The night I first took the Estrodial for a spin I had been turning myself on all night. Dancing to brass bands in my red dress, I was smoking hot, and all the other middle aged women knew it. Later that night, me and my Magic Wand, it was….magical.
My orgasms have been shitty since 2019. Three doctors, two OBGYNS, and even my witchy naturopath all shrugged their shoulders, “female sexuality just isn’t researched.” Versions of It’s Psychological/Just Accept It is all they had to say.
Thankfully my friend sent me a You Can Do Hard Things episode on Menopause with Jen Gunther where a women wrote in about her decreased vulvar sensation and was recommended Estrodial cream. Another friend gave me a tube she hadn’t used, because it was $400 on my Bronze Covered California plan.
Why the fuck are these common perimenopause symptoms not widely known and talked about? [And why is a tube of cream $400–a topic for another blog]. I’ve learned more from Quim Night Moves product reviews than I have from any of my elders or doctors. A few years back in Wild Women Rising I added a month on Sexuality, Pleasure, and Embodiment so we can talk about these things. Every time I’m so grateful to be in a circle of women, from their twenties to eighties, just talking about our relationship to our bodies and sex. Why is this so rare and radical?
At $400 for a five week supply of decent sexual sensation, should I just surrender? Accept that my body’s system designed for mating is shutting down, like a shriveled flower, pollination complete, its beauty and drive no longer needed. Job done. This sounds flippant, but it’s painful. I loved being a flower.
Much of me thinks yes, surrender. The way I work on surrender every day while waiting for clients in Zoom, discovering soft saggy jowls and double chin turkey neck, staring into what little I can see of my eyes, encased in wrinkles under drooping eyelids. The way I’ve already surrendered most of my Pretty Girl Privileges Passport, each surrender building resilience for the guaranteed harder surrenders to come.
There’s a way my sexuality has been sublimated to other realms. I kid you not, I get aroused watching the sunset, watching the crows alight nightly for their convention in the redwood tree, letting the wind have its way with me in my outdoor bath, face and legs to the rain. Caressing fluffy cat belly on the sheepskin by the fire. Holding hands or snuggling with someone I love. There are so many things as good as a penis in a vagina.
“You don’t look old” is meant as a compliment, but isn’t that saying that looking old is a terrible thing? Aren’t we all eventually going to look old? Have the crepe-y mottled skin that’s always scaly and flaking, full of bruises and cuts struggling to heal, have that invisible Old Person Face that looks generic to anyone not old. Won’t we lose our beloveds, one by one, like trees in our forest falling, to dementia, stroke, and cancer?
I do look and feel old and in some silly yet horrific-to-my-younger-self ways I’m letting myself go. These days you can find me in socks and sandals (ew!), sports bra on the outside of my shirt–because that’s more efficient than taking my shirt off and on and off and on again before my next zoom session–spazzy ponytail, bouncing belly, dancing in the street. Because I want sunshine and exercise and don’t want to waste time.
Because what I do with my time is magic. The people who come through my home, feel love and belonging at my table, the strangers at grief rituals letting other strangers rub their backs while they shake and wail, because of the container of love and safety I create. The bonds of Wild Women, ten months into the program, inner critics mostly shed, people pleasing pushed aside, stepping into their power and the ripple effects of that. Watching the graduates rise from the confines of too-small jobs and relationships into bigger love, leadership and whole-hearted-living. I couldn’t do this in my twenties.
Can we stop pretending aging isn’t a widening river of loss, and sit with the grief and the boon of it? The best embodiment is this: standing in the kitchen with friends of thirty years, head thrown back, blaring booming witchy cackles. Big waves from my toes and deep in my belly: the sexual trauma, separations, the big unbearable and daily griefs, mistakes made, people hurt, and the hard won humility and forgiveness. This recipe of life lived creates laughter so strong it hurts my abs and hurls back my head. It’s an old lady kind of orgasm and it’s just as good, maybe better.