(Sex Re-Education)

How Do I Feel Sexier In & Out Of The Bedroom?

Time for a glow-up.

by Alyssa Shelasky
TZR; Stocksy/Shutterstock

Sex (Re-) Education is a sex and relationships advice column for women in their late 30s, 40s, and beyond. Got a question for Alyssa? Fill out this form.

Dear Alyssa,

I’m a working mom in my 40’s. I love my children, I adore my husband, I’m blessed with good friends and a successful career. There’s one problem: I’ve let myself go. My body shifted after having kids, and I don’t know what looks good on me anymore….I literally don’t have one bra that fits and all my underwear is old and ratty. Not to mention, post-pandemic, I never really got out of my sweats (do I have to?).

It’s not just the bod. My face looks blah. My hair is frizzy. I know it’s all superficial, but I feel my lack of confidence negatively affecting everything, especially sex. I’ve been avoiding intimacy because I don’t want my husband to see me naked, and when we do have sex, all I can think about is how bad I look while we’re “doing it.” It’s hard to be present and “in the mood” when all you can think about is how much weight you’ve gained and how jiggly everything is. Sometimes I even worry I don’t smell good and I know that’s just in my head. My husband says I’m crazy for thinking about any of the above. But…it’s just, like, so many negative inner voices. That was never my experience before! Like all moms, I have no time, no energy, and no idea where to begin. However, I need a sexy glow-up ASAP. Where do I even start?


Mom Flop

Dear MF,

We all know that being a mom is the hardest damn job in the world. And being a mom who doesn’t feel great about herself — physically, mentally, spiritually — multiplies the stress and exhaustion of it all infinitely. However, I am very hopeful (like, 100% positive) that there’s a way out. You are not stuck in this uncomfortable place. You just need to find, or at least redefine, your sexy. How? Well, let’s focus on what’s making you feel most powerless — even if it’s just an evil little demon inside your head — and pay it a visit. And then let’s get to work.

Which brings us to the body-talk. I am not the writer who’s going to tell you to make peace with disliking your body. So the big question is: What works for you in terms of getting healthy again? Is it cardio? Gut health (take this test by THORNE if so — life changing!)? For me, I had to join a bougie pilates studio, and pay an unlimited monthly fee, so that I’d feel too guilty about spending the money and not going. Also, walking for an hour with a fabulous podcast is a unique form of parental bliss. Double down on whatever gives you the most transformative results. Exercising on the reg will likely make you hornier, feel a bit more tuned into your body, and increase your energy levels.

If you're reading TZR, you’re already tapped into beauty culture — so I’ll just add that my personal sexy-mama hacks include a perfume called CLEAN RESERVE Skin that honestly makes you smell like an effortlessly-beautiful celebrity, and for a bra and undies refresh, I always turn to CUUP. Now I’ll pivot to sex.

vitapix/E+/Getty Images

Before we talk about the brass taxes of sleeping with your husband right now, I do want to say that sex can totally be de-prioritized while you re-center yourself, and focus on your holistic health, for a while. But that’s up to you. And only you. If you definitely want to keep things up in the bedroom, the vital thing to think about here is that maybe you need to start to engage with sex differently. What works for your husband — post having kids — is NOT going to be the same thing that works for you. I can guarantee that. So, I need you to listen to your body. Even if you’re mad at it, listen to it. What are you into these days? Any positions that make you feel more comfortable than others? Are you masturbating and fantasizing at all? (Please say yes!) Do we need the hubby to spend more time learning your post-baby body with his hands and his mouth? He definitely won’t mind if you ask him to try harder there. You can also tell him if you want to have sex less frequently, but with more intentionality. That’s a very sexy thing to say. So let’s evaluate sex from all angles, not just the electric scale. OK?

Above all, the mind is our strongest muscle, and the slightest mental shift can do wonders. As you might have felt from my last column, 2023 was my bummer era. But after a few months of dragging my relationship, and taking all my blessings for granted, I got bored of myself. I don’t want to be the woman who hates sex and loves complaining; I want to be luminous and balanced and beautiful. So that’s the self who I locked into for 2024. And this little intention of mine — to feel attractive and curious and libidinous — inside my very own skin seems to be sticking. So give that a try, plus everything else above, and let me know all the ravishing results.