An Aussie mother has opened up on how she has transformed her sex life despite suffering from painful osteoarthritis and going through menopause, insisting: “It’s not a passion killer.”
Susan Jarvis, 52, suffers from the painful condition in both her knees which can impact her movement and even make it difficult to go up and down stairs unaided.
“Most days I’m okay but if I have to go to an event I need a walking stick, I can’t climb a lot of stairs and I’ve noticed a change in the way people treat you as well,” she explained in an exclusive chat with Starts at 60.
However she hasn’t let it stop her enjoying intimacy with her partner and offered some tips to other people over 50 who are struggling with painful joints.
“Obviously I’m very careful with the way I move. Moving around the bed, we just take our time,” she said. “It’s not a passion killer. Some positions can be painful so I just learn which ones work.”
She also said that when her knees are particularly sore, she gets her partner to tickle or stroke them to distract her mind away from the pain.
It’s not just health issues that can impact people’s sex lives as they get older and Susan admitted she’s noticed her desire for intimacy has diminished as she’s gone through menopause – something many women experience in their late 40s, 50s and 60s.
“It’s not just about having an orgasm, it’s the whole journey. I know my body is changing, I’m in the early stages of menopause and I don’t experience arousal like I used to 10 years ago,” she admitted.
“But we talk openly about everything, I told my partner that I don’t feel that same urge, like that ‘grr, come here’, but let’s not stop because after foreplay I’m there! My foreplay will take longer, but hey it’s fun!”
Susan has since set up her own website, The Spicy Boudoir, aimed at inspiring couples over 50 or anyone struggling with a disability to embrace their sexuality and enjoy intimacy again.
With it, she’s personally enjoyed a new level of intimacy after leaving a painful marriage and eventually settling down with the love of her life – after experimenting for a few years as a single woman.
During her marriage, Susan admitted she rose to around 165 kilograms and lost confidence in herself. Since leaving her ex, she’s shed an amazing 40kg but admitted she’ll always be a “large lady”. However, it’s never stopped her enjoying an active sex life.
“Cellulite doesn’t come into it at all, neither does having a big bottom or a wobbly tummy. I’m still a very large lady but my body size has never restricted me from having a wonderful sex life,” Susan added.
“I’ve had quite a few lovers and met some incredible people – I haven’t slept with them all – but I’ve had some incredible conversations. I grew up as well. And here I am!”
As she’s got older, Susan admitted she’s notice people judging her differently – but advised all women over 50 to ignore others’ opinions and feel confident in themselves.
“I’ve embraced grey hair which I love, I think it looks incredible, I wear red lipstick, make-up and big earrings usually, but I just can’t help but detect the change in the way that you’re perceived by people that don’t know you,” she said.
“I’ve sort of had this pissed off attitude to the world! I have a great life with a beautiful partner.”
Now her website’s aim is to strip away negative stereotypes and stigmas associated with the expression of sexuality, particularly when it comes to older couples or those struggling with illness or a disability – with sex toys on offer as well as first-person blogs and expert advice.
“There’s a common belief that once you’re over 50 and hit menopause (or man-o-pause) that your sexuality becomes redundant. Another common misconception is that people with a disability do not desire sex. That is entirely untrue,” she insisted.
“My mission has become to create a brand experience completely unlike the stereotypes of the sex industry. I do not want my customers to be hit in the face with neon colours, plastic genitalia or phallic devices as soon as they enter my store.”
Susan is now urging people in a long-term relationship who have managed to get over the hump to revive their sex life, or any couples struggling with health concerns or illnesses and disabilities, to get in touch. Finally, the Spicy Boudoir is a vendor in the Starts at 60 Marketplace. Visit their store.