Sex. We have it, we enjoy it.
But for some women, this isn’t the case, especially women going through perimenopause and menopause. For some, it’s possible to experience pain and dryness during intercourse, reduced skin sensitivity and arousal which makes them less sensitive to touching and stroking. A woman may also take longer to reach orgasm and the feeling may be less intense.
Well…that doesn’t exactly sound ideal.
So what the hell is happening? Why the hell is it happening? One word: Hormones. As if hormones weren’t disrupting our lives enough, they then have the nerve to go and disrupt our sex lives as well; and that’s just plain rude!
One of estrogen’s many roles in our bodies is to keep the vagina well elasticated and lubricated. So with the decline in this hormone at midlife, the vagina starts to become dry, less elastic and stretchy, which in turn leads to painful intercourse. Less estrogen also means a drop in blood supply to the vagina, so you’re less likely to be in the mood.
Testosterone gradually declines with age and plays a role in a woman’s sex drive and sexual sensation, so a decrease in testosterone means a decrease in sexual desire.
Hormones alone are not to blame for a decrease in sex at perimenopause and menopause. As we age, our libido naturally decreases, which means our desire to have sex also drops with age. And although sex drive naturally decreases gradually for both genders, it is more likely to affect women, especially those in their 40s and 50s.
Other menopausal symptoms can also affect your sex life. Hot flashes, for example, can disrupt your sex life. The thought of having sex after a hot flash, after feeling that intense and uncomfortable heat, would be unthinkable, and being close to someone is the last thing a woman would want to do after a hot flash episode.
As women age, their body also begins to change. The social attitudes women generally have favours youth and thinness, and older women are barely portrayed as sexual or desirable. This can make many women feel they are less attractive when approaching menopause, and this attitude can cause their sexual interest and activity to decrease.
On the Flip Side
However, some women have found they actually have an increased interest in sex at midlife, they are free from contraception and have some newly found privacy due to the children leaving home, which allows them to relax a little more and enjoy intimacy with their partner again. Make sure you are still practicing safe sex as you can still be exposed to STI’s, and can still get pregnant. It is recommended to use contraception for at least 1 year after your natural period has ended if you’re over 50, or if you’re under 50, use contraception for at least 2 more years.
What To Do?
Hormone therapy is a treatment some women choose to take in order to reclaim their sex life. A low dose of vaginal estrogen can keep the lining of the vagina healthy which can be in the form of a cream or an insert, however, it is best to speak to your health care professional regarding your options for the best type and delivery method for you.
Sex, sex, sex!
The saying ‘use it or lose it’ applies here. Regular vaginal sexual activity is important for vaginal health after menopause as it stimulates blood flow, keeps the vaginal muscles toned and maintains vaginal length and stretchiness.
Eating healthy, exercising, avoiding substances (such as nicotine, alcohol) can help to maintain a healthy weight, which will make you feel more confident, as well as increase your libido, getting enough rest will provide you with more energy and stamina to get in the mood.
Limit Sex Disruptors
Depending on what they are, if other menopausal symptoms are disrupting your sex life, treat those first. If it’s the kids, organise to have a babysitter or take a weekend away with just your partner. Try to reduce
Boost Your Sexy Self Confidence
How you feel about yourself and your body can go a long way in reclaiming your sex life. Feeling sexy and full of confidence makes you absolutely desirable. Your partner will not be able to keep their hands off of you and you’ll suddenly feel a spike in your libido and feel ready to get it on.