Midlife Women, ADD, and Sex


What’s the connection?  Well, women’s bodies change as the age, affecting how they experience sexual pleasure.  And, ADD women (and their partners) need to understand the unique issues related to sex.  Before looking at these three topics, let’s first consider the gender differences about sex. 

Gender  Men and women have very different timing for sex.   A woman needs to feel a sense of connectedness, an emotional intimacy before her mind and body are ready for sex.   A man, though, tends to feel emotionally closest towards a woman after he has intercourse.  You can see the inherent timing conflict – which may not be apparent to each partner.  For more details in explaining this, check out my fun article called “The Train Station and the Airport.”

Of course, you both know the importance of foreplay.  Here’s what you may not know — a woman needs what I call pre-foreplay.

Pre-foreplay entails his helping you feel more emotionally connected.  It is non-sexual.  It could be a relaxing massage, a walk around the block talking about anything other than children, money, household or relationship problems.  It could be looking at old photographs.  Pre-foreplay includes anything that allows you to remember that you love this man and want to be sexually close to him.

ADD * This is a neurological condition (see my article “When a Person has ADD”).  One of the many significant characteristics of ADD is the brain often has a hard time making transitions from one task to another.  Another is the brain is either easily distractible or it hyper-focuses.  In sex, for instance, an ADD man, (if there is a good relationship) may hyper-focus on what he is doing to the woman and his own pleasure.

A woman, though, may have a hard time transitioning from what she is doing to engage in sex.  Then, during sex, her mind may stray to her shopping list, or the children’s lunches, or a work project.  It’ not that she is not interested in (if there is a good relationship), but her mind has difficulty shutting off her other responsibilities.  The trick then, for her and her partner, is how to help her transition to love-making.

Aging and Mid-life Sex  This is where you need a four letter word that ends in K.  No, not that one!  Talk.  You might say, “We’ve been together for 30, 40 years, of course he knows how to please me.”  Once you enter perimenopause or stop your periods, your estrogen and testosterone (yes, women and men have both) levels drop, meaning you may have less sexual feelings.  In the past, when he initiated, you would have been interested, now your body sighs, “ho hum.” 

Even if long ago you had talked about what you each like sexually, with the changing levels of hormones there is a need for a “refresher conversation” to discuss what works best now to get your body to respond.

If you are vaginally dry, intercourse may be painful. (He may feel inadequate that he can’t arouse you enough for you to become wet.)  Your GYN can help you with the dryness.  However, that would not necessarily raise your sensuality.  Many women need external stimulation to get aroused.  Using a multi-speed vibrator during love-making can be exciting for both of you.  Or, a feminist porn film, or any other means of assisting your lowered libido.

ADD and Midlife Sex   In addition to external stimulation, your ADD may need help to stay focused on love-making.   No matter how much you love your partner, the combination of your lowered libido and your busy mind make it hard to be attentive.  It is important for you and him to not personalize this.   

You know your mind wanders, but you and he may not be aware that even something as minor as the wind moving the drapes or feeling the rumpled sheet can be a distraction until you are in a high arousal state.  If, as a couple, you talk about what to do when this happens, non-defensively and without guilt, you probably can come up with ideas to help you stay focused.

TIPS  Here are some are some tips to guide you in this discussion.

  1. Non-sexually, take turns gently touching, rubbing different parts of your body to rediscover or find new areas of sensitivity. Some may be more arousing than before while others may have gone dormant. 
  2. It might feel embarrassing at first, but the payoff should be well worth it.  He may be doing what he’s always done, but your breasts are not as sensitive; you feel nothing or it hurts.  You may not have spoken up for fear of hurting his feelings.  It probably would hurt more for him to know his best efforts were wasted on you.
  3. Sex should be fun. Since your arousal time will be slower now, you more time for fun before heading to orgasms.  If you lost the fun or if you never freely had it, now’s the time for some belly laughs. 
  4. Length of time. This is a topic you may never have considered.  Does he take too long?  Is he holding off his orgasm in order to please you more?  Do you feel pressured to fake an orgasm to get him to hurry up?  Instead of letting your mind drift to the next chore, talk about your timing differences.  For instance, if it takes him longer now (remember, he’s older, too), perhaps talk about how he can get hard before you even start making love.  Be creative, come up with other suggestions.
  5. Given your body may need different and more stimulation, consider a multi-speed vibrator. When you include this as part of the love making, he won’t feel inadequate as if this instrument were replacing him.  Practice together to see how to make it most effective.
  6. ADD needs variety. Consider different positions (use a book for ideas).  Consider different rooms, i.e., kitchen, dining room table, living room sofa.  Make up a code name for your sexual encounter.  Instead of saying “making love,” or “let’s do it,” try “Want some ginger snaps tonight?” 
  7. Not every sexual encounter needs to be long, fun, athletic, creative, etc. But, these are adjectives you could put into some of your sex which will help both you and he stay focused and engaged.
  8. Your ADD brain needs to be kept focused. That’s where humor, laughter, exploration of something new becomes helpful.  It’s also easier to stay focused if you are enjoying it.  Take note when your mind wanders.  Then, or before the next time, talk about what you each can do to help. 
  9. Research shows that many women, if given a choice between intercourse and cuddling, would choose cuddling. There are a number of reasons for this, but one could be that women do not take charge of making sure to get the most satisfaction from their love-making.  Therefore, don’t let him always take the lead.  Don’t just go along and say whatever he does is fine.  No, it’s not fine for you and certainly not fine for him or your relationship if you two are not working together to assure you getting maximum stimulation.
  10. Remember: Sex is a collegial activity.


*   Some people are comfortable referring to themselves as ADD, while others prefer to speak of “having” ADD.  This is a purely personal choice.

If you have questions or comments or want more information, contact me at:

Dr. Karen Gail Lewis

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