A recent survey by CafeWoman Midlife Health and Wellbeing (follow them @CafeWoman1) on Twitter found that over 50% of respondents felt ‘invisible’ as a result of their menopause and age, with just 12% saying they didn’t. So are women still stigmatised when they reach ‘a certain age’? A quick scan through the media and you might agree. After all, how many movies are released every year showing menopausal or postmenopausal women in a positive light- even, dare I say it, maintaining their sexuality? Not many (one notable exception being the recent Book Club– brilliant, and worth a watch!).
But times are changing. Menopause is really having its moment, and women ‘of a certain age’ are louder and prouder than ever. Just go for a quick browse around Instagram. It’s full of brilliant 50-something women, sharing their midlife experiences frankly, bringing the issues they face to the forefront, and, seemingly, thriving. Ageing, it seems, isn’t the taboo it once was.
We sat down with Rejuvage founder Louise Proddow to find out more.
‘I’m absolutely buzzing still!’
Louise has just arrived home from a wellness retreat in Turkey, and she’s glowing. Which is fitting; as the founder of midlife wellness website Rejuvage she’s a walking advert for the Rejuvage mantra ‘Age Amazing’.
“Midlifers are leading the way,” she explains; as the website says, ‘Post 50 isn’t a time to slow down, but a new beginning to embrace.’
And it was as she approached 50 that Louise began to experience a shift in her attitude and aspirations. Louise’s professional life took off during the .com boom in the 90’s, carving a successful career for herself in digital marketing with companies such as Nokia and Sun Microsystems. But self-confessed stressed workaholic Louise eventually found it wasn’t enough.
“Until then it had been sort of ‘wealth means happiness’ which when I hit 45 completely shifted to be more about health than wealth.” Louise describes how her teenage children would do an impression of her typing frantically at a computer because she was always working. Something clearly had to change.
“It really was amazing. As I started to focus more on my health and became physically and emotionally healthier, I really did become much happier.”
Making a difference
Louise’s best friend Kerry was a beautician, and they’d spend hours chatting about beauty and wellness while mucking out horses, which they both love. Kerry sadly lost a 10 year battle with cancer, but her positivity and courage always inspired Rejuvage.
“It’s just like the chats we used to have. Rejuvage should be just like having a catch up with your girlfriends; nothing is off limits.”
Louise wanted Rejuvage to celebrate midlife, while being a resource for a more holistic approach to wellbeing and happiness. It combines real women’s ‘Age Amazing’ stories with articles, hints and tips on everything from nutrition and exercise, beauty treatments and surgeries, to navigating sex and relationships in menopause and beyond.
Barriers to sex in midlife
I was curious to find out what Louise thinks about sex in midlife. Does she think there’s a wider issue with the way midlife women are perceived and treated? In short, yes, but Louise thinks there’s more to it than that.
“It’s all about attitude,” she says. “Even if there are physical issues like vaginal dryness, having a sexy mindset and silky smooth help in your bedroom can transform your sex life”
Louise thinks that public attitudes towards midlife women and sex, though they can be quite negative and dated, are in fact getting better.
“Attitudes are definitely changing. So many more menopausal women are using social media and dating apps like Tinder now, and I really think it’s changing perceptions of sexuality in older women.”
Shifting the focus onto younger women is next on Louise’s agenda.
“It’s so important we educate the next generation so they know what to expect. It’s the only way we can make sure they’re approaching midlife with an open mind and positive attitude, so they can get the best out of life.”
Louise’s Top Tips for the best sex in midlife
- Embrace the benefits of sex; it’s good for the mind and body, releases endorphins, reduces stress, and helps improve the condition of the vagina.
- Be open to sexual thoughts and fantasies so you can break down the barriers holding you back from being intimate
- Don’t be overly focused on penetration; enjoy foreplay and intimacy too.
- #ageisjustanumber. Your midlife body and experience IS sexy so keep hold of that body positive mindset.
- Create the right atmosphere to get in the mood. It might take a bit of effort, but it’s worth it.
- Use a good lubricant to save you from any discomfort caused by vaginal dryness. There are lots of other fun ways to use it too, through intimate touching, or with sex toys.
- Share your fantasies with your partner, experiment with sex toys, and don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and techniques.
Read more on sex in midlife by visiting the Rejuvage website
“I love the freedom of midlife, from the bedroom to the beach. I’m having the best experiences, and want to keep on exploring until I’m in my 90’s.”