Chances are, you’ve been led to believe some classic wives’ tales that are just flat-out false. You know, like you have to wait an hour after eating to swim so you don’t get cramps. Or, that swallowing gum means it will be in your stomach for seven years. Well we don't have any wives' tales, but we do have some great sex after menopause tips.
While it’s true menopause is a natural part of aging that marks the end of the female reproductive years, it’s by no means a death sentence for romance, intimacy, or sex. Understanding what menopause is and how it affects the body can lead to great sex after menopause.
What Is Menopause and When Does It Start?
Menopause happens after an individual has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. The transitional period leading up to that time is called perimenopause. Perimenopause is when the ovaries gradually stop working. The transition can be marked by a number of symptoms, including hot flashes, changes in hormone levels, irregular periods, pain during sex, and more.
Perimenopause normally begins between the ages of 45 and 55 but can start before or after those times. It typically lasts about seven years but can go as long as 14 years. Menopause can also start following any surgery to remove the uterus and ovaries.
According to the National Institute on Aging, a number of factors can affect perimenopause, including spoking, race, and ethnicity.
Menopause Symptoms That Make You Less Interested in Sex
Decreased Hormone Levels
During perimenopause, your estrogen hormones dramatically decrease. Lower estrogen levels can lead to pain during intercourse, lower sexual desires, and hot flashes. Lower hormone levels can also lead to vaginal dryness or atrophy,
Vaginal Dryness and Tightness
Losing estrogen can make it more difficult for the body to produce natural moisture, which can lead to dryness all over the body. The lack of estrogen can also lead to vaginal atrophy, which is where the vaginal lining gets thinner and drier from a lack of moisture. Indicators of vaginal atrophy include burning, itching, pain with intercourse, and urinary tract infections.
Chronic depression affects all parts of daily life, including sex lives. Depression can manifest in a number of ways, mentally and physically. When depression affects the brain, it can affect the chemistry needed for arousal and pleasure. If your brain is making it hard to function on a daily basis, it can make it next to impossible to get in the mood for any type of intimacy.
Moodiness and irritability are common symptoms of menopause. If little things are setting you off, it can be difficult to feel sexy or alluring. And if your partner’s actions are what’s irritating you? Then it’s no wonder it’s difficult to want to be intimate with them.
Menopause often makes it easy for people to gain weight, but not lose it. As estrogen levels drop, people tend to gain fat mass that is stored in their lower body, making them pear-shaped. On average, according to the University of Washington Medicine, most people can expect to gain 5 to 8 percent of their body weight in the first two years of menopause. Weight gain can affect a person’s self image and might make them self-conscious about getting naked or having sex, which can result in less intimacy.
Probably the most well known and least liked symptom of menopause is hot flashes. Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of heat across the face and body that can often be intense enough to wake people up from a sound sleep. The stories of waking up in bed having sweated enough to soak the sheets are told for a reason. There is no rhyme or reason to when hot flashes can occur, but it makes sense that the libido lowers when you often feel like a hot, sweaty mess.
5 Ways To Prevent Menopause From Changing Your Sex Life
Focus on Communication and Intimacy With Your Partner
There is no one way to deal with menopause and there is no one way menopause affects all people, but one thing that consistently helps with intimacy is honest communication between partners. If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, first talk with your doctor, but then talk with your partner about what your body is going through and what it could go through. Make it known that while your sex drive might not always cooperate, it doesn’t mean you love them or your sex life together any less.
Another added benefit of communication is it can head off resentment down the line. The partner not going through menopause might feel rejected or undesirable from a lack of intimacy, And if the one going through menopause is feeling pressured for sex when they are not interested, feelings could get hurt. Open communication can help avoid those feelings, or at least help diminish them.
Lubricants and Moisturizers Can Be A Big Help
Using lubrication is always a must – even more so when vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy are an issue. Even if you have no issues getting wet, getting wetter is always better. Now might be a great time to introduce lubrication aimed at enhancing sensations for both partners. The #LubeLife Sensations Kit Couples Personal Lubricant features one warming lube and one cooling lube that can be used separately or in combination. Both lubricants are safe to apply on the penis, vaginally or anally. If sensations are not your thing, consider flavored lubricants like those in #LubeLife’s Four Course Dessert Force.
Enjoy Moments: Take Time and Relax
While trying to get through perimenopause and all its issues, consider this an opportunity to stop and smell the roses. Focus more on romance as opposed to just the physical act of sex. Spend time with your partner, engaging in activities that remind you why you chose them in the first place. Plan times for physical intimacy together, but make it clear traditional penetrative sex might not be the outcome. Also, remember that an orgasm after menopause might not always happen. Being aware of possible outcomes (or non-outcomes) can take the pressure off and make it easier to get in a frame of mind for sex.
But in addition to scheduling intimacy, be sure to schedule romance. Go to the movies. Take walks and hold hands. Go on an overnight trip to a local bed and breakfast. If you and your partner can find times to decompress together, it makes it easier to be more relaxed. And relieving stress and frustrations associated with menopause and life in general make it much easier to feel sexy and desired.
Consider Healthy Changes and Medications
Some menopause symptoms can be alleviated with changes to diet and exercise. Weight gain can be controlled by eating more fruits and vegetables and limiting added sugars. Decreasing alcohol intake can also be beneficial. While a glass of wine or a cocktail might enhance libido, too much drinking can also make it difficult to orgasm after menopause. Regular moderate exercise can help with other health conditions that sometimes occur during or after menopause. Low levels of estrogen can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.
But it’s also okay to acknowledge that diet and exercise aren't the only option. In some cases, medication might be needed. Hormone Replacement Therapy (often referred to as HRT) helps to address menopause symptoms by replacing hormones in a natural way. The hormones can be leveled in a variety of ways: pill form, patches, foams, or even vaginal creams. HRT is not for everyone, however, so be sure to discuss your options with your doctor.
Try Something New: Get Creative and Have Fun
Remember that sex doesn’t always have to mean penetrative sex. If there are issues with pain or vaginal dryness, try using plenty of lube. Or, focus more on foreplay. It can not only relax both people, but extended foreplay can also give lovers the time to get the juices flowing — literally and figuratively.
You could try changing up your routine. Try new positions or different times of day for intimate encounters. Add a vibrator or other type of sex toy. Explore tantric sex, where the goal is not orgasm but to be present in the moment and to achieve a sensual and fulfilling sexual experience.
Dealing with menopause can be difficult on not just the person going through it, but their partner as well – but that doesn’t need to lead to no intimacy, no contact, and no sex. It doesn’t mean the end of orgasms after menopause. Instead, it can be an opportunity to find new ways to connect and explore one another’s bodies. Explore all options available so you can continue to have great sex after menopause.