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'I run a sex store for women over 50. Here are the 5 things I want you to know.'

Listen to this story being read by Shannen Findlay, here.

Orgasms are beautiful, and Susan Jarvis – the owner of The Spicy Boudoir – wants women to have more of them. Specifically, women over 50. 

Not just more orgasms either, but better ones too. That desire sprouted shortly after her divorce at 43, around seven years ago. Her sex life had dwindled with her partner and so had their love for one another. Jarvis was looking for something different, something distracting, something empowering.

So, she decided to open a sex shop.

Pssst! Only Mamamia subscribers can watch this video. Sex before skincare: Leigh and Karen's tips. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

The idea sprouted in the form of a now-defunct party planning business going up for sale – except there was a problem. It wasn't what she wanted to do.

"It was so tacky," she told Mamamia. 

"There were a lot of messages I wanted to put out there," she explained. "I felt this urge to create something that was classy and tasteful, but also to represent older women as sexual beings – because we will be until the day we die."

Jarvis wanted to build a store that would become a space where older women's sexual pleasure was not only accepted, but encouraged. And that's exactly what she did. The journey wasn't the smoothest, but she learnt a few important things along the way that she'd now like to share with you.

1. Sexual satisfaction is available for everyone

The Spicy Boudoir followed a journey of self-discovery and was created to keep women over 50 front of mind. But Jarvis' mission didn't just stop with representing older women. She wanted plus-size people and those living with disabilities to find pleasure and feel liberated in their sexuality too.

"I've lived with osteoarthritis in both knees," she explained, which prevents her from getting into certain positions during sex or masturbation. But through her personal research, she's found workarounds and just-as-satisfying alternatives that she happily shares with those who wander into her store. 

Finding ways to focus on her pleasure in her own way has brought about so much confidence for Jarvis, and that has her believing completely that "you don't have to look like a penthouse model to be a sexy, confident woman". Instead, you just need to explore your body, sensuality and prioritise your pleasure – it's the fastest way to feel sexy!

2. Perimenopause shouldn't put a stopper in your sex life. 

Finding your sexuality through perimenopause is no easy feat – and that's something Jarvis is all too aware of. 

She went through almost all of her 40s dealing with perimenopausal symptoms: "Hot flashes, mood swings, putting on weight, brain fog, all that sort of stuff. 

"It made me want to remind everyone that menopause is not the death knell of your sexuality."

Arousal can diminish significantly thanks to the menopausal stage, research has found. However, it doesn't mean sex or every form of pleasure is off the table. 

Jarvis says that while menopause can be "the catalyst" which causes men and women to shake up their lives, it can also mean the time of a reawakening – or, in her own words, "a rediscovering of their power".

"Sometimes they're learning that they can be sexual in a way they never have been for the entirety of their lives," she explained. "Menopause is the catalyst to shake up their whole life, and that's what's happening through divorce or separation. There's a rediscovering of their power."

"But through that time the clitoris will keep functioning," Jarvis told Mamamia. "We have to understand that our ovaries stop driving our arousal after a certain point in our bodies, which means arousal needs to become responsive. We have to take the time to build up arousal because you won't get that instant 'fire up' feeling anymore."

3. There isn't a problem that can't be fixed by a sex toy.

In starting The Spicy Boudoir, Jarvis wanted to make the process much, much easier for women to find the right pleasure devices for them. Through being connected with occupational therapists and going through her own journey of finding the right sex toys for her, it's rare for her to have a problem she doesn't think can be solved by a sex toy.

"I have carpal tunnel in my hands so a product with a very strong vibration is incredibly uncomfortable to use," Jarvis explained. "Sometimes even holding a product can create an aching feeling in my wrist. So I wanted to offer a product based on a particular need." It's for this reason that Jarvis segments the online store into groups of toys that work best for different physical needs. 

But which is the most popular sex toy at the store? Jarvis states that the Elixr Play 'Amethyst' Vibrator is one she restocks over and over again, as it flies off the shelves every time. 

The Elixir Play Amethyst Vibrator. Image: Mamamia. 

"It's by an Australian owned and flexes and bends with the curves of the body," Jarvis said. The only plastic on the Amethyst is wrapped around the motor, she went on to explain, so the toy is completely flexible.

But when it comes to her favourite, one toy – and one toy only – comes to mind: 'The Melt' by We-Vibe. 

"It's a small handheld device that doesn't hit my hand," she told Mamamia. "It's comfortable and small enough to use during sex and if we were having intercourse, we can actually put it between our bodies. My partner can actually experience the pleasure of the vibrations as well. That's one of our biggest sellers too."

The Melt by We-Vibe. Image: Mamamia. 

4. The key to orgasms doesn't just sit with the clit.

Of course, Jarvis also wants women to understand that while our clitoris plays a major role in our orgasm, our sexual partner and headspace need to be in the right place too. 

"We have a clitoris and yes, that's the behind our orgasm 99 per cent of the time – but orgasms actually live in our head and mine gets buried by my to-do lists," she said. "'Has the dog got water? Do we need milk? What did I forget to put on the shopping list? What appointments or what tasks have I got to get done?'"

For this reason, Jarvis believes sex, as a whole, needs to be reevaluated. 

"We have to stop believing that sex has to be a penis in the vagina – it's so much more than that. It's conversation. It's touch. It's intimacy," she explained.

5. There's a world beyond sex toys.

Throughout her 55 years, Jarvis has been on a journey of sexual self-discovery, and while a huge chunk of that discovery can be credited back to the store, there's something else that changed her perspective on pleasure: Water.

She's known to masturbate in the ocean to the motion of the waves, and she's been using water for the majority of her life to receive pleasure. 

"I didn't own a sex toy until I was 35 and so there was something very erotic about being in the bath or the shower and masturbating on my own," she explained. "You do need the right equipment for a start – whether that is a shower nozzle with a jet stream on it or a slip mat to prevent falling over. It brought up a really delicious feeling that I was giving myself this pleasure and no one else knew about it." 

This delicious feeling – whether it comes from water or a buzzy new sex toy – is one that Jarvis wants to be as accessible as possible. She genuinely wants women to feel confident to ask more, to demand more and to know much more about how they can receive pleasure – especially as it took her so long to find the sexual freedom to do that. 

"God, I wish I'd known when I was 23 what I know now," Jarvis said. 

"I would have had a different life, but then I wouldn't have gotten married or had my daughter and I wouldn't be a grandmother. I don't have any regrets about my experience at all, but I hope I can help women get to know their sexual selves much earlier. Because there's more fun to have that way!"

Susan Jarvis is the owner of The Spicy Boudoir. You can find more from her on her Instagram or website

Feature Image: Mamamia.

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