The 'M' Word...Why Every Woman Should Try It

By Date Like a Grownup's Bobbi Palmer for

Masturbation. There…I said it. The "Big M." I don't generally talk about this, so it may shock you. But the time has come to chat about the role sex - or lack thereof - plays in the life of a woman in her later years who is single and looking for love.

There are many circumstances that may render a woman celibate for extended periods of time, especially if she's a single woman over 40. The days of hooking up are over, and until she finds a meaningful relationship she's keeping her lovely legs crossed. She may have come out of a loveless, sexless marriage that lasted way too many years. Or maybe she's so scared of being rejected for her not-so-elastic skin that she persists in finding excuses to keep her clothes on. (This includes ending potentially good relationships to avoid getting naked.) Oh, and don't forget that she's menopausal: the icing on the cake!

The longer the span of celibacy extends, the more likely she is to hyperventilate at the thought of intimacy. So she keeps putting it off, and the clock keeps ticking.

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She's had plenty of opportunities, thank you very much. She need only hop online, turn on her chat feature, sit back and wait for the conversations that start with "Do you like to kiss?" and move quickly to "So…what's your favorite position, baby?" She can get laid; she just doesn't want to.

Now…here is my very personal confession: "She" was me.

I married for the first time at age 47, and I went on hiatus many times during my 30 unmarried years. I am more than familiar with the sexual abyss. And now, as a Dating and Relationship Coach for Women over 40, I help many women move through this part of their life.

Related: Can Women Have Sex Like Men?

My experience is that life without touch and sex can lead to a woman feeling unattractive or even asexual. To adapt, we may convince ourselves that a life without sex is okay -- which creates the slippery slope to believing that life without a partner is okay.

Now in my 50s, I'm enjoying a wonderful life of love and intimacy with my husband. I can tell you honestly that I don't believe it's okay-or at least the best it can be - to have a life without sex and intimacy. At least for most of us.

Here is what a doctor once told my friend about this: use it or lose it! It makes some sense that the longer you go without stimulation and feeling sexual, the harder it will be to go for it when it comes along in the form of a loving partner.

So this is my advice on how you can rev up so you're ready for action: The Big M, girlfriend. The Big M!

Related: Has Feminism Ruined Romance?

Yep…I've been reading up on masturbation lately. There are so many positives about pleasuring yourself, especially if you are without a partner. Here are some facts:

  • Masturbation can improve your spirits. "It can improve a depressed mood," says Kathleen Segraves, PhD, a sex therapist and associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University.
  • It can help you relax. Women tend to worry and replay experiences over and over in their head. They call that rumination - I know you're familiar with what I'm talking about here - and it's been linked in numerous studies to depression. "If you can start pleasuring yourself, that will often interfere with ruminations," Segraves says.
  • Scientists speculate that some factor associated with orgasm (by yourself or with a partner) may suppress pain or actually suppress the migraine process.
  • Learning to climax through masturbation gives a woman confidence and personal satisfaction. Most experts agree that when a woman can reach orgasm through her own efforts, she's a step ahead when she's with a partner. She is able to show a man how to please her, so she is more likely to climax with a loving partner during love play or intercourse.

See what I mean? Not only can self pleasure help you get in the mood, but it can help you improve your mood! Use it or lose it girlfriend…use it or lose it.

So I have a suggestion: start taking advantage of this healthy behavior and get yourself some sex toys. Don't snicker. Sex toys aren't hush-hush anymore, and they have something for everyone.

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