How Does Menopause Affect Sexual Function In Women
Just as every women experiences menopause differently, women may or may not experience changes in sexual function after menopause. Since estrogen levels are lower after menopause, some women may notice that their libido, or sex drive, is decreased. Low estrogen levels can also lead to a decreased blood flow to the vagina, resulting in difficulty with lubrication or in dryness which that can make sexual intercourse less pleasant and painful for many women.
Not all women report negative changes in sexual function after menopause. For example, some women may find sex to be more pleasurable without the fear of unwanted pregnancy or without the potential stresses of having small children.
Physical Changes After Menopause
Your body goes through many physical changes during menopause, many of which can have an impact on sexual intercourse. These changes are primarily due to shifting hormone levels, especially a decrease in the amount of estrogen your ovaries produce.
Some of the physical changes you might experience with menopause include:
- Gradual weight gain
- Vulvovaginal atrophy that results in dryness, itching, and pain
- Frequent urination and increased levels of urinary tract infections
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Sleep problems like insomnia
Some or all of these uncomfortable symptoms might negatively influence your sex drive and affect how desireable or pleasurable sex is to you. You might even experience pain or discomfort during sex. In addition to the physical changes, many women experience mood swings and emotional changes before, during, and after menopause.
The good news is that there are ways to keep sex great after menopause. Once you know why you might be experiencing painful sex after menopause, you can explore different treatment options.;;;
Talk It Out With Your Partner
Even if it’s just the physical changes of menopause that are making sex painful, talking it out with your partner can help alleviate the stress and anxiety surrounding the topic. If you’re single or your partner isn’t the talky type, your ob-gyn is available to lend an ear. I always encourage women to have a good, trusted gynecological healthcare provider to speak with, Dr. Minkin says. A doctor, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner can be a valuable source of advice.
You may also want to talk to a sex therapist, who can help you be more open about what you need and want from your partner as well as reminding you that the changes you’re experiencing are perfectly normal.
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How To Have Great Sex After Menopause
Menopause can do a number on your sex life. These 6 gyno-backed solutions;will keep things super pleasurable.
Menopause and sex don’t always go hand in hand. Why’s that? After menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop making estrogen, the main female sex hormone. This can be a tough adjustment, because estrogen is responsible for so many bodily functions, from bone health to steady moods to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol.
But the hardest change many women deal with has to do with the vagina. Estrogen keeps the vaginal lining elastic and moisturized, and it also helps power your libido. Without estrogen, vaginal tissues atrophy, dryness sets in, and arousal is more difficult. When you do have penetrative sex, it can hurt and even cause tearing inside the vagina.
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I see women whove gone years being told that a normal part of aging is to have pain with sex, says ob-gyn Lisa M. Valle, DO, medical director of Oasis Women’s Sexual Function Center in Santa Monica, California. By the time they come see me, thats what I hear. The fact is, theres a lot you can do.
Not all women experience painful sex after menopause. Without the fear of pregnancy, some women say they’re more relaxed during intimacy. And at this point in life, they typically don’t have young kids to take up all their time, so there’s more opportunity to enjoy the action.
Menopause Can Have Mental And Emotional Effects Too
Most people dont like their period, but when it goes away you feel your age, Dr. Rowen tells SELF. For some people, the idea of losing their period can be psychologically distressing.And as we mentioned, your hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone, change during menopause. And this change may cause feelings of anxiety and depression. Lower estrogen can also trigger hot flashes that make it difficult to sleep, leading to mood swings and anxiety. Coupled with any emotional distress from losing your period, and you understandably may not be in the mood to have sex. If you feel down for more than two weeks, you may be depressed and want to speak with a therapist, the Cleveland Clinic recommends. However, finding a therapist can be a long, and often stressful, process. . Generally, you will want to start by asking your insurance company for a list of providers. If you dont have insurance, websites like Open Path include therapists who offer reduced-fee sessions.
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Solutions Can Involve Over
One of the symptoms of decreased sexual arousal in women is the reduced amount of vaginal lubrication. Over-the-counter vaginal lubricants can augment lubrication. If the decrease in vaginal lubrication resulted from menopause, vaginal estrogen therapy can help if lubricants and vaginal moisturizers are not enough. Estrogen is the only proven prescription drug therapy for this condition.
The best resource for arousal is our brain. Being on very pleasant terms with your partner and thinking sexual thoughts are two important components for getting aroused. Think about what you find arousing. Let your partner know when he/she does something or wears something that appeals to you . Make a mental list. How can those things be incorporated into your lovemaking? If thoughts and feelings are not enough, there are many lubricants and sex toys available to explore.
With All That Said You Can Still Have A Great Sex Life In Menopause
Pizarro and Brown-James both agree on this point. In fact, Dr. Pizarro says meno post-menopausal people have very active sex lives even without taking estrogen. Whats more, sexual satisfaction might increase once someones been through menopause.
There are a few reasons that might happen. The worry of being pregnant is no longer there, says Brown-James. Also, some people experience an increase in their sexual awareness of their bodies. Many women have not been taught to explore their bodies and have internalized ideas that the vulva or vagina are dirty or for someone elses pleasure, not theirs, she explains. A lot of times, if the knowledge that none of that is true hasnt taken root before, it gets dispelled at this point, and women realize their bodies are really for themselves. Bonus: That may also lead to more intense orgasms, says Brown-James.
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Since She Hit Menopause She Wont Have Sex: Ask Ellie
Q: Id like to know the time when my wife had menopause, with hot flashes every so often. I cant remember at exactly what age she had it, Im guessing it was between 45-48.
She never discussed it with me, as a husband, only to my daughters, so it seems like Im left out.
When she got over the menopause, I was cut off, there was no more sex together.
Whats the reason for that? It makes the relationship difficult for me.
It wasnt like that in her younger years. She always wanted sex, even twice a day. Now Im missing out on the fun times and romance.
She even closes the bathroom door to get changed.
A: You leave me guessing, too, as to what happened between you two.
Menopause can be very difficult and distressing for some women sudden, uncomfortable hot flashes, pain on intercourse due to excessive dryness, irritability from those effects plus hormone changes that affect moods and more.
Yet sexual relations dont always end because of menopause unless there are other factors such as a husband not getting it that the symptoms and discomforts take time for his wife to accept and manage.
Or, when the wife believes either from old customs handed down or lack of modern education and awareness that the change symbolizes the end of intimacy.
But maybe its not too late. Since youve made the effort to write me, perhaps you can still make an effort to reach out to your wife.
BUT, dont make it all about sex.
Ellies tip of the day
Physical Changes With Menopause
Around menopause, you may notice physical changes that affect your sexuality in positive and negative ways. These may include:
- vaginal changes as oestrogen levels fall, the walls of the vagina become thinner and drier. Loss of lubrication can make having sex uncomfortable
- slowed sexual response it may take longer for you to get aroused and reach orgasm, and orgasm may be less intense
- infections your vagina and bladder may become more susceptible to bacterial infections
- menopause symptoms can include hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia and unusual skin sensations like prickling, itching or ants under the skin
- touch avoidance you may find you dont want to be touched. You may not feel like getting close and intimate because your skin feels more sensitive and you dont like the feeling of your combined body heat;
- physical discomfort of menopause symptoms may reduce your interest in sex or make you tired
- absent periods if you experienced heavy or painful periods you may feel relieved and positive about no longer having periods. This can lead to a renewed interest in sex
- no fear of pregnancy if you were trying to avoid pregnancy during your reproductive years, you may find menopause a time of renewed sexual interest. Without the risk of pregnancy, sex may become more relaxed and fun and you may feel like it more often.
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How Do I Know If Im Menopausal
There are two basic stages of menopause: menopause itself and perimenopause, the period of time right before. The quickness of transition varies person to person, but in perimenopause you can expect symptoms like:
- Lengthened menstrual cycles. The length of your cycle is the number of days between periods, starting with the first day of your period and ending the day before the next one begins. The average cycle length is usually between 24 and 38 days, but this can lengthen during adolescence, while breastfeeding, and during perimenopause. You may also experience heavy bleeding or irregular cycles.
- Hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep disruptions. Changes in hormonal levels can cause discomfort that makes it harder to sleep.
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After perimenopause, youll move into menopause. The medical definition is marked by 12 consecutive months without a period, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of menopause are quite similar to the preceding phase, and it can affect your sex life.
Can I Use Coconut Oil As A Lubricant
Coconut oil has many uses, both in food and in personal care. One of them is that it’s a great moisturizer. Solid at room temperature, it melts into a liquid when applied to the skin and gives skin a soft feel and a pleasant scent. People also use coconut oil on their hair and their tattoos.
But is coconut oil a good sexual lubricant? The answer is a solid “it depends.” Coconut oil should not be used as a lubricant if you are using latex condoms or other barriers. As an oil, there is a risk that it will erode the condom and increase the likelihood of breakage.
Despite reports in the popular press about the use of coconut oil for vaginal lubrication, there is remarkably little medical literature on the subject. There is some evidence that coconut oil is frequently used as a sexual lubricant in some parts of the world.
One 2020 study suggests it may help address vaginal dryness. There is some evidence that it is safe for vaginal flora .
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Midlife Can Bring New Challenges For Sex But It Can Also Change Things For The Better
When Kathy Phillips approached menopause, she thought back to her mother’s experience with the transition. In Phillips’ memories, when her mother went through menopause, she began dressing old and actually became old.
Phillips, 57, worried that she’d follow in her mother’s footsteps, but that wasn’t her experience. “It’s not that way at all. You can still be extremely sexy and past menopause,” Phillips said.
In fact, her transition into midlife brought greater confidence and sexual awareness. As Phillips disovered, menopause can bring new challenges, but that doesn’t mean she has to say goodbye to a good and satisfying sex life.
“You can absolutely have a kicking sex life well into your 80s and 90s,” said Heather Bartos, an OB-GYN and a member of HealthyWomen’s Women’s Health Advisory Council. “There’s this myth that later in middle age we’re not having relationships anymore, we’re not worried about orgasm, or sexual health in general,” Bartos said.
But that’s far from true.
Why Men Should Be Involved
Sexual symptoms are typically a problem for women because they cause a mismatch between her partners sexual needs and her own. For example, a woman who takes longer to orgasm after menopause may only be bothered if her partner experiences quicker orgasms as he ages. Menopausal sexual problems are a joint problem, most effectively treated by involving both partners. It helps when the male partners of menopausal women are educated about why the sexual symptoms of menopause arise and what might exacerbate them. Educated partners are in a better position to help menopausal women treat the symptoms and have a great sex life after menopause.
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You Know What You Want
Think Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. Older babes know what they want in the bedroom and dont have to be shy about it. Menopause is a very defining time for most women, many of whom realize that they have put their sexuality on the back burner for way too long, and if they dont use it, they will lose it for good, says Dr. Richards. Theres some data to suggest that women become less inhibited as they age, so its often a time of relaxation and being comfortable with who you are, and that often improves sexual functioning and sexual performance, says Dr. Wierman.
Find A Lubricant You Love
Vaginal dryness is totally treatable, says , MD, clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine. One option is an over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer designed to be used regularly, say two to three times a week, rather than just before sex. Take a walk down through your local drugstore, and you’ll see many different brands.
Then when you’re ready to hit the bedroom, apply a water- or silicone-based lubricant intended to be used in the moment, so you get even more of an assist. If you’ve never checked out lubricants before, you’ll be amazed at all the varieties, including natural, additive-free versions and some that come in single-use packets for a quickie on the go.
Womens Wellness: Painful Sex After Menopause
DEAR MAYO CLINIC:;I am in my late 50s and have recently found that sex is becoming quite uncomfortable. I am assuming this is because Im past menopause, but whats the best way to make sex less painful?
ANSWER:Dyspareunia, the term for painful vaginal sex, is quite common. Estimates vary, but surveys of postmenopausal women not on hormone therapy report dyspareunia in as many as 20 to 30 percent. Its often divided into three categories: superficial pain, deep pain or both. Most women complain of superficial pain, which occurs upon vaginal penetration. Often, the pain has a sharp or burning quality. Deep pain occurs with deep penetration or thrusting. For some women, dyspareunia is temporary. For others, it can become chronic.
After menopause, painful intercourse often is associated with changes due to decreased estrogen levels. The vaginal tissues tend to become less elastic, more fragile, and more susceptible to bleeding, tearing or pain during sexual activity or during a pelvic exam. It can make sex painful or even impossible. The loss of estrogen can cause urinary problems, which also can make sex uncomfortable. Lack of sexual activity contributes to loss of tissue health and elasticity.
There also are a number of other treatment options. Vaginal lubricants help decrease pain during sex and can be applied as often as needed. Keep in mind that oil-based lubricants may degrade condoms. Vaginal moisturizers used every two to three days can help maintain vaginal moisture.
Why A Womans Sex Life Declines After Menopause
A revealing new analysis gives voice to the many reasons a womans sex life often falters with age.
For many women, sex after menopause is not as satisfying as it used to be. But is menopause entirely to blame?
New research suggests that the hormonal changes that come with menopause are only part of the reason a womans sex life declines with age. Its true that many women experience symptoms after menopause, including vaginal dryness, painful intercourse and loss of desire all of which can affect the frequency and pleasure of sex.
But the new study shows that the reasons many women stop wanting sex, enjoying sex and having sex are far more complex. While women traditionally have been blamed when sex wanes in a relationship, the research shows that, often, its the health of a womans partner that determines whether she remains sexually active and satisfied with her sex life.
We know that menopause seems to have a bad effect on libido, vaginal dryness and sexual pain, said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Womens Health in Rochester, Minn. But what is coming up as a consistent finding is that the partner has such a prominent role. Its not just the availability of the partner its the physical health of the partner as well.
The main reason was losing a partner to death or divorce, which was cited by 37 percent of the women.
Others cited mental health and addiction issues as the reason for lack of sex.
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