Q: I’m a healthy 64-year-old woman who enjoys a satisfying sex life. Menopause was tough, but I’m OK now. My libido’s active, my body gets physically aroused, and, usually, I can have strong orgasms, especially with the Womanizer toy you once recommended. For a few weeks lately I’ve had the winter blues, staying indoors, and worrying about current affairs. When I’ve tried to cheer myself up with an orgasm it’s been difficult. After a while, my clitoris gets sore. I feel a heaviness and a slight ache in my pelvic area but nothing more. Am I breaking down?
A: I think people everywhere have been suffering from the winter blues, even in the parts of the world where it is summer. There seems to be something to fear everywhere you look, and not many positive stories feature in the news media. A certain level of anxiety is completely natural, but it can be exacerbated by the time of year.
In the southern parts of Australia that have the four seasons, winter means shorter days, and limited sunshine. When I was in Sweden this year the locals found my description of a Melbourne winter risible. Nevertheless, some people can still be afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), where inadequate light stimulation results in lowered mood and energy. Light therapy can alleviate these symptoms if they are severe, but they usually pass as the days get longer.
Cut yourself some slack, and relax. Most of us are less active in winter. Hunkering down in our warm home is more attractive than venturing out in the cold. We often socialise less, move our bodies less, indulge in comfort food, and turn inwards. This can leave us more susceptible to the depressing and disheartening affects of bad news from the outside world.
The best way to drive out the blues is to do some kind of vigorous exercise. The endorphins released are the best mood enhancers available. Without exercise, you become sluggish and your senses are dulled. Low energy means getting motivated is hard, but force yourself to take a brisk walk, go to the gym, take a yoga class, or play a sport. Your body will become more sensitive and responsive to sexual pleasure.
Practice mindfulness. Deal with the moment you are in, being fully present. While it is important to be informed about what is happening elsewhere, let go of the negatives you cannot affect. As Byron Katie says in Loving What Is, that is God’s (the Universe’s) business. You do not have to abdicate from your responsibilities, but you must protect your spirit in order to be available to act, when there is something you can do to make the world better.
It is true that an orgasm is an effective remedy for the blues, but it is not like taking a painkiller.
Older women take longer to become physically aroused, so it is important to take your time, and avoid impatience. Like the watched kettle that never boils, an orgasm that is being worried about and willed to occur will never happen. Again, try to be in the moment, not fixated on a destination.
Sexual arousal is mental, as well as physical. It does not help to go in cold. Have a warm shower, play sensual music, read some erotica, indulge in fantasy – these kinds of preparation are a form of foreplay that get things going before you have any direct sexual stimulation.
Vary the style of stimulation. You have a very effective toy, but simply applying one kind of stimulation over a long period is bound to desensitise you, and prolonged, direct clitoral touch will result in numbness, then soreness.
Go slowly. It is better to have short sessions of stimulation, spaced out through the day, to allow sexual energy to build and the blood vessels in your genital area to become engorged. That heaviness you describe is engorgement. It means that an orgasm is in the wings, but the overstimulation and mental concentration is blocking that release. Like sneezing, having an orgasm cannot be forced. Take a break, take your time, trust your body, and be kind to yourself.
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