It’s tempting to think sex after menopause is an inevitable (sometimes painful) descent into tedium and mediocrity. It’s tempting to think that – and indeed, for many women, that’s their reality. But sex after menopause doesn’t have to be the chore some women take it to be. Consider this study, which found many women find their sexual desire actually has an enjoyable spike after this biological milestone in a woman’s life. With that being said, it’s not a cakewalk. Sex after menopause is a different creature than before the big change. It may take a little work, but we’ll get you there. Let’s look closer at sex after menopause, and what you can do to curl your toes with passion later in life.
Why Sex After Menopause May Hurt
Painful sex is a common issue during menopause. It hurts for any number of reasons, including stress and hormone changes. Intercourse pain is a common issue with menopausal women, because there’s less estrogen to lubricate the vagina.
Intercourse pain is a common issue with menopausal women, because there’s less estrogen to lubricate the vagina.
You may have less elasticity too, because you have less vaginal tissue. That can make you feel tight, and make intercourse more of a chore than something to be enjoyed. Just worrying about painful sex can make it worse. Or you could have a health issue completely unrelated to menopause, like chronic pain syndrome or a yeast infection. Neither is an especially pleasant scenario, and warrant a talk with your doctor.
Is it Really a Hormone Issue?
Painful sex and loss of sexual desire tend to peak between 35 and 64. You’ve got a lot going on during those years – but it’s not always a hormone issue, say experts. Consider ‘receptive desire’. That’s the act of being aroused when your partner makes the first move. That does not change, assuming your body, mind and/or relationship issues don’t get in the way. Granted, painful sex is no fun, whether it’s from lower estrogen or something unrelated to hormones completely. Your job is to speak with your doctor and isolate the issue, what’s causing it, and put a little fun back in your bedroom.
Pain and Dryness
Before menopause, the female sex drive peaks before and after ovulation. When your periods stop, those revved up sex cycles go with them. Less estrogen means less blood flow to the vagina. Yes, it’s hard to dispute that hormones play a role in at least some of dryness women face with sex after menopause.
Your Move: Remove the pain. Try an over the counter silicone or water-based lubricant lubricant to reduce friction. We’re partial to HerSolution Gel here at Natural Health Source because it’s a natural-based formula and quite gentle in this sensitive area. Your doctor may recommend a vaginal moisturizer, or form of estrogen therapy. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on sexual desire, but it might reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms of menopause. Regular sex may help as well because it promotes better blood flow, which should help dryness.
This is another factor that can affect sex after menopause. Marriage, careers, teenagers and caregiving can all boost your stress levels, which doesn’t help your libido and state of things passionate. Your relationship is key here. If you’re not into your partner, your sex drive will suffer.
Your Move: Plan date nights and time to make love. Have less emphasis on the need for sex. Focus instead on each other, be it with massage, foreplay and oral delights. Don’t avoid sex, which can make things worse. Make time for it, and your relationship in general. There’s no shame in counselling, either if you hit a rough patch.
It’s common for desire to slow with age. Women are two to three times more likely to have this problem than men. That’s in part because of dropping testosterone. Yes, testosterone – while you may think that’s primarily a male issue, studies show testosterone plays an important role in the female sex drive as well.
Your Move: There is now an FDA-approved female sex drive, called Flibanserin. Research suggests it’s not terribly effective, however, and comes with health risks like fainting and even risk of heart attack (VERIFY).You should speak with your doctor about lack of interest in sex. He or she may prescribe a testosterone cream to address this. Kegels, exercise and not smoking may help boost your sex drive as well.
Moods and Meds
Depression and medications can lead to sex problems. Menopause can make mood changes worse, and are often complicated by the fact that SSRI antidepressants can mute sexual response. Some women take SSRIs just to reduce hot flashes, which is getting away from their primary function. While hot flashes are no picnic, this doesn’t help sex after menopause, and does not address other factors that could be at work.
Your Move: Speak with your doctor about fighting depression with pills and talk therapy. Some non-SSRIs, like buproprion, are linked to fewer side effects
Admittedly, you have a dangerous adversary. We all do – his name is Father Time, and he’s responsible for many of the grey hairs, extra pounds and visible signs of aging that hit us all at some point. This has little to do with menopause but everything to do with what’s going on in your head. Your body may not be cooperating either. Bladder problems, an underactive thyroid gland and chronic pain may all contribute to problems with sex after menopause.
Your Move: If you remember one thing above all else in this article, it’s this: speak with your doctor. He or she knows your medical history and can rule out any other issues that may affect your sex drive and desire. Care for your mind and nurture your body. Combine that with a little TLC for your relationship and recognize that sex after menopause is a journey with speed bumps. But it’s a journey worth taking, so anticipate change and accept your new reality. Take a deep breath, then roll with it – you may find sex after menopause will reward you in exciting new ways.
Recommended Resources: For a natural-based lubricant, consider HerSolution Gel. For a natural libido pill with black cohosh root, try Provestra.