Women's sex drives drop much earlier than we all thought

May 21, 2015 at 12:55 p.m. ET
Image: Robert Daily/OJO Images/Getty Images

When you think of sex in your 40s, the stereotype is a lackluster streak of boredom and long-term marriage. We think of women who feel less attractive and libidos that lag. We hope this will not come to pass. Sadly, a new study seems to indicate that the cliché is actually more accurate than we thought.

A study from Healthspan indicates that women begin experiencing the beginning of menopause around 40 and their sex drive — and self-confidence — drops considerably.

Say it isn't so.

As I approach 40 (hey, I still have three years!) studies like these make me feel scared. Terrified, in fact. Will my sex drive and my intimacy with my husband fall by the wayside? I certainly hope not.

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Jennifer Cullen, 49, says it's not that way at all for her:

"I met my second husband when I was 39. And I think the combination of finding love again, feeling totally comfortable with my sexuality because I was older and just plain having a chemistry with my husband has led to my 40s being my best decade sexually and otherwise. Also, my kids became more independent when I was in my 40s so I had more time to devote to me. Which meant more time to exercise. Which led to being happier with how I looked and felt."

Another friend, who asked to not be named, is 43 and says she has never been more sexually satisfied in her life. So what gives?

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To me, it seems all about how you spin it. Sure, things are sagging and our bodies have been through more than they had in our 20s. But also, look where we are. We have come so far and had so much sex. We ought to know a thing or two by now, right? The fact is, if we lost the concerns over how our bodies look compared to before, we might appreciate the act of sex in a whole other way.

There is something beautifully satisfying to me thinking about being with my husband in my 40s. By then we will have been married close to 20 years and watched our children grow from babies into real humans with thoughts and feelings of their own. They will be moving toward independence and we will be able to go to a movie on Saturday night again without having to call a sitter.

So, OK. I am scared. Studies like this make me feel even worse. But I choose to believe the women I know who say that the best is still yet to come. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.