Because of lower levels of the hormone estrogen during perimenopause and the loss of estrogen following menopause, it causes changes in a woman’s sexual functioning and in her vagina. Menopausal and postmenopausal women often notice they have trouble being as easily aroused, are often less sensitive to the touching and stroking that would usually bring them to arousal, the consequence of which results in decreased interest in sex.
Also with the lower levels of estrogen comes a decrease in blood supply to the vagina, which produces common symptoms often including dryness, itching, irritation, burning sensation, and sexual discomfort. Without good vaginal lubrication, the vagina is often too dry for comfortable intercourse without the use of lubricants.
These symptoms will start at different times for each woman and can get worse over time if not addressed and managed with some form of treatment or compensation. It is always best to consult with your physician because vaginal symptoms can be successfully treated but it is as in all things related to menopause, on an individual case by case basis that will determine the best treatment for you.
Your whole reproductive system is affected with menopause because your periods stop. You may experience less lubrication which will probably give you a feeling of vaginal dryness. This is one of the things that can be addressed with supplemental estrogen and/or use of vaginal lubricants. It is possible to treat vaginal dryness, some sexual discomfort and irritation and the burning sensation accompanied with sexual intercourse with the readily available water-soluble lubricants such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly and other lubricants you can find at your local grocery store and shops specializing in sexual products. It is highly recommended not to use anything that does not specifically state it is for internal use.
Also, until your doctor confirms you are not producing any more eggs and you can not become pregnant and and to prevent contracting sexually transmitted diseases you should not forego precautions for this and always used a condom. Also, be sure to always use the appropriate gels, lubricants and creams that do not deteriorate and/or weaken latex (the material used to make condoms Non-water soluble lubricants, such as Vaseline, can also provide a good medium for bacterial growth, particularly in a person whose immune system has been compromised and weakened by chemotherapy. Keep in mind that STD’s and AIDS is not an age, menopausal or other related disease. You must always use a condom to protect yourself from this and especially if you are with more than one partner or you are not sure if your partner is.
Menopause Effects on Sex
The walls of the vagina can become thinner and less elastic which can also contribute to some pain or discomfort during sex in menopause. The thinning of the vaginal walls and loss of elasticity can easily be determined by your gynecologist with an ultrasound. Use of the ultrasound can often be a great way to determine upon inspection, the condition of the walls of the vagina, uterus and other female organs, just what stage of menopause you are in. Your doctor then is able to know just how to assist you through the perimenopause and menopause stages to avoid some of the symptoms accompanied with this time of a woman’s life.
The lower estrogen level women experience with menopause is not the only reason for the decrease in libido.
There are often many other factors, some listed in the Menopause Symptoms explained below.
They include but are not limited to:
- Menopause Insomnia caused by night sweats and other contributing factors
- Hot Flashes
- Menopause Weight Gain
- Menopause Weight Loss
- Menopause Hair Loss
- Menopause Depression
- Menopause Bleeding
- Bladder Control Problems
- Menopause Anxiety
- Stress related or unrelated to menopause
- Other health Issues related or unrelated to menopause
- Medications related to other health issues
Please don’t assume you will have a decrease in your sexual desire due to menopause. Often this time of your life brings with it a sense of sexual freedom due to the fact that once determined by your doctor to be in Menopause and it is known that you cannot become pregnant, you enjoy the freedom from the risks of pregnancy as well as the risks from the birth control that also may have inhibited your desire due to your reaction to the form of birth control you were using.
Many women have an increase in sexual satisfaction due to this newfound freedom. For the first time since becoming a woman, after beginning her menstrual cycle, she can go without the birth control and all the problems and issues associated with them, and have the freedom to experience sex for the pure enjoyment it brings without the worry that she could become pregnant. So due to the decreased anxiety associated with a fear of pregnancy, often women that are post-menopausal also have fewer child-rearing responsibilities, which allows them and their partner to relax and enjoy the intimacy that would often be interrupted or have the ever present possibility of being interrupted, by parental responsibilities. This factor also presents new possibilities for sex in different places in their home allowing for freedoms and creativity otherwise limited by young children in the home. Both partners see each other in a new way which makes for a renewed sense of each other’s sexual being and gives the relationship new life and excitement that may have previously been more mundane and banal within the confines of locked doors and certain hours or days they could be sexual with one another while the children were asleep or away. Also, their work schedules may have changed due to semiretirement or retirement to allow them the mornings, afternoons and evenings, or travel that brings new experiences and places into their sexual relationship with each other. This is their time and many women love being the center of her man’s attention now that their work, children, and other responsibilities are different. This gives a couple the time and opportunity to reflect upon their lives and goals together and be more focused on themselves to enjoy the retirement they worked hard for. Enjoy this part of your life and the new freedoms it gives you. This is one of the benefits of menopause; remember, I said there would be an upside. This is one of the better ones.
To enjoy this particular benefit and the various joys of it outside the obvious one of having more freedom, a better self image and the happiness that comes from a more satisfied partner as well as your own satisfaction, this promotes more of the same as well as more orgasms. More orgasms are one of the things that help to reduce many of the symptoms of menopause and helps you go through this phase of your life a little more effortlessly. Not a bad side effect and cause for more effort in this area. This is yet another benefit to menopause.
Menopause Sexual Therapy
To treat sexual problems in women today, there is hormone replacement therapy. This is yet another choice you need to make as to whether you decide to do this with synthetics or use a more natural form. You need to see an endrocrinologist to discern which is right for you after it is determined by blood or saliva tests, (the blood test is more expensive but more inclusive and conclusive). This also is the means by which your doctor will be able to see what your hormone level is to know what to recommend in creating a better balance hormonally for you.
Estrogen is often used to treat vaginal dryness, and many things that contribute to the overall appearance of aging symptoms. There are a lot of studies regarding the combination of estrogen and the male hormones, called androgens that have proven helpful in increasing sex drive in women.
Please don’t be shy about discussing these and other issues with your doctor. Though they may be difficult for you to discuss, it is well worth the risk to overcome your initial uncomfortable feelings to reap the results of this benefit to your life. Even though you think you have gotten along just find without this feature in your life, it may have caused many other issues between you and your partner which might just go away and give you the relationship you always hoped for now that you two are alone, you might as well be able to enjoy it. Seek the professional advise of a counselor, which is another option and should probably be included once you start to explore your new life as a postmenopausal woman to ensure you don’t bring all the old issues and justifications, rationalizations and silly outdated thoughts from what was your old relationship or the old you. You and your relationship have a new beginning, take it like a gift and create the one you have always dreamed of.
If necessary, your doctor may refer you and your partner to a health professional that specializes in sexual dysfunction to assist you on this issue. Often, the therapist may suggest sexual counseling for each of you on an individual basis, with your partner, or in a support group. All of these types of counseling can be very successful, whether on a short term or long term basis to be determined by you and your eventual result. But one thing is for certain. This one more area of life in which it is always the case, whatever you put into this, is what you will get out of it. Be honest with yourself, and your partner the therapist, and the group. They can’t help you and you can’t help yourself unless you are dealing with the facts. Prior to speaking with anyone else, talk to you. Decide what you want, need and desire for yourself. Make a list of your goals. Think about how you got to where you are now and what you think need to happen to get to where you want to be. Think again whose responsibility it is. You made choices and reacted to things and if you choose to stay focused on the past anger, pain and sorrow, that is where you will stay. Focus of who you are today. Ask yourself who you want to become, and how do you want to feel. Laugh, love and enjoy love and you will experience life from a wonderful perspective and your menopausal experience will be easier, supported by your partner and you will find it pass gently with all the other things that bring you to a happier future with more freedom.
Menopause Sex and Patience
Even if your sex drive isn’t the way it used to be, assuming it was more active, or maybe you never were very active but now wish to be, but you don’t feel you or your partner need counseling, this doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t have intimacy you both deserve. You and your partner need to take time for intimacy with each other. This does not necessarily mean having sexual intercourse. There are many ways to express your love in ways that are intimate. Being affectionate with your partner can be expressed in many ways. Try enjoying your time together doing the things that you might not have otherwise done together. Do some of his activities that you might like or learn to like. Make time to take long romantic walks and discover or rediscover your areas more rural areas or walk different neighborhoods and talk about the improvements you see that you might like to do to your own home. Create candlelit dinners as a surprise and dress for dinner to surprise your partner by making yourself look good showing you care about what they think of you. This is a good prelude to a different ending to the evening and don’t worry about the mess in the kitchen. You can’t see it from the bedroom or what ever room you end up in anyway. Give each other massages, foot rubs, and give hand rubs in the car to express your tenderness and concern for them in a way they can feel. These things will break down the old barriers that once prevented you from experiencing each other in a way that allows you to freely express your feelings toward one another.
There are many ways to promote your sexual self and improve your physical intimacy. Some of the suggestions given will also decrease your menopausal symptoms such as working out whether it is walking, weight bearing exercises, yoga, Pilates, and all the different classes that a gym would provide that also help to encourage you to continue when you would otherwise probably stop to answer the phone, or do something else if you were to be working out at home.
There are many ways that encourage and promote a more sexual and sensual you and will also help you to help your partner in this way. One is to realize this is also a good time to gain some knowledge about your anatomy while your body is going through so much. And, by the way, I want to thank you and say that you are to be congratulated for reading this site to educate yourself on what is happening to you and what you can do to make the experience easier and enjoy the journey to give yourself the benefits of this transition.
In educating yourself about your anatomy, also learn about the normal changes associated with aging, sexual function, behaviors and responses. This will help you to overcome any anxieties or self consciousness about sex in general or performance. Keep in mind, this isn’t a test. It is to enjoy yourself and bring pleasure to your partner. If it doesn’t hurt you, him or the relationship, it’s probably OK to do it but be sure it is something that won’t adversely effect either of you or the relationship, even later, and go at a pace that suits you both.
Menopause Sexual Innovations
Experiment with different things such as sexual toys, erotic materials that are just for this purpose to have fun and learn such as videos and books. Also learn about masturbation and different changes t sexual routines to enhance and stimulate both of you to be creative.
There are a lot of different techniques to increase relations and eliminate any anxieties either of you may have. Please don’t forget, just because he’s the man it doesn’t necessarily mean he has knowledge or experience in these matters. Everyone has their own pace and boundaries set by their past experiences or lack of it, family, environment and what they have assumed due to lack of knowledge. This is a time for you to discover together some fun and wonderful experiences. You can use fantasies to stimulate yourself, game playing, role playing and so many different sexual toys. There is a lot of music you can use to help keep the beat and give sort of a rhythm to your lovemaking. This can help a lot if either one of you or both are lacking in this area so you aren’t out of beat with each other and missing a beat at a moment (such as just as you might be about to climax), much worse than stepping on your feet while dancing. Using music, videos, game playing, role playing, fantasies, etc. can also be a wonderful distraction to prevent thinking and just react which can often accomplish a more desirable affect at a time like this.
Giving each other a sensual massage is a physically stimulating activity that does not necessarily have to include intercourse. In fact, it is advisable if you have any reservations about having intercourse, it is best to agree not to have intercourse unless whoever is uncomfortable regarding this issue has to ask for it and change the outcome. Otherwise, the other person must keep to the agreement and not beg at the end to have intercourse because of their arousal. This would undermine the trust of the other and prove to set the whole process back a great deal. Be responsible for yourself now and always. And, besides, unless begging is a part of the role playing it isn’t something that is becoming as a rule. If you can keep your word, then proceed and give a great massage to relax and bring enjoyment to your partner. It really helps in so many ways to increase communication between you and your partner with the knowledge that they can trust you. Do whatever you can to help yourself and your partner relax. Take a warm bath with sweet smelling oils and soak until your body is totally relaxed and you’ve already rid yourself of any stresses from the day.
Try out sexy/trendy dresses that you can wear in private especially in bedroom.
While experimenting, always be aware of how comfortable your partner is mentally and physically. There are many sexual positions that can control the depth of penetration and some can be uncomfortable for a woman that has menopausal issues due to thinness of the vaginal wall, lack of natural lubrication, and general pain in that area due to many changes her body is going through during this time. You can use pillows to prop up either end of either or both partners, depending on what position you desire. If it is a time when you are experiencing a little more discomfort in that area and penetration is not permissible, then oral sex is a wonderful answer and gives you an opportunity to experiment more with another whole realm of possibilities. The added enjoyment of using vibrators and other sex toys is always a wonderful change to help heighten both your enjoyment. Some people are a bit uncomfortable with the fluids ejaculated during sex. If this is the case, or neither of you wishes or is capable of getting up after a good sexual romp, it is advisable to keep a small towel handy beneath the pillows at all times to help facilitate the quick clean up by simply reaching for it prior to his pulling out and putting it under the area and cleaning the area prior to dozing off blissfully together.
Menopause Sex and Medicines
Use of the vaginal lubricants to help reduce pain caused by friction and keeping them handy on the bed, or wherever you are having sex, is really important so you don’t have to stop and find it. Use the lubricants liberally so you have plenty to slather on and around each other for the stimulation of the entire area of your erotic zone. Sometimes shaving the area can heighten your enjoyment for the skin to skin which has a very stimulating effect on many. Shaving your partner can also be a wonderful intimate experience that also helps both of you to educate yourselves more on your partner’s genitals. There are many stages of being shaved in this area. Many like a completely clean shaven area for maximum feel, while other like a little area sometimes referred to as a ‘landing strip’. This is yet another decision you two get to make and enjoy the different nuances of the new sexual relationship and the secrets you share as a sexually active couple in a new phase of your life together.
As frustrating and upsetting as the above may sound, take heart there are many ways to counteract and also prevent these symptoms and conditions, including the anxiety and depression often associated with menopause with our expert advice. You can and will pass through this phase and move into a wonderful, new phase of freedom in your life.