Why? Because I am going to talk about sex. Specifically, I am going to talk about sex drive–or the lack of one. JT, if you don’t want to read your mother’s discussion on sex, exit now!
I have never heard a discussion regarding female sex drives. Now days I can go online and get scores of information, none of it very helpful at this stage in my life. I wonder if women actually discuss it, especially those woman who have little or no sex drive, especially young women. A low libido is probably not something they would want to share with their peers.
I was one of those women. Yes, I did have an unpleasant sexual experience with a prick of a boyfriend in my youth, so my confidence was lacking, but I really didn’t have what one would call much a sex drive before or after that. I never looked across the bar or the classroom or the workplace at some guy and felt the insatiable urge to tear his clothes off and have wild and crazy sex. Dinner or perhaps a movie, but never sex. I never looked at movie stars and imagined myself in the back seat of their cars or in their beds. If I did go on a date, or spend an evening with a guy, or experience the rare occurrence of a date turning into a couple of dates, I never felt any urges.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t encourage myself to have sex. For a short time I thought I just needed to get better at it and wanted to prove that my ex boyfriend was wrong and that someone would find me desirable. So I did test the waters in my twenties but not with any males I wanted to leave a good impression on. The problem was that even though I appeared attractive and desirable from a distance, I was cold and unresponsive in person.
So was it my allusive hormone imbalance? Allusive because the gynecologist who so casually mentioned it after my first surgery in my twenties, never really spelled it out. Had he done a test to discover this or was he just assuming it given my crazy abnormal periods and the surgery he had just performed? That was the same day he told be that I wouldn’t be able to have kids. Yet JT happened and a couple of other pregnancies before that (stories for another day).
If I had had run-of-the-mill female hormones, would I have had more desire? Would all the things that I had hoped would come naturally during the process of sex have come naturally? Or was I (pardon the term) just frigid? How abnormal was my level of abnormal? I would have loved to ask my peers and roommates from my youth, who were much more sexually active than I was, whether they had an insatiable urge or whether things just progressed to that point or whether they just did it because it was expected. And more importantly, how did they get so comfortable doing it with someone they had just met hours earlier? That would take a level of relaxation that I had never experienced.
It was The Doc who eventually enabled me to have a better sexual experience. He patiently focused on making me feel good. It took months to get to the point where I had a natural orgasm with him inside me and even then there were specifics involved. It only worked when I was on top and could arch my back and push my pelvis towards him, but it worked. Did this have something to do with my hormone imbalance, my previous surgery, my tilted uterus? Who knew? I certainly didn’t. I was just happy that we found something that worked. And even though it worked, it did not increase my sex drive. If given the choice between sex and sleep, I would often choose sleep.
The Doc and I got used to each other, or should I say he got used to me because I am not a necker (Oh look, I invented a word). Necking makes me feel claustrophobic, like I am suffocating, which causes me to yawn and look bored when I am actually attempting to fill my lungs with oxygen. Foreplay to me is a good conversation sometimes served with a glass of wine around dinnertime, which was a pretty limited window, especially after we had JT.
By the time I was in my early forties, sex between The Doc and I had become comfortable and easy. Not a daily occurrence but enjoyable; and although there were many times when I would still choose sleep, we made love often enough to satisfy the both of us. Woooo! I had reached what I believed was that allusive sexual peak that women are supposed to hit when they are in their forties. You know the one. The one men are said to hit in their early twenties.
I had developed a little more desire, nothing off the charts, and a few fantasies to help fuel this desire. Somehow I had moved a little closer to normal on the libido spectrum. I didn’t bother to question it. I was still suffering from all the other undesirable effects of my so-called imbalanced hormones, the PMS, depression and migraines; but I felt that reaching this point in my sexual growth had been a very long journey, and that I had earned the rewards.
Then we discovered that I, once again, had a large abdominal cyst and required major surgery. On the day they removed the ovary that had grown into an eight-inch-diameter cyst, they also removed an additional smaller cyst and everything else including my other ovary, my fallopian tubes and my uterus. All things that I was happy to say goodbye to because of all the symptoms created by my monthly cycle.
What I was totally unaware of at the time was that I was also saying goodbye to my hard-earned sexual pleasure. I had heard, not from any official sources, that women had diminished sexual desire after they had a hysterectomy. It was a grapevine piece of information, something I thought of as an old wives’ tale. The young gynecologist in the sunny office with the pink door certainly didn’t mention anything about it. The thing is, that even if he had spelled it out, I still would have had the complete procedure. The opportunity to rid myself of all the hormonal garbage that had been dragging me down for years was too powerful to ignore.
For the first while, while my body was benefiting from man-made estrogen but was also slowly using up the last of it’s own hormone reserves, things were ok. Diminished but ok. As time passed, diminished became depleted, exhausted, decimated. In hindsight, diminished looked good. Why my prescription for what was a supposedly normal level of estrogen for a woman of my age didn’t allow me to at least enjoy a little of my previous pleasure I don’t know.
At fifty-one, I chose to go off estrogen because it was linked with breast cancer and I happen to like my boobs. Unfortunately, all the good things that estrogen had provided quickly disappeared, and I dove head first into menopause becoming a cranky, bitchy, tired women who hot flashed every fifteen minutes for the next nine years. One who, even now, still runs hot and flashes every time she needs to pee.
Making love became work. My body was unresponsive, without a hint of desire or final reward. The Doc kept trying, trying so hard that I felt guilty and guilt is not an aphrodisiac. Yet for years we kept trying until I just couldn’t try anymore.
I don’t remember the last time I had an orgasm. If I had only known my last time was going to be the last time, I think I would have tried to savor it a little longer, possibly invested some time to remember the date and circumstances of the moment. Perhaps proposed a toast: Goodbye Woooo, You will be missed.
Thank you for reading.
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Photo: Sydney Sims, Unsplash