This article is part of the Lily Lines newsletter. You can sign up here to get it delivered twice a week to your inbox.

Illustrations by Eugenia Mello.

There are far too many euphemisms for the three-letter act: afternoon delight, knocking boots, dancing in the sheets, shtupping.

Shall we just be blunt? To quote the eternally wise words of hip-hop girl group Salt-N-Pepa, “Let’s talk about sex” — and your questions and concerns surrounding the subject.

A word of background: A new HBO series, “Mrs. Fletcher,” in which a woman in her 40s embarks on a journey of sexual exploration, hits screens Sunday. We wanted to know how real women ages 40 and beyond are feeling about intimacy and sexuality, so we asked. You sent us comments and questions, and we sought out answers from experts.

Here’s what you wanted to know, and what we found out.

You’re far from alone. Pia Holec, a psychotherapist at Chicago’s Resilience Psychological Services, often sees a mismatch in libidos. “What I tend to see in heterosexual couples is that women feel more pressured to have a specific amount of sex per week, or per holiday, or whatever the case may be, where it’s in contrast with their partner,” she says.

Often, women are bearing a lot responsibility: working, taking care of children, shouldering household duties. “They’ve got a million and one things to do, where sex just sort of falls to the bottom of their list,” Holec says. “And these are typically women who even before they were partnered or before they had children, didn’t have as high of a sex drive. So sex is no longer something that was a destressor for them, where it might be that way for their partner.”

In these instances, Holec talks with couples about the sexual excitatory system and the sexual inhibitory system, which she likens to the accelerator and brakes in a car. Think of it this way: “Some people, you gently tap the gas and they’re ready to go; other people, you gently tap the brake and they’re coming to a full halt,” she says. So it’s a matter of ascertaining, “What gets you going, what gets you excited? Perhaps you need to have all of your tasks completed for the day. Perhaps you need to feel really good about your body.”

The key is to figure out what thrills you and what puts a damper on your desire, Holec adds, and then to assess where your partner falls and how you two might be able to compromise.

Compromise, rather than capitulation, is crucial.

Unequal sexual desire between partners can be difficult for both women and men, says Catalina Lawsin, a clinical psychologist based in California who specializes in sex therapy and couples counseling.

There needs to be a negotiation, she says, a balance. But first, you’ve got to identify your own needs, Lawsin says: “You can’t go to the table with negotiation if you actually don’t know what you want.”

Forget the numbers; there’s no right answer. “When we think of outcomes and sex, we often think frequency,” Lawsin says. “And unfortunately, one thing we know when it comes to sexual satisfaction is that frequency does not equal quality.”

To gauge what’s right for you, Lawsin says, ask yourself:

The stats can be intimidating, she says, because “everyone wants to know, where do I fall above or below the line? Okay, where is your line?”

Lack of sexual desire can be one of the most challenging circumstances to treat, Holec notes. For instance, she says, imagine that “you don’t like chocolate and I keep telling you you’re supposed to like chocolate — just keep eating more chocolate and you’re going to like it — that’s not going to happen for you.”

But there are solutions. Begin by reconnecting with your own body, Lawsin says. “Start with yourself, start actually just touching and noticing what tingles,” Lawsin says. “It’s not only about masturbation and focusing on your genitals, it’s focusing on your neck and your arms, and literally, how does your hair feel stroked as you brush it?” Pay attention to the different sensations that you’re feeling.

This is called sensate-focused therapy, Holec says. Developed by sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, this approach is about removing expectations and focusing on experience. Two to three times a week, she advises, touch “your body from head to toe, focusing on three things: temperature, texture and pressure,” Holec says, adding: “Rub the back of your neck, see how that feels. Rub the inside of your elbow. Rub your forearm.” Take note of temperature. Do you prefer the sensation of heat or cold? Try rubbing your hands together to warm them, she says, or using an ice cube. Then, texture: Do you like something smooth (try a feather) or hard (try your fingernails or a hairbrush)? Finally, pressure: Do you enjoy a soft touch or a firmer touch?

This process can help you become more comfortable with your body.

Going through this process helps you identify what you enjoy; after a few weeks, you can incorporate your partner.

“The partner is just the kindling,” Lawsin says, they “really just get you started, but our sexual experience, the ride, the orgasm, that’s up to us to harness and to potentiate.”

Go for it, Holec says. “There absolutely isn’t anything wrong if you just decide, ‘Okay, I’m interested in trying something different now.’” Lawsin concurs. The whole idea of sexual fluidity, she says, is that desire is in fact fluid:

Let’s say you’re in a relationship, and you’re worried about bringing up that attraction — or any variation from your typical sexual behavior — with your partner. “There’s a fear there, right? It’s almost having a fear of, what does it mean? How will someone else receive this? How am I going to explain this to my partner?” Holec says. “And so I often say that, with sex, communication is the lubrication, and you’ve got to be communicating.”

Admittedly, that communication bit can be easier said than done. Holec performs sexual history intakes with most of her clients. She asks questions like, “What were the messages that you received growing up about sex? Where did you learn about sex? When did you and your partner start talking about sex?” Often, she says, when a person is preparing to tell their partner about something they’d like to try, “they don’t even have the verbiage to explain it themselves, and so then they feel more apprehensive to explain it to their partner.”

Sex, Holec says, is often about confidence. You may feel that you need to lose weight or become toner or more muscular, but she poses this question: “How can we find internal confidence?” One tactic she suggests is looking at yourself in the mirror naked. (Are you shaking your head? Just hear her out.)

“So many people aren’t doing that,” she says, “and so they want to have sex with the lights off or they want to make sure they have a T-shirt on, because they’re not confident with their body, because they’re not even looking at themselves in the mirror.”

Lawsin advises embracing your body as it ages and evolves. One thing that leads to passionate sex is novelty, she says.

+ Please don’t fake it. “I never promote anybody faking it,” Holec says. “It’s like you’re setting yourself up for failure, and then your partner thinks they're doing a great job and they’re really not.” There are potential long-term risks, too. “With this whole fake it till you make it,” Lawsin says, over time, “meaning years, maybe even decades, I do think that begins to allow us to suppress our sexuality, where we don’t even know where we’re at anymore.”

+ There is an orgasm gap. “It takes an average healthy man about five minutes to reach orgasm,” Holec says, “whereas with the woman it takes about 18 to 20 minutes before reaching orgasm.” So foreplay is supremely important.

+ Talk with your doctor. It’s important to “make sure, particularly as we’re aging, that everything physically is okay,” Lawsin says. Women typically often don’t talk with their physicians about the sexual changes that might occur as their bodies change, she adds. “There’s so much about men and impotence and erectile functions. But women, we don’t talk about it.” She points to potential health concerns, like “vaginal dryness, and how our fatigue levels and our energy levels are going to shift, and how our sleep affects our sex drive. All of those things absolutely are going to shift our desire, as well as our enjoyment of sex.”

Today’s sex dolls can talk and they’re warm to the touch. Their lifelike qualities could change everything.

AI sex robots were rolled out a couple years ago, but every few months a more developed doll comes along

The menopause guide for all ages

It’s an inevitable part of life. Here’s what to know, plus recommendations for women going through it.

Rapper T.I. said he ensures his daughter’s hymen is ‘intact.’ Here’s what an OB/GYN wants her to know.

The rapper said he accompanies his daughter to the doctor each year