Midlife Pleasure: Ania Grimone
The most common unfiltered reaction to introducing myself as a sex and intimacy coach to women in midlife is some variation on “that ship has sailed.”
“I lost my desire. It’s a hormone “thing””
I Lost My Desire:
I lost my desire. It’s a hormone “thing”. It doesn’t surprise me, because of how common it is, but the finality with which it is spoken and the resignation that comes with it, makes me want to intervene.
In a previous article, I spoke about the importance of cultivating sexual energy, whether or not you have a partner, or even want to have sex. It is the energy that fuels physical function, energy levels, mental acuity, creativity, and even embodied spirituality. But no matter how much I extol the amazing benefits of cultivating sexual energy, lack of desire seems to be a deal breaker. So let’s talk about desire.
The standard narrative of sexual desire is that it should just show up. You are watching TV, washing dishes, walking down the street, maybe you see a sexy person or your partner winks at you and boom. You think to yourself: I would like me some sex.
It is not entirely fictional. According to research, it feels like this for about 75% of men and about 15% of women. This is called a spontaneous desire.
Then there are about 5% of men and 30% of women who find that they only start being interested in sex after some sexy things are already happening. That is a responsive desire. It is perfectly normal and healthy. It is not a pathology or a problem to fix. Their bodies simply need something more than a wink or a sexy visual to get interested in sex.
The rest, which is about 20% of men and 55% of women, have a context-dependent desire. They are normal too.
“The Sexual Excitation System is your sexual gas pedal.”
This is how context-dependent desire works. Your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is made of a series of breaks and accelerators. Sympathetic “fight and flight” AKA “accelerators” vs parasympathetic “rest and digest” AKA “breaks.” This dual control system also applies to sex.
The Sexual Excitation System is your sexual gas pedal. It monitors with your senses for things that are sexually relevant. Even your thoughts and feelings, and says “turn on” when it finds something relevant.
The sexual inhibition system is your sexual break. It is not shyness. It is a neurological off. One part of it scans the environment for threats. Those threats can be a real unsafe situation, risk of STD, social consequences etc. It prevents you from turning on during a meeting, or family dinner. The other part represents the garden variety of worries about performance, like reaching an orgasm, how your body looks, if you are doing it right, etc..
All sexual functioning (or dysfunctioning) depends on a balance (or imbalance) between breaks and accelerators. Most people who struggle with desire or orgasm assume it is a fault of too little acceleration, while it is most likely too much break. In any case, once you figure out which part is out of balance, you can deal with it.
So arousal is a function of two things: first, how much stimulation your accelerator is getting and how little stimulation goes to your breaks. The second – how sensitive are your breaks?
Low desire has much less to do with your chemistry than it does with your life. According to research by Lorri Brotto and her colleagues, it is stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, self-judgment, lack of self-compassion, relationship troubles, and other emotional factors which have far more influence on woman’s desire than any hormone. Myth busted.
Experience Low Desire:
So if you have a responsive desire, or experience low desire, in absence of a medical issue, you do not need to look for ways to change yourself. You just need to change the context in which you have more things that turn you on, and where you can minimize things that turn you off.
An exercise for you. Notice and, perhaps, journal all the things that turn you on and off. No matter how silly they may seem, they matter.
“Low desire has much less to do with your chemistry than it does with your life.”
One great way to do this is to schedule a “date” with yourself or your partner when you are in charge of the whole thing. Tune into your body and follow every whim, instinct, and desire. Do you feel like having a candle? Done. Turn up/down the thermostat? Done. Music? Done. Sandwich? Done. Deep conversation? Done. Certain kind of touch? Done. Skin smelling like soap? Done? Smell of sweat? Done.
Honor Those Instincts:
Pay attention moment by moment to what turns you on and off. Honor those instincts. If the body says yes to something, go for it. If it shrinks from something, stop. Redirect towards what feels good. Understand your pleasure map and what your system responds to. This is a much more effective way to stoke the fire of your desire than any hormonal, or medical intervention. Sex is like curiosity. There are no universal rules on what works. Only you know. So go ahead and find out.
About the Author:
Ania, MS, L.Ac., CPCC, is a clinician of Chinese medicine, as well as Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Health, and Sex Coach. She blends the most cutting-edge behavioral science with principles of Chinese medicine, Daoism, Tantra, and somatic experiencing, to heal and harness the power of female sexuality.
She is a founder of Venus Core Leadership, teaching women a new way of being. Sensual, embodied, regulated, and filled with pleasure.
She is passionate about reconnecting women to their deep wisdom, and innate, natural sexual core, as a source of aliveness, creativity, and joy. Regardless of age. Visit www.venuscoreleadership.com
If you would like to reconnect to your body, and your sexuality, have, restore, or strengthen orgasms, and improve your intimacy, schedule a chat at https://calendly.com/venuscoreleadership/coaching-session. You can also sign up for Return To Self, my 4 week virtual embodiment course for women to undo burnout, eliminate stress, fall in love with your body, and increase pleasure. https://www.venuscoreleadership.com/embodiment-class