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Crone Conversation #3

Melly writes:  "Oh my god! I thought Viagra commercials were bad, but then I just saw a commercial for Osphena. Ewwwwwww!   I just really don't want anyone talking about the details of their sex life to me.   

Melly I understand that television commercials that advertise these types of products can be uncomfortable to watch.  That might be especially true when they are shown during "family programming" hours when young children and adolescents are present.  As a society, we tend to want to protect and shelter children from these kinds of realities.  It is a well-meant reaction.  But really, what is the issue here?  Can we really say that children who watch television in our world are really sheltered from the subject of sex? Isn't broadcast television completely saturated with sexual imagery and sexual advertising and sexual innuendo?  Look at the Dior commercials, or notoriously, Abercrombie and Fitch.  Dentyne Ice wants us to practice safe breath, and the Doublemint twins are still out there encouraging us to "double your pleasure, double your fun."  Too, the music industry sells sex with hardly a wink these days; the sort of thing that British singer, Annie Lennox called, "highly styled pornography with musical accompaniment."  From the endless antics of the Kardashians, to the almost ubiquitous trash television in the "Jersey Shore," and "Desperate Housewives" style, we are all awash in sex -- and that includes our children and teens.  So it seems to me that if that is the argument that you are trying to make here, it is pretty seriously disingenuous.  And besides, maybe our children don't need as much protecting as we think they do.  After all, around the globe, children deal with serious life issues far beyond what most of our "sheltered" American kids can even imagine.  That's not ideal, for sure, but it also points to the fact that our kids are probably more durable and resilient than we give them credit for.

Could it be, then, that you simply cannot fathom the fact that many, many people, male and female, live with sexual dysfunction that decreases their quality of life?  Those Viagra and Cialis commercials may be targeted to the guys, but the problem they are intended to treat is far from just a male problem.  Any woman who has ever lived in a relationship with a man who is experiencing erectile dysfunction will tell you that it is her problem, too.  Sex isn't all there is to love, not even close, but it isn't "nothing at all" either.  Sex is an expression of intimacy between partners, and when it is lost, that loss is real.

Menopause is the sexual wasteland to which women are exiled when their childbearing years are past.  It is a secret place that we never talk about.  Why is that?  Why do we teach our daughters about the beginnings of their lives as sexual beings, but then act as if the ending phase of life as a female is unspeakable?  It is so easy, when you are young and fresh, to believe that it will always be "that way;" that you will always be ready to go, that the sex will always be good (hot, juicy, mind-blowing, etc.).  It is unimaginable, in the flush of youth, that there will come a day when sex will be painful, frustrating, and a thousand kinds of difficult.  But, that is the reality for just about all of us.  

So, now, there is a pill that can be taken to treat one facet of the misery that is menopausal sexual dysfunction.  It is not without risks, but for some, it might be an answer to a problem that only seems insignificant to those who have not yet crossed that line.  How, exactly, do you think that the millions of women who suffer from painful intercourse after menopause will ever find out about this new, hopeful medical advance if it is never, ever advertised?  Their doctors won't tell them.  It won't be offered unless the question is asked directly and specifically.  Probably the consensus is that there is no need for women who can't reproduce to be having sex in the first place.  Or maybe the assumption is that old, menopausal women just don't have any use for sex.  Really?  

All the years of women's rights battles, and we are still here, believing that the only reason that women need to be sexual is to make babies.  All of our science and all of our learning, and we still somehow are convinced that good, old, garden-variety sex is somehow bad and wrong -- that some all powerful, Church Lady God in the sky has a problem with us enjoying sexual intimacy.  We are animals.  Sentient animals, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.  We are, because we are so "smart," probably the only animals who think that sex is anything other that what it is.  Admittedly, we are among the very few (we think) who engage in sex for pleasure and not purely reproductive reasons, but we are definitely the only animals who are convinced that sex is ever, somehow wrong.

Melly, I am glad that Osphena and Viagra and Cialis are available to help the aging members of our society remain sexually active even when some might think that is unseemly or "ewwwwwww."  I wish there were more options for us all.  I hope, Melly, that by the time you are old enough to face the problems associated with menopause, there will be plenty of choices available to you and your medical practitioners.  


  1. This is such a great post! It made me think about a great many things that haven't experienced yet, but we all get older, if we are lucky.

  2. My Serafina would add that there are a number of herbal supplements that provide useful alternatives to drugs like Osphena. I'd say the same for Viagra an it's alternatives. Granted, herbs like saw palmetto or horny goat weed (two of the herbs I take) aren't going to get bright and shiny ad campaigns, nor will they make for television commercials to make your Melly uncomfortable, but they need to be part of this conversation too!

    1. I agree, Michael. There are a variety of productss that can help with this inevitable part of the aging process. The point remains -- we need to be talking about it. And those who believe they will be "forever young" need to understand that the issues of aging are their issues too -- and sooner than they believe.

  3. There are sooooo many things about menopause that we don't talk about - that we were never told. I feel... a bit betrayed that I never knew. And maybe more betrayed that somehow I'm supposed to become sexless at some point.


  4. weirdgirl2:33 AM

    Having just discovered that I am entering early(ish) menopause at 41 and childless, I hope that women WILL talk about sex later in life as I am terrified of what the future holds for me, in my naivete and ignorance...

    I am so happy that you are writing these posts, Sue. As thought-provoking as ever. Thank you.


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