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As women, society can often make us feel like we’re on a timeline. Not only are we expected to bear children by a certain age, we are also expected to cease being sexy as we get older. But we're happy to say that more and more women are throwing this timeline to the wind and charting their own paths! Many women are enjoying motherhood later in life in order to pursue their dreams. And those beyond menopause are reclaiming their sexual selves to take pleasure in vibrant, active sex lives. Though the focus of a woman’s sexual life will change over time, nature has given both men and women the ability to enjoy sexual pleasure for the duration of our lives!

And the truth is, sexuality and sensuality can change for a woman throughout her life. At some points feeling sexy comes easily, while other times being in touch with our sexual selves is the last thing on the to-do list. It may be a loss of libido, pain with intercourse, fear of pregnancy or STD’s, or stress regarding infertility. Anyway you look at it, women’s sexual needs and desires fluctuate naturally with time. And we know that an honest discussion about these matters can dramatically change a woman’s quality of life and help prevent unwanted health problems.

Many women overcome issues related to sexuality and fertility. Fertility, in the conventional sense, may not be an option for some women or it may not happen when they thought it would. But there are many avenues to explore within and outside your own body when it comes to fertility. Then there are women who reach the end of their fertility with great relief. They welcome the cessation of menstrual periods and the hassle of birth control, but aren’t sure what their sex lives will look or feel like in this new terrain.

The bottom line is that when it comes to our sexual selves, women are faced with overwhelming expectations. It’s natural to ask questions. We encourage you to do so, and to become as informed as possible. From questions about masturbation and low libido to the mind-body connection in fertility, we’ve been listening and providing advice on women’s sexual health and fertility for many years.

So here is a comfortable place for you to explore this sensitive subject and find answers to some of the questions you may have been afraid to ask.

Featured articles on sex and fertility

Understanding sexual arousal in women

Reviewed by Dr. Mary James, ND

Low sex drive in women

By Dr. Mary James, ND

Sexual exploration in menopause

Created by Women’s Health Network

See more articles on sex and fertility

Sexology 101 — ignite your sex life with advice from an expert. Sexual changes in midlife leave women understandably frustrated — and wondering how to get their “groove” back. Women's Health Network talks with sex educator Barbara Carrellas about ways to restore — or develop — your sexual identity.

Safe sex in midlife. With more Baby Boomer women enjoying revitalized sex lives, their risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection is on the rise as well. Learn what emotional and physical factors play into sexual wellness for women in midlife, as well as practical guidance in how to talk to your partner about safe sex (a useful skill for sexually active women of all ages!).

Health benefits of masturbation, Reviewed by Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD. Over two-thirds of women report never experiencing a “vaginal” orgasm. Here is a fresh perspective on the anatomy of the clitoris, and a discussion about the reasons why masturbation is healthy for our minds and bodies.

Endometriosis - how a natural approach can help, reviewed by Dr. Mary James, ND. As is true of fibroids, “endo” is on the increase. Learn its underlying causes, and what you can do to make it better short of surgery.

Premature ovarian failure or POF - what you can do, reviewed by Dr. Sarika Arora, MD. Aside from the unique emotional challenges a diagnosis of POF can present, there are unique health concerns to consider, all of which can be overwhelming. With new research on the causes of premature ovarian failure, we think the term “POF” fails to serve women experiencing this disorder. Here’s an update on conventional and alternative treatments, and advice on keeping yourself healthy through POF.

Choosing birth control — options for women, reviewed by Dr. Amber Hayden, DO. A woman’s ability to govern her own fertility is of primary importance to her health and well-being. Here is Women's Health Network’s three-part approach to choosing a birth control method, based on assessing each woman’s unique needs and prefererences.

Birth control method comparison chart. A compilation of currently available choices, this chart lists the pros and cons of the various methods and can serve as a useful guide to your birth control decisions.

IUDs and other non-hormonal methods for birth control. For women considering non-hormonal options for birth control, there is new information available on the safety and effectiveness of IUDs.

STD signs, symptoms and testing, reviewed by Barbara Carrellas, AASECT and David L. R. Houston, MA. STD’s are one of those global “facts of life” as old as humankind — but that doesn’t mean we should draw the covers up over our heads in dread or throw caution to the wind — neither approach will serve us. The best preventative is knowledge — and a good place to start for anyone concerned about their risks is by learning common STD signs and symptoms, as well as what’s involved in testing (see our full article on safe sex for tips on prevention).

What to expect with a pelvic exam and pap smear. Routine pelvic exam and Pap testing is the number–one way to protect your reproductive health. Don’t let fear of the unknown put you at unnecessary risk.

Reproductive health: colposcopy, ECC, endometrial biopsy, and genital wart treatment. An overview of some common evaluation procedures women undergo following abnormal Pap test readings, as well as treatment options for genital wart removal.

Treatments for vaginal dryness - natural estrogen products and more, reviewed by Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD. This comprehensive article details the variety of treatments available for vaginal dryness, one of the top complaints of women in or near menopause. Learn how these treatments work and how to use them.