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After many years of being unhappily married Sheila * a sales executive from London, thought that her sex life was over – until a surprising encounter on holiday changed her mind and HRT helped her body reawaken…
As told to Andreina Cordani
“When I broke up with my partner I was well and truly done with sex and romance. Life with him had been extremely difficult – I eventually came to realise it was a coercive control situation. At the same time, I was going through the menopause, which made it even tougher.
I didn’t take HRT – just Vagifem vaginal inserts to deal with stress incontinence. At the time I didn’t realise that my brain fog and patchy memory were also symptoms and that further chipped away at my confidence.
By the time the relationship was over, my menopause was too and at 54 I never thought I’d want to have sex with a man again.
It took a while to rebuild my life. I had therapy and focused on the good things: my two grown-up children, my career and my love of cycling, walking, and tennis. I told myself there was more to life than men.
So by the time I flew out to Spain for a yoga holiday with friends, I was back on track – 61 and enjoying my independence. The trip was lovely – morning stretches on the shore, swims in the sea, and evenings drinking and dancing at our favourite beach bar.
On our second-to-last night, I noticed this guy looking at me. He was about 10 years younger, looked fit and really attractive – I felt a pull to him that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. We chatted, shared a drink and the following night we met again – this time we talked until after the bar closed, then we lay on the beach together and started kissing.
Part of my brain was full of questions. Does he realise how old I am? Is everything going to work after so long? But those thoughts were soon washed away in a wave of sensations. After 10 years without intimate contact, I was in sensual overload. It turns out that when the attraction and the excitement are there everything works just fine!
We just about made it back to the hotel, and there I had my first sex in more than a decade – and it felt incredible.
It was so liberating – for the first time sex wasn’t weighed down by concerns about pregnancy, or whether I wanted a relationship. There was a tiny worry about STIs otherwise it was pure enjoyment. And afterward, we said something like “that was lovely thank you, bye!” And off we went back to our lives.
I flew home feeling absolutely amazing, and shortly after that I started on HRT, which cleared up my brain fog. As it kicked in, I also felt like my body was waking up – I found myself thinking of sex and masturbation more often. I was ready to start dating again.
At first, I resisted joining an app – I hoped to meet someone through my hobbies – but it turns out all the single people at my various clubs were finding partners through apps! My children helped me choose a profile picture, and I plunged in.
Initially, I flicked through the profiles cringing. A photo of a man holding a big pint was an instant no-no. Men ‘looking for a soul mate’ had me running for the hills. And the ones who said ‘I want to meet the love of my life and walk hand in hand-into-the sunset’ gave me the ick!
That’s how I realised what I didn’t want: I wasn’t looking for a husband, I didn’t want to move in with a man and live in his pocket. I just wanted someone to socialise with and have fun with. When I used the term ‘friends with benefits’ my daughter cringed in horror, but that’s what I wanted.
Just as I was thinking about giving up, Phil* popped up.
He was good-looking, funny – and also my age. The holiday fling had been great, but I wanted someone at the same life-stage as me. His profile said he was keen to meet ‘interesting women’ which was much more attractive to me than ‘soul mates!’
When we finally met, after a few telephone dates – the attraction was instant, and on our second date – dinner in London – he reached out and stroked my leg. On the way home we kissed and I could feel the heat building between us.
But I did feel a little nervous too. Had the experience in Spain been a one-off?
For our fourth date I invited him to my house and cooked a paella… He kissed me on the doorstep and, well, that paella never got eaten!
Seven hours later we came up for air.
Yup, seven blissful hours. I was just so into him and his gorgeous body. So busy thinking about him and how attracted I was to him I forgot to worry about my age, my wobbly bits, my lack of practice. I felt brilliant, strong, and like I could take anything on.
Two months on, it’s still amazing, still fresh. Sex after menopause is so different. There are certainly new things to consider – for example using the Vagifem helps keep everything working down there. But not worrying about contraception is a joy. It’s also been great for my well-being. My new-found confidence has seeped into other parts of my life – I feel energetic, empowered and strong again. I feel like a woman!”
*names have been changed
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