A Woman’s Personal Path to Pleasure

with Dr. Susana Mayer

Your sex drive has shut down. You’re getting older, you’ve hit menopause, and you don’t feel beautiful anymore. You do not have to be ghosted by your libido, says Sex Therapist Susana Mayer, PhD, during a Smart Sex, Smart Love podcast. Sexuality is ageless. Your body may be changing, but that does not mean your sex life is ending.You are in charge of your pleasure. If you feel your partner is not understanding the physical changes you are going through and how they are affecting your libido, have you talked about it openly and honestly? Women have a voice and need to use it; they need to talk about how menopause is affecting their sexuality so they can take some steps to regain the sexually active life they once enjoyed.You may feel unattractive and old, but your partner doesn’t see you that way. Allow your partner to reassure you that your sex life is still good. You are not 20 years old anymore, so stop expecting your life – and your sex life – to be like it was when you were 20.There are three factors to consider when talking about your changing sex life:

  1. conscious coupling: everyone’s sexual needs should be taken into consideration
  2. authentic sex life: honor how each person feels
  3. creating sexual pleasure: this can be ever-changing

Women need to develop a personal path to pleasure – their unique method and style of creating pleasure with an ever-changing body and following an ageless sex philosophy – the physical expression of intimacy taking into consideration emotional needs, aging bodies and health challenges.

Think of your bed as a sandbox you played in as a child. You discovered limitless creative pleasure to do whatever you wanted. You can find that active, satisfying sex life again.

Unknown Speaker  0:05
Welcome to smart sex smart love. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboo and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. Today my podcast is on menopausal women, all stages of menopause, but you’ve been ghosted by your libido. Today, my guest is Dr. Susanna Mayer, a Board Certified sexologist with a doctorate in human sexuality. Her work focuses on typical adult lifespan, sexuality changes and challenges. In her private practice. She specializes in libido arousal, and the enhancement of intimacy and joy through creation of a personal eroticism. Dr. Suzanna hosts the monthly erotic literary salon adult sex ed gatherings that she founded in 2008. They are a verbal sanctuary for sexual expression and an outlet to normalize sex without shame. The audience is comprised of people with diverse ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations. Dr. Suzanna resides in Philadelphia, where she is known as the go to person for information pertaining to sexuality. She’s a frequent contributor to NPR, radio, and various podcasts, as well as online and print publications. Today, I’ll be talking with Susanna about menopausal women finding out if they’re being ghosted by their libido. Welcome, Susanna. I’m so happy to have you on the show. It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you for asking me. Absolutely. Let’s just start with how do you define libido?

Unknown Speaker  1:38
The way I define it and have used it throughout the book that I wrote called does sex have an expiration date is sexual energy that is generated by the combination of sex drive, and sexual desire. And how I use sex drive is that it’s mainly regulated and generated by biology, sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Whereas desire is influenced by psychological and social factors. But then you have sexual arousal, which is really not libido, but it does influence one part of libido and that is sexual desire. And I say this is my definition, because I must admit, sexologist and sex therapists haven’t really

Unknown Speaker  2:42
agreed upon what libido is you can read five different texts on it and find five different answers.

Unknown Speaker  2:51
That’s very helpful because I think people get confused. They don’t really understand libido when they hear it, and you’ve explained it so well, is there a natural test for a low libido.

Unknown Speaker  3:01
Unfortunately, there is no test for low libido because it’s very subjective libido. It’s how a woman feels about her body and the signs that it is putting out. However, there are

Unknown Speaker  3:22
tests for medical issues that can impact how you feel about your libido. And what I mean by that are hormone levels, thyroid problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disorders.

Unknown Speaker  3:41
And those are actual tests that you could get and give you numbers. And those can be impacting your libido. And so can medications that you take and unfortunately, a lot of medic medications that women take for what they call depression, and I sometimes referred to as malaise can create,

Unknown Speaker  4:06
can create sensations that make you feel like you have a low libido you’re not, you’re not having the fantasies that you usually have or you’re not having certain cues that take you to the next level that say, Oh, I would like to have a sexual experience. And there’s a catch 22 that gets set up there because quite often you feel depressed or have malaise or you feel bad, because you feel like you’re not having those fantasies. So you go to your therapist or your your psychiatrist and they recommend SSRIs or different types of antidepressants, and then the problem gets worse. So that’s unfortunate, but that’s

Unknown Speaker  5:00
What exists,

Unknown Speaker  5:02
it’s so I’m so looking forward to the show and you talking about this because we know what to do better, I think in the psychology field around high libido, but it’s low libido that everybody struggles with. And so you you sort of give a good map that a lot of therapists don’t have.

Unknown Speaker  5:20
Yeah, and, you know, unfortunately, it’s hard to tell sometimes, where that feeling of low libido comes from. And depending on the book, you read, depending on the health professional, you consult with, you either they usually sit in two camps. One camp is the medical camp, which says, Oh, you have to take hormones, or you have to take, you know, anti depressants, or just a whole range of medical ways of dealing with the issue. And then you have the other camp that goes totally natural. And that means just, you know, talk therapy, or even there are certain types of natural hormones that one can take. And so I like to give women options, I don’t like to treat them as if they are dumb individuals, because sometimes I read books, and I feel like, I don’t know who they’re talking to. But it’s very dumbed down. And I like to empower women by telling them, what is available, what is out there. And I offer questionnaires and

Unknown Speaker  6:43
various scenarios within my book, that allow women to figure out why they feel the way they do. And based on that, they can then go to their healthcare professional and go, listen, I just read this book. And I think X, Y, and Z, can we look into that, and then decide, you know, if that healthcare professional, is giving you suggestions, that feel right for you, because you might go to your therapist and say, Listen,

Unknown Speaker  7:22
my partner is just not really good at satisfying me, I think that’s what the problem is. And that person will give you a whole litany of trying to figure out why and how to put that together, when there are also other issues involved, because you haven’t looked at everything.

Unknown Speaker  7:49
And unfortunately, what I find a lot when a client comes to me and says, Oh, my partner is just not satisfying me.

Unknown Speaker  8:00
He’s not understanding my cues. And what I find out is, a lot of women put the onus totally on their partner, when in fact, she’s in charge of her pleasure, she needs to figure out what pleases her and not expect her partner to guess. And that unfortunately, a lot of women just don’t understand that if they’re not getting sexual pleasure. It’s really on them to create the scenario to figure out what cues and how, how to work with their partner. And those are all things.

Unknown Speaker  8:44
And I refer back to my book only because it’s so foremost in my mind, and I spent five over five years researching it and talking with my clients. And, you know, I certainly know personally how I feel and what my body is going through. I’m in my early 70s I’ve gone through a lot of things, but they’re not the same things. Another woman has gone through I mean, every woman is so unique. menopause is not x, y, z other than, you know, clearly menopause. It seriously is is a second is a day. It’s when you stop having a period for exactly one year. Everything is perimenopause before that day or post menopause but actual menopause lasts a day. And people don’t think of it that way. But that’s actually what happens and unfortunately,

Unknown Speaker  9:53
approximately as long as 10 years prior to that day of menopause.

Unknown Speaker  10:00
is when perimenopause starts. The problem is, women don’t know when that day is going to happen. For some women, and I’m giving average numbers here, it can be, you know, in their 40s. Or it can be in their 50s. Well, you can’t back to someone who’s in their 40s. And you’re now showing signs of menopause when you’re in your 30s. And most doctors don’t even think about menopause being an issue, when a woman comes to them saying X, Y, and Z, menopause is not high on that list. Let me ask you a question about because you’ve done a really good job, helping us understand how women can do and do and talk to themselves and learn about it for themselves, then telling their physicians do talk in the book about how people can talk to their partners about this because I, I know that women and you were saying women, you’re giving women a voice. And a lot of women don’t have a voice, whether they’re with a male partner or a female partner, is I’ve worked with lesbian couples, and they both don’t know how to have a voice with each other. So how do you help them without? Well, that is basically the blueprint of my book, it’s the book, I initially was going to write two books, one for men, and one for women, and the one for men was about women’s menopause.

Unknown Speaker  11:28
And then that just didn’t happen. Because so many men said to me, we’d never read that book. And so many women said, my husband would never read that book. So I thought, okay, write a book for women.

Unknown Speaker  11:46
So that they can go through it, mark it up,

Unknown Speaker  11:50
you know, parts that ring true for them, and hand it to their husband, I’m a permission guimar, I give permission verbally. And in this case, I give permission through my book. And I tell them exactly how to use it. Or I give them choices, you can leave the book on your night table. And of course, your husband might look at it and go, gee, that’s interesting. Or you can say, Listen, I just read this fabulous book got great ideas. And it might help me with an issue that I have. And I have to tell you, I mean, this book was really written for women who’ve been in sexless marriages, or who, who don’t really feel that sex is that important to them anymore, or there have been some major changes for them, or even minor changes. I mean, it doesn’t have to be major. But, and most women really don’t know very much about menopause, and how it actually affects their sex hormones, and their sexuality. And so they get to, I even have examples in the book of how to speak with their sex partners.

Unknown Speaker  13:18
And so they hand it to them, their partners can do it on their own parts of it are meant to be done together. And so to figure out where the changes are, and the next steps to take, and some of the questions

Unknown Speaker  13:37
I have people fill out, or are things that you don’t even really have to be going through menopause,

Unknown Speaker  13:44
it would be for anyone is to find out, you know, what behaviors do you like?

Unknown Speaker  13:51
That are what I would call triggers, to get you to the next step of sexual arousal or sexual desire and behaviors. You know, what kind of behaviors you would absolutely never ever do, do not ask me to do these, or these are behaviors.

Unknown Speaker  14:12
Think about I’ll do once and then I’ll reconsider. And other behaviors are of course, I would love to do this. And what amazes me when I have people who come to my office, fill these out.

Unknown Speaker  14:28
It is astounding how many women say oh my goodness, my husband said he’s been wanting to do this forever. But he was too afraid to ask me and I love it. Me people don’t unfortunately communicate, they just figure their partner knows they should guess. Yes, right. It’s so true. People don’t talk openly about it. I’d like to also if we could speak to what you speak about in terms of the ageless sex philosophy. Can you talk about that? Oh, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  15:01
So my ageless sex philosophy basically, is the expression of intimacy, we express our intimacy, through sexuality.

Unknown Speaker  15:15
But as you age, you have to take into consideration emotional needs your aging body, your partner’s aging body, the health challenges of both of you.

Unknown Speaker  15:30
Because if you disregard that, and you want that 20 year old body, and you keep comparing, you’re going to be very disappointed. I mean, I liken it to going to a health club, and expecting your body to pick up those weights as if, if you did it, let’s say in your 20s,

Unknown Speaker  15:53
as if you were in your 20s, and you’d be really disappointed, because your body isn’t there anymore, your body has changed, and especially through menopause. And by the way, I believe that men go through Android pause, which is very similar. Of course, they don’t have a period, they don’t men straight, but there’s as much more gradual. And so you have men who equate and women to

Unknown Speaker  16:25
being sexual as a performance. And you really have to throw it out that out the window, because you’ll, you’ll be extremely disappointed. And men in their mid 40s, their penises are not reliable anymore.

Unknown Speaker  16:43
And that’s when it really starts and it slowly gets changes as they get older.

Unknown Speaker  16:52
And unfortunately for men, when that happens quite often, they just stop having sex. I mean to them, it’s like if I can’t be hard, and I can’t have intercourse, I don’t want to go there. And women are at this loss of so what do I do. And so within my book, I talk about how to handle that.

Unknown Speaker  17:17
And also women, they know they have orgasms and have orgasms the way they have in the past. For some women, it feels like it has totally disappeared for other women, it just changes. And they and they don’t know how to create that same sensation they had when they were in their 20s because they’re, they’re wanting to go there. And what’s nice, and I I tried to find the silver lining and everything or even the gold lining for women

Unknown Speaker  17:50
is that it might take longer to have that orgasm. But in the end, it might be an actual stronger orgasm, sometimes not. Not all the time.

Unknown Speaker  18:05
And sometimes that period before orgasm, that riding the edge lasts a much longer time, and is very intense. And for some women. You know, I tell men don’t ask women did you come yet? Because for some women, they have no idea whether they did or not. It has lasted so long that those sensations of orgasm may not create what they call

Unknown Speaker  18:39
the actual orgasm for them is not what is the sexual pleasure part of it. It is the writing of the edge. In fact for them once they have the orgasm, it’s over.

Unknown Speaker  18:51
And they would prefer to last?

Unknown Speaker  18:54
Yes. What would you say?

Unknown Speaker  18:57
We’ll need a few more minutes left, that you want us to haven’t said already that you think it’s important for our listeners to know about your work. Oh boy, I didn’t realize this was going to be so short. I say everything

Unknown Speaker  19:12
goes fast. Oh, it does.

Unknown Speaker  19:16
Let me think very quickly,

Unknown Speaker  19:19
conscious coupling. And that is I talk about my philosophy which breaks down into three concepts the authentic sex life which recognizes and honors how an individual feels about their sexuality and they consciously act on it.

Unknown Speaker  19:41
It’s also made up of the personal path to pleasure which is a person’s pattern and style of creating sexual pleasure with their body that is it’s going to be forever changing. It’s never going to be the same and to do this either with a partner or so.

Unknown Speaker  20:00
Low and conscious coupling, which is living within that authentic sex life, within relationship and taking into consideration everybody’s needs. And by the way, this might mean not expressing yourself sexually. And I talk about that in the book. And I’m sure there are a lot of sexologist who are red flagging that comment. But I know a lot. Why shouldn’t say a lot, a fair number of couples who live without expressing themselves sexually. They have worked out how everybody gets satisfied with that. And they have wonderful relationships. That is a great explanation. I really appreciate everything you shared with us today. And all this information is super helpful, especially around women’s sexuality, which is still less known than male sexuality. So these these podcasts and your books are very important. And speaking of which, how can people find you How can people find your book, they can go to my website, which is my name, Susana mayer.com. And that’s spelled su s a n a mayor ma y er.com. And that’s one word.

Unknown Speaker  21:20
And they can also email me, Susana mayor, and then the numerical number three@gmail.com. Because they can purchase a book through me, or they can go to bookshop.org or Amazon. That’s great to know. Thank you, Dr. Suzanne. I really appreciate you being here. And for those of you listening, if you liked the show, please feel free to go on line and read it and let other people know that you enjoyed it. If you want to continue to hear more of my podcasts, it’s called Smart sex smart love. And you can find it on Joe court calm and on Apple and SoundCloud and all other places that post podcasts. And if you want to follow me, you can go either follow me on Twitter, tic tac, Instagram and Facebook at Dr. Joe court. That’s Dr J, e, k o r t. Thanks for listening and until next time,