November’s UP CLOSE topic is sexuality. This post is about understanding female sexuality. If you’re not comfortable with the topic, please don’t read the post.
A couple of weeks ago I was concerned about some psychological symptoms I’d been experiencing, so I sat down for a chat with my psychiatrist. “How are you feeling these days?” he asked.
“I think I’m a bit manic,” I said. (I have chronic depression and occasional hypomania, diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder II.)
“Really?” he asked. “You appear to be doing really well–why do you suspect mania?”
I will not quote my exact response, because I’m confident it would be TMI. But it boiled down to this: sex. Feeling sexy. Especially, unusually sexy. Hypersexuality is a common symptom of mania, so I figured that was the most likely explanation for my consistently ardorous (is that a word?) mood.
But surprisingly, the psychiatrist disagreed.
“How old are you again?” he asked.
He smiled and nodded.
I raised my eyebrows.
“This is one of those things they never told me in medical school,” he explained. “It’s commonly said that female sexuality peaks in the late twenties and early thirties, but I’ve found that estimate is about a decade off. I see a lot of female patients around your age who feel the same way you’re feeling.”
“Really?” I said. “So I’m not pathological?”
“On the contrary,” he assured. “You’re completely normal. Now, go home and attack your husband.”
And that’s where the scene ends, dear readers. But I hope this is where the discussion begins. I’ve been continually surprised, and often dismayed, by the lack of information I’ve received about female sexuality over the years. Pretty much everything I know has come from “independent research,” whether textbook-style or in the lab. And I think there’s something to be said for seeking and finding according to one’s personal level of (ahem) desire, rather than being systematically force-fed sensitive information. But when I look at my sixteen-year-old daughter, I’m not content leaving her to fumble around in the dark–literally, or figuratively.
So, talk to me. What do you know now that you wish you’d known sooner about your sexuality? What might be some effective and appropriate means of conveying that knowledge to the rising generation? Please feel free to comment anonymously. And rest easy–any trollish remarks from immature readers will be moderated.