By Natalie Reilly – The Sydney Morning Herald
Twenty-one years ago, sex expert and journalist Tracey Cox wrote Hot Sex and How to Do It, a sex and relationship manual that became an immediate best-seller. Now 58, and happily married to her second husband, Cox knows better than most how to keep the passion alive.
Her latest book, Great Sex Starts At 50 is another manual, based on years of research and interviews. Speaking quickly and warmly over the phone from London, Cox gives five pieces of advice on how to age-proof your libido.
Tracey Cox has strategies to keep your sex drive strong well into middle age.
1.Dare to find your thing – and be adventurous
There are three myths says Cox, that exist about women in the bedroom: the first is that men have a higher sex drive, the second is that women are by nature monogamous and the third is that men get bored in the bedroom more often than women do – all of them are false.
“The fact is, we need a higher level of stimulation in order to become aroused as we get older, so if you give us really exciting, erotic, adventurous sex – we’ll be there. If you give us the same old thing, based purely around intercourse and the guy getting off, of course we’re not going to be interested.” The first step, says Cox, is to start initiating sex with your partner – “It puts you in the driver’s seat and makes you feel immediately more sexy.”
- Don’t try to have ‘young’ sex
Who wants the sex they had when they were young? “I don’t want the sex I had at 20 – all that bloody hard thrusting! You want slower, not penetration-focused sex, which is actually better sex, if you relax into it,” says Cox.
Another thing to let go of: the idea that the only good sex is spontaneous sex. “I mean who really in a long-term relationship has that much spontaneous sex? It’s rubbish, no one does! So stop mourning all that sex you had where you ripped each other’s clothes off and replace it with something else – anticipation.” It can be just as sexy as spontaneity, says Cox and result in longer sex sessions.
3.Use it or lose it
“This is crucial and pretty much applies to every single thing you do once you get past 50,” says Cox. “Chronic cystitis, prolapse, vaginal thinning and dryness – regular sex can minimise all of them. The more sex you have, the more able you are to have good, comfortable sex.”
Cox defines “regular” as once a week – if you want to reap all those health benefits, including strong and healthy erections. According to Cox, regular sex also boosts our immune system and regulates stress. “And of course the more sex you have, the more sex you want.”
- It’s all in Your Head
“I interviewed hundreds of women for this book, and they really did divide into two camps: women who really hated getting old, who disliked their bodies after they had children; hated their stretch marks, thought they were too fat, hated the symptoms of menopause, and even if they were in relationships, they weren’t having any sex.
“Then there was another group of women, who looked at their bodies and thought, ‘Well, f-ck it – I think I’m sexy and that’s all that matters’ and accepted themselves, went and got help for their
menopause symptoms, cared less about how they looked, (which you do as you get older) and they were having loads of sex – and better sex than they had ever had in their lives, ”says Cox.
“Your body does not have to be a young body or a skinny body or a celebrity body in order to be sexy. Sex is an attitude, not a dress size”. But if you are worried – there’s a solution – have more sex. Having more sex improves your body image. Enjoyable sexual experiences make us feel better about our bodies, and more attractive to our partners.
“Not to lose weight, or to tone up,” says Cox. “But because exercise improves our mood, makes us feel more confident and increases blood flow. Blood flow is really important for when you get past 50 because blood flow is one of the things that starts to slow down and it makes everything a little bit less sensitive.”
And also … Get Help if you need it
If you are suffering vaginal dryness, or pain during sex, depression or any other uncomfortable symptom of menopause, don’t suffer in silence. Cox says there are plenty of helpful remedies out there, just as long as you don’t give up.
Great Sex Starts at 50: How to age-proof your libido by Tracey Cox (Murdoch Books, RRP $32.99 is available now)
Natalie Reilly is freelance writer for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and WAtoday.