Nobody warns you.
It just happens.
At least that's my story.
I was in my late 40s, passionately in love, and suddenly the wondrous release that always made me so giddy just wasn't there anymore.
Knowing my way around orgasms, the multiple variety, I've also spent 10 years in the trenches of the sex and dating worlds. I was a relationship consultant for a big newsweekly that at the time monopolized technology dating, and I was editor-in-chief of a women-owned and operated soft-core girlie site that was one of the first to make money on the web. So, I am no novice in the arts of erotic exploration.
The first thing I reached for when my orgasm went missing was a vibrator.
It was a revelation when I discovered an orgasm could knock my migraine headaches down to size and sometimes even obliterate them entirely. I was in my twenties and one night with a blinding headache my boyfriend and I had sex. It was almost gone after we finished. After that, no man in my life has ever heard me say no to sex because of a headache.
Feeling tense, irritable, pissed at the world after a horrendous day at work? A little time with your favorite B.O.B. works wonders.
If you don't know what those initials stand for, let me guide you to Sylvia Day's Bared to You, which I heartily recommend:
I was not discussing Battery-Operated Boyfriends with Gideon Cross. I'd never discussed masturbation openly with a man, let alone a man who was for all intents and purposes a stranger to me. "B.O.B. and I have a longtime understanding --when we're done with each other, we know exactly which one of us has been used, and it isn't me. Good night, Gideon."
Masturbation can lead any woman towards answers and rewards, as it did for me when I suddenly hit a pleasure wall. When I first started masturbating there was a quick and dirty theme to my self-pleasuring, emphasis on quick. That stingy mentality was long ago replaced, sometimes by simply breathing into what I'm feeling without any fantasy playing in my mind, my body leading all the way. Masturbating with your partner is such a turn on.
Women are reluctant to be honest and talk about many of the things we face at midlife. A moment when your body can suddenly betray you, while your inner girl thrashes around for acknowledgment. It has become clear to me the older I get that deep inside me that thing that keeps me going no matter what comes is my very girl-ness. The energy at my core that doesn't change, no matter the life assaults and injurious physical indignities that begin once your'e out of your twenties, which isn't my womanness, but the unflagging force of my inner, raging GIRL.
Men at the same age are often grasping to verify their virility, which has been labeled "midlife crisis" when they hunt a younger woman to prove their manliness. It's hardly a coincidence that marriages hit the skids during this timeframe, with the woman's side of the equation rarely excavated.
The journey to find my missing orgasms was exhaustive and I didn't stop until I found them. For me it was a combination of things, the most important taking me on a thunder road adventure into bioidentical hormones that changed my life even beyond my sexual enjoyment. That's a fuller story that took my own investigation, and gynecologists willing to brave the territory with me.
Sex toys make a lot of difference, with masturbation a girl's best friend, no matter your age.
Sharing orgasms with the man who was there when my orgasm went missing remained important and he was always game for whatever I wanted to try to solve the mystery. Whatever we choose and however we explore our sexual curiosities, we're involved in each other's climactic euphoria.
Faking it was never an option. Dishonesty in sex, as far as I'm concerned, will evolve into an impenetrable wall between two people. Getting naked in every way, especially as the relationship matures, requires being fully present, with lies working against the vulnerability required for spectacular sex.
Midlife brings with it an intense libidinous desire that is rarely explored, because many of the people writing about sex are too timid to confront the prejudice and outdated notion that sex beyond your forties should be secret, or is somehow uninteresting.
We're living longer lives and a big part of the adventure is intimacy, passion and sex, which can be outrageously aggressive, or sweetly vanilla, but above all else is even more satisfying than when we're younger and not nearly as confident as when you've actually lived and learned what exactly it is that you want.
Losing my orgasm and confronting the loss made me hyper aware of just how dependent on sensual stimulation and divine release life is and just why the communion of physical passion is such a rush and the craving for it never ends.
Taylor Marsh is an author and speaker living outside Washington, D.C. Her latest book, The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen -- Relationship Secrets from the Trenches is on sale for the month of February for $1.99, with a book podcast introduction available on iTunes.