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Fertility – it’s Not Just About Babies

It’s the day after Easter, religious holiday for some, an excuse to eat chocolate bunnies, and for others an old (pagan) ritual observing the rites of fertility and spring. No matter what you think of the day, we are in the season of spring—new beginnings, blossoms, lambs and chicks, all things we associate with fertility.

As women in the menopausal phase of life, we no longer see ourselves as fertile. Maybe we feel as if that part of our life is over. Yes, we’re free of the challenges and blessings of fertility, in the physical sense, but we are no less fertile at this age. And no less desirous, or capable of, enjoying sex.

Sex was viewed strictly as a way to procreate, for us to continue the species on earth. Historically, couples married and mated in order to produce offspring. Once a woman no longer had her menses she might not have sex any longer; in some religions and periods of time, sex for pleasure was forbidden.

Today we know, to our delight,  that sex need not be related strictly to procreation. Pleasure is high on the list of reasons to engage in intimacy with a partner. Pleasure has no age limits. At age 25, 49, 75 or 91 we seek pleasure. How we go about bringing pleasure into our lives might change—but nonetheless, we turn to others or pleasure ourselves in order to experience sensual feelings, intimacy and sexual release.

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I believe women remain fertile throughout the entirety of their lives. Post-menopause does not dry us up in life…or necessarily for sex. Creativity, energy, ambition, fun-seeking behavior, learning and giving are with us through out our lives. We have fertile imaginations. We plant the seeds for relationships, embrace new ideas, and go about our daily lives productively. None of this ceases to be important when our menstrual periods stop.

So, why would we consider ourselves any less alive or vibrant as we age? Think about famous older women throughout history and decide if they’ve shut down due to age? Do Judi Dench or Queen Elizabeth seem to be just sitting quietly waiting for the end? What about Georgia O’Keefe who painted into her 90’s? Alice Munro published a collection of short stories in the year she turned 80. These women remained vibrant and full of life beyond their ‘expiration’ date.

Today we live in such a youth-obsessed culture that it’s easy to see ourselves as slipping towards invisibility as we age. Our society uses that obsession to dismiss us. Sometimes we actively dismiss ourselves as well. It always saddens me to hear a woman talk about her sex life drying up. Or her creative energies—and I do believe they are connected.

“I’m old enough that it doesn’t matter any more.”

Our bodies change, our wants and needs change. The libido ebbs and flows—and we translate desire into something new as the years pass. But, underneath it all, we remain Woman until the day we cease to exist on the planet. And, that means we have the pleasure of tapping into all of our creative, fertile energies. It’s up to each of us to discern what that means in our lives.

“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” – Rumi

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Walker Thornton

We are delighted to have Walker Thornton as our Women’s Sexual Health columnist. After working for over 10 years in the field of sexual violence against women, Walker is now enjoying a new career as a freelance writer, public speaker, and sex educator with an emphasis on midlife women. Her blog, was ranked #5 by in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2014. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter For questions about sexual health, write her at

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Monday 21st of April 2014

I agree! Menopausal doesn't mean dead! :)

Walker Thornton

Tuesday 22nd of April 2014

Hi Diane, Thanks for reading! We're alive and well-thriving I hope.

Doreen McGettigan

Monday 21st of April 2014

It is hard not to feel fertile, creative and new now that Spring is here. You have me thinking too...

Walker Thornton

Tuesday 22nd of April 2014

Doreen, yep! I always feel this surge in spring. And, why not work on keeping that energy and sense of growth all year round?

Karen D. Austin

Monday 21st of April 2014

I do think there is value to expanding the definition of fertility. Psychologists of late life talk about the value of generativity -- nurturing growth in self and others. Growth is possible throughout the lifespan! I'm experiencing this in my 50s. It's very cool.


Monday 21st of April 2014

Me too! I'm rolling into 60 this year and I feel as full of life, fertile and juicy as ever.

Carol Cassara

Monday 21st of April 2014

This is so brilliant and deep. Thanks--I sat with it a bit. Fertile energy, indeed!


Monday 21st of April 2014

Carol, thank you. I'm glad it got you thinking.

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