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Living In Sin: As the Vagina Turns

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Every week in Living in Sin, Jen Sincero provides advice to LA's sexually confounded. You can see her column in print in the LA Alternative Press, or have it sent to you every week by signing up for her newsletter. Ask Jen your questions: all are posted anonymously.

Dear Jen,
I am a 34 year old straight male and I've been dating a woman for just over a year who is 16 years older than I am. She's Chinese and looks very good for her age, but the problem is, she doesn't seem to enjoy having sex for long periods of time. She gets excited, and says she has orgasms, but if it goes on for longer than, let's say, fifteen minutes, she's almost begging me to stop. She says she can't take it, that it's too much for her. She says she is not the most sexual person, and that a kiss from her lover is enough to satisfy her. I've found myself almost falling in love with her, and really would like to have a long term relationship, but I'm not sure if our love making would be an issue. Can you please offer some ideas?
-Looking for Ancient Chinese Secret

Dear Secret,
I heard a while ago that Dr. Ruth and some other sex lady have been traveling the country consoling older women who are being traumatized by the Viagra craze. Think about it. "Used to be Howard and I would knock back some Metamucil and hunker down for a few rounds of Scrabble before putting our teeth in a cup and crawling off to bed. Now I'm waking up with that thing in my face all hours of the night. Gotta sleep with one eye open around here these days." These poor women don't know what's hit them, and even though Viagra has been a household word for years, there is still very little awareness about the effects of age on women's sexual pleasure. Wait, they forgot about women's pleasure? Wait, really? No, wait. What?

Ok, so aside from the fact that women over fifty might want to continue having rocking sex lives too, isn't it kind of dumb to get the guys all dressed up and then leave them with nowhere juicy to stick it? My hope is that maybe, now that aging women's sexual issues are affecting men, it'll bring more attention to them.

But since we have yet to evolve that far, I will do my best to splain it to you now. There are a couple of things at work here. When we get older, we lose the elasticity in our skin, and that includes the skin in our linga linga lang langs. Plummeting estrogen levels cause it to get thinner too, and it can tear or start to itch, burn and basically feel like you've got a hot poker up there instead of a penis. Lack of estrogen also messes up our ability to self lubricate, and things become rather sandbox-like. Progesterone, another female hormone, effects our libido and takes a nose dive as well, as does our testosterone level (yes, it's made for a woman, too) when our ovaries begin to retire.

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Then there's the whole psychological carnival of what it means to be an older lady in our society. Desirable is not a word that comes to mind when describing it. Sexually obsolete is more like it - I'd be scared to see the statistics on how many women have been traded in for newer models vs. how many men have. This is a sneaky one, because even if you're loud and proud and roaring your way into old age, the subliminal repercussions of the messages being sent to you via the media, people's attitudes and your husband's hot young mistress can tweak your body out. Add to that that you've got fire ants in your crotch, are having hot flashes and your mood swings could knock down a building, and it's no wonder your lady friend is saying she's not a sexual person.

Alrighty then, what to do? On your end, I'm afraid you can't do much more than what you're probably already doing. Keep making her feel sexy, get her hot and bothered and drown her in lube when you do have sex. Check out books like Dr. Ruth's, Sex After 50 and Smart Medicine for Menopause by Dr. Sandra Cabot and get yourselves a really good sex therapist.

The rest is up to her because it's her body. Hormone therapy is sort of an option, but tends to cause cancer. There are topical creams and stuff like Vagifem that help with the pain and dryness. They also contain estrogen, but since they're used topically, they pose less risk. Testosterone replacement is also an option, but that deepens your voice and you grow a beard (this is what they're calling "female Viagra," btw).

Hopefully she has a good gynecologist who can give her some other options. Menopause has been around as long as women have, so surely they've come up with something, right? Please, god, Dr. Ruth, anyone - Tommy, can you hear me?

I think I'm about to become a menopause expert. I mean it. As someone who plans on turning fifty someday, I need some more answers...

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