Menopause and sex - PART 1
This is part one of a three-part series of articles discussing a topic many people may consider taboo; menopause and sex!
Both menopause and sex are becoming more openly discussed and portrayed in the media; however, they are rarely discussed together.
Part one of this series is all about how menopause affects sex and desire. Part two will be about sex AFTER menopause, and part three is for our partners; to share some tips and tricks on enjoying an active sex life during and after the change.
During menopause, the decrease in sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone can change a woman's sex drive and desire. The most commonly noticed changes include decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, self-consciousness and lack of intimacy with our partners.
Please note that all women experience this stage of their lives differently. While it is common to see a drop in sex drive, some women will experience a spike in sex drive. This may be attributed to less anxiety linked to fear of pregnancy.
Getting in the Mood
Hot flushes, prickly skin and weight gain, don't precisely scream SEXY, which may be why many women report becoming less interested in sex as they navigate menopausal changes.
Older women are rarely portrayed sexually or desirably without being fetishised. These ingrained social attitudes may increase feelings of self-consciousness, which in turn cause your sexual interest and activity to wane.
It's prevalent for women to notice that they're not as quickly turned on by touch, stroking or heavy petting. Some women experience touch avoidance because of the sensitivity of their skin during this time, while others experience total desensitisation to touch. This can also take longer to have an orgasm, and they may be less intense.
However, this may be an excellent opportunity to foster a new sense of intimacy for yourself and your partner. Finding new ways to become aroused starts with open communication and may lead to changes in sexual routines, focusing on foreplay or experimenting with erotic content.
Getting Down to Business
We know many physical changes during menopause, and many of them can directly affect sex. One of the most significant ones is the decrease in estrogen, which causes the walls of the vagina to become thinner and drier and lowers the blood supply to the vagina. These changes can directly affect vaginal lubrication and may cause sex to be uncomfortable or painful.
As you adapt to your changing body, your sexual preferences and what you enjoy may change as well. Trying sexual activities that don't involve vaginal penetration, such as oral sex, sexual aids, and mutual masturbation, could keep things exciting in the bedroom. Remember to share with your partner about sex and the changes you're experiencing, so they have an opportunity to support and adapt with you.
Another thing to note is that during menopause, your vagina may become more susceptible to bacterial infections, so personal hygiene is key to maintaining healthy sex life during this phase.
Although sometimes confusing, painful and frustrating, this is a beautiful phase of transition that marks another stage of a woman's journey through life. This is an opportunity to explore what works for you, your partner and your lifestyle; have some fun with it.