Maintaining A Healthy Sex Life Past Menopause
There are many ways to treat and control the symptoms that negatively impact sexual health after menopause. To counteract the decline in hormones after menopause, many physicians prescribe hormone therapy. Sometimes small doses of testosterone are also prescribed off-label along with standard hormone therapy to improve libido. Estrogen creams are a solution when vaginal issues are the primary problem. Topical or local hormone treatments do not carry the same risks as systemic hormone delivery. Estrogen cream can treat burning, dryness and urgency as well as irritation with urination. Certain natural supplements may also offer support for maintaining healthy hormone balance during and after menopause.
Lifestyle changes can also help address symptoms.;
- Lose weight: The greater the amount of body fat, the less free-floating testosterone in the body. Losing 10 percent of your body weight can dramatically improve many areas of your life, including your libido.
- Exercise: Several studies have found that blood flow to the genitals increases after just 20 minutes of exercise. This results in greater lubrication and arousal and better orgasms.
- Use a lubricant: Lubrication is an easy and effective way to make sex more enjoyable if dryness is an issue. Don’t assume all lubricant is medical-grade and sticky; most lubricants today are water-based and feel natural.
How Sex Changes After Menopause
Chris Kraft, Ph.D.
With no need to worry about getting your period, becoming pregnant or being walked in on by your kids, your postmenopausal sex life should be stellar, right? It can be good, but dont expect it to be the same type of sex you were having in your 20s, says;Chris Kraft, Ph.D., director of clinical services at the;Sex and Gender Clinic;in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
While you may have greater freedom at home, this is also a stage of life with a lot of changes that can affect your intimacy, he says. Youre redefining your roles and your relationship as the kids go off to college and your careers wind down. And youre also physically changing.
Vaginal Dryness Atrophy Fear Hot Flushes
Biological problems account for the majority of sexual problems in menopausal women. It is important to recognise that these problems hardly ever exist in isolation. Psychological, sociocultural, and/or relationship issues may also contribute to difficulties experienced by women and therefore its important that a thorough assessment is made to address these and other non-physiological factors.
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Let Yourself Experiment Sexually
Lets state the obvious: None of the most common menopause symptoms, from hot flashes to night sweats to fatigue and occasional incontinence, sets you to up to feel desirable. Before these side effects take a toll on your self esteem, talk to your doctor about ways to manage them.
Just come in right away, says Dr. Valle. As time goes on, some problems can get worse and worse.
Realize, too, that you may have to work a little harder than usual to get out of your funk and in the mood. That means more foreplay, watching porn , trying out sex toysor just learning to relax.
Dont think your sex life ends once you go through menopause, assures Valle. I know an 80-year-old woman who still has sex with her partner. Its a different stage of life, but a good sex life is still possible.
Getting Older And The Menopause
A reduced sex drive is not an inevitable part of ageing, but it’s something many men and women experience as they get older.
There can be many reasons for this, including:
- lower levels of sex hormones just before, during and after the;menopause in women
- lower levels of sex hormone in men
- age-related health problems, including mobility problems
- side effects of medicine
Speak to a GP if you’re concerned about this. They may ask about any other symptoms you have, and sometimes they may;arrange for a blood test to check your;hormone levels.
There are treatments to increase hormone levels if low levels are causing problems, such as hormone replacement therapy;;with or without testosterone treatment for women going through the menopause.
Is There Anything You Can Try During Solo Sex
Solo sex isnt just something to do when you dont have a partner. It can be an enjoyable and empowering activity on its own.
If youre not in the habit of masturbating regularly, set aside time for some physical self-exploration to get to know your body a little better. Focus on what feels good, and you might find it becomes easier to orgasm without frustration.
Aiding Arousal And Orgasm
Both arousal and orgasm depend on a complex array of psychological and physical factors. Issues that reduce libido can also affect arousal and orgasm. In addition, when blood flow to the genitals and pelvis is diminished or nerves are damaged, it can be difficult to achieve either. Identifying and addressing lifestyle factors may increase your sexual response. These are the most common physical factors impeding arousal and orgasm:
Alcohol. Although a glass of wine might enhance your libido, heavy drinking can make it difficult to achieve orgasm.
Health conditions. Diseases that affect blood flow and nerve function, including diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, can reduce sexual responsiveness.
Medication. Drugs to lower blood pressure can delay or prevent orgasm. Antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, can also impede orgasm.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that the following may be helpful in stimulating arousal and orgasm:
Zestra. A massage oil that creates a sensation of warmth throughout the genital area, Zestra increased desire, arousal, and satisfaction in 70% of the women enrolled in clinical trials required for FDA approval. It is available over the counter for around $10.
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Whats Going On Down There
All of these changes can affect the way you experience sex, but they can also be addressed with fairly simple solutions.
Changing sexual positions and using over-the-counter lubrication or vaginal moisturizers, for example, may help you maintain sexual enjoyment.
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.
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How S/he Views Her/him
Shy conversations and secret fears may not get talked about. So if there are any other sexual, marital or relationship problems they can get ignored leading to assumptions being made and misunderstandings becoming more common,;which in turn can lead to arguments. Low self-esteem then becomes a problem as neither partner feels supported or able to give voice to their emotions.
Working With Your Partner
Dr. Marjorie Green, clinical instructor in obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School, works with postmenopausal women who have difficulty becoming aroused or experience discomfort during sex. She says communication with one’s partner is the foundation of a healthy sexual relationship, and advises the following:
Be honest. Don’t try to fake it if your libido has dropped. Let your partner know when sex is painful.
Compromise. If one of you wants to have sex more frequently than the other, you should try to find a middle ground.
Experiment: If intercourse is painful, the two of you might try new positions and techniques that may be more comfortable. It may help to remember that vaginal intercourse isn’t the only option. Genital stimulation and oral sex may provide as much satisfaction as you need.
Dr. Green acknowledges that even the most compatible couples have to make adjustments as their relationship matures. “Being in a new relationship can bring a surge of libido, but after a while the shine begins to wear off and you may need to work at it,” she says. To restore the luster, she suggests couples try doing things they used to enjoy together at the beginning of their relationship. Recreating the atmosphere that set the stage for romance years ago can have the same effect today.
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Its Best Not To Ignore Any Changes That Cause You Distress
You may cringe at the thought of talking to your gynecologist about sex. But rest assured, there is no reason to feel awkward. If you’re dealing with these changes and are very much unhappy with them, talk to your doctor. Right now, this may be a conversation that needs to take place via telehealth due to the pandemic. If you feel dismissed, then Dr. Rowen encourages you to consider switching to another provider if at all possible. Go find someone who will listen to you and take your problems seriously, Dr. Rowen says. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan that may help you have a more fulfilling sex life, even after menopause.
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Your Libido Might Dip Thanks To Menopause
Its not universal, but some people with menopause report decreased libido, says Dr. Pizarro. Issue is, it’s tough for doctors to figure out how to combat a lowered sex drivethe cause isnt exactly easy to pinpoint. For decades, weve blamed loss of libido on a womans ovaries or hormones, says Libido is such a complicated thing that goes way beyond issues of the ovaries, uterus, and hormones, says Dr. Pizarro.
Beyond whatever mysterious physiological changes might affect someones libido at this life stage, adjusting to menopause’s physical changes might play a role. Adequate exercise helps make sure your blood is flowing properly, which is an essential part of getting wet during sex.
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How Can Postmenopausal Women Improve Their Sex Life
First, you should accept the fact that it is normal to experience changes in sexual desire after menopause. Though you can continue to enjoy intimacy with your partner in ways, such as cuddling, sharing a bed, going on dates or weekend getaways, the intensity of the orgasms may not be as strong as before. This does not mean that your sex life is over. You and your partner may try techniques like clitoral massage because this may lead to better orgasms. There are other tips that can help menopausal women to take control of their sex life and derive maximum pleasure. Here are some of the effective ones.
Women should treat vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness is a common reason for painful sex after menopause. Here are a few things that women can try to deal with this.
- Bioidentical hormone therapy: Natural hormones made from plant derivatives
Both you and your partner can come together in bed and devise creative ways to experience sexual pleasure.
Women should also practice self-care, which includes
If Youre Trying To O Like Right Now Try This
You really want to orgasm, but, for whatever reason, you just cant seem to get there. This can feel so discouraging that, eventually, you might decide theres no point in trying and give up entirely.
While you can try a few different things to make an orgasm happen, its also important to keep in mind that you can still enjoy yourself, even without an O.
Focusing on the pleasure youre experiencing in the momentwithout fixating on orgasm as a specific goal might just help you get there more quickly.
For more satisfying sex, solo or partnered, try these tips.
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Hormones And Sex Drive
Sexual desire often wanes with age. Around the late 40s and 50s, many women begin to experience a reduced sex drive. While physical symptoms of menopause can undermine sex drive, hormonal changes also play a role. During menopause, the body stops producing estrogen. Testosterone levels also decrease in women around midlife.;
During menopause, the hormones that regulate sex drive, reproduction, mood and more begin to ebb, and these declining levels can negatively impact sexual function and desire. Hormones act as messengers in the body to control a vast array of functions. Three hormones are believed to affect female sexuality to some degree:
- Estrogen: The main female hormone regulates the menstrual cycle, female sex organ development and the lining of the uterus. During perimenopause, estrogen levels begin to drop dramatically. Menopause occurs when estrogen levels are too low for the uterine lining to thicken.
- Testosterone: Women have natural testosterone levels. This hormone is produced by the ovaries to help make estrogen. Testosterone declines naturally with age, especially after menopause. Some studies have suggested higher testosterone levels are associated with greater sexual behavior and desire in women.
- Progesterone: This female hormone supports pregnancy and controls the menstrual cycle along with estrogen. As with estrogen, progesterone levels decline during menopause. It’s believed changing progesterone levels impact female sexual behavior.
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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A Husbands Guide To Having Great Sex After Menopause
There are many ways in which you can contribute to ensuring that you both continue having great sex after menopause. As biological and psychosocial factors indirectly affect a couples sexual relationship,;you should not only think about sexual factors when you consider how to improve sex with your menopausal partner, but must also consider how biological and psychosocial factors influence sexual functioning.
Pregnancy Giving Birth And Breastfeeding
Loss of interest in sex is common during pregnancy, after giving birth and while breastfeeding.
This can be because of:
- changes to your hormone levels
- changes to your body and issues with your body image
- painful sex;caused by;an injury, such as a cut or tear, during childbirth
- changed priorities, such as focusing on looking after your baby
These;issues may improve over time. Speak to a GP if your sex drive does not return and it’s a problem for you.
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Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases Still A Concern
Im No Longer Interested In Sex Is This Normal
A dip in libido is a common complaint made by many women of menopausal age. But this dip doesnt have to be permanent.
Continuing to engage in sexual activity, either with your partner or through self-stimulation, may help you push past this period of decreased desire. Talking to your doctor may also provide further insight into possible solutions.
You can still safely resume sexual activity after a long period of abstinence. However, going long periods of time without having sex after menopause can actually cause your vagina to shorten and narrow.
By abstaining, you may be setting yourself up for more painful encounters in the future.
Depending on how long its been, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about a vaginal dilator. This tool may help stretch your vaginal tissues back to a place that will improve sexual function and enjoyment.
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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.