Although the body undergoes vast and permanent hormonal changes during the menopause transition, postmenopausal women can still have an enjoyable and active sex life. Intimacy is a fundamental human need, and it’s easy to feel like the physical and emotional transitions brought about menopause can compromise that. The truth is, however, that while it may not be exactly how it was in your 20s or 30s, there are multiple ways to enjoy intimacy, with a few added hormone-related benefits.
Why Sex Life Changes after Menopause
Sex after Menopause
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The drastic reduction of estrogen that occurs in the years leading up to menopause can have a huge impact on both your sexual function and sex drive. These changes can:
- Lower desire
- Hinder Arousal
- Decrease vaginal elasticity and moisture
Increased vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable, even painful. More than a third of pre- and postmenopausal women report sexual difficulties, from low libido to trouble having orgasms. Later age can also be accompanied by injuries and chronic illness, which can adversely affect your energy levels, physical and emotional comfort, and sex drive.
The depression, anxiety, and mood changes that women face as a result of these hormonal shifts can further complicate intimacy and closeness, as can medications for high blood pressure and other associated symptoms. Work with your doctor to come up with a game plan to strike a balance between optimal health and preservation of quality of life.
Ways to Preserve Sex Life after Menopause
While it may take a bit more work than it prior to the menopausal transition, there are many ways you can preserve and even improve your sex in the postmenopausal period:
- Go for Quality over Quantity – Recognize and take advantage of periods of arousal. Though desire may not be as frequent as it was in the past, it can still be nurtured when it does. You and your partner may also find, however, that the focus of your intimacy shifts and that having less sex is perfectly ok with you.
- Increasing Vaginal Moisture – If you and your partner want to continue having penetrative intercourse due to vaginal dryness, there are many lubricants, vaginal moisturizers, and even prescription medications available to help you increase moisture. Talk to your doctor about your options.
- Dealing with Declining Hormone Levels – Some studies indicate that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can aid in libido over time, but the health risks may outweigh the benefits for older women. Talk to your doctor to determine if HRT is a viable option for you.
- Aiding Arousal – There are many immediate ways to increase sexual arousal in the moment. Massage oil that creates a sensation of warmth throughout the genital area is one way, as are devices like clitoral stimulators and vibrators.
- Pay Attention to Your Health – What you put into your body directly relates to what you get out of it. Excessive alcohol consumption can make it very difficult to achieve orgasm. Additionally, diseases that interfere with blood flow, such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, can severely decrease sexual response. Talk to your doctor to figure out how to best navigate these issues.
- Communication Is Key – Be honest with your partner. Communicate with them about your needs and concerns and be open to experimentation. If you’re unpartnered, discuss your concerns with potential sexual partners at whatever level you’re comfortable with. Anxiety and awkwardness can kill arousal as quickly as anything else. Communication helps to deter these barriers.
One of the benefits of sex after menopause is that there are fewer barriers to enjoyment than in their reproductive years. Many women say that the postmenopausal freedom from worrying about getting pregnant or having to arrange their sex lives around their period makes it easier to usher in a phase of renewed romance and sexual intimacy.
To learn more about the changes that menopause brings and to stay empowered in your journey, download the Responsum for Menopause app today!