Sex After Menopause: Things They Never Told You

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As a young woman, you may remember your mom fanning herself to cope with random hot flashes. Perhaps she complained about the lack of sleep she experienced the night prior, changed her pajamas as a result of night sweats, or was moody at times. She most likely was going through menopause, a transformative time in a woman’s life and something every female will experience (typically between the ages of 45 and 55). The symptoms of menopause are caused by a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone.

An important sign of menopause that is often overlooked, or not prioritized, is a decrease in sexual desire or intimacy. While vaginal dryness and painful intercourse due to changing hormone levels is possible, fear not; there’s a light at the end of the (sexual) tunnel. Sex can be just as good (if not better) after menopause with a few simple tweaks. (insert praising hands emoji here)

Prioritize your mind-body connection

It is common for women to feel anxious or stressed during the transitional phase of menopause. Stress can affect sexual intercourse and desire as well. You are not alone. There are resources available to ensure that you feel like yourself again. Gaining self-confidence can be instrumental for your sexual health, so buy that cute sweater, indulge in the manicure, or spend the day reading a book that lifts you up. Obtaining a mind-body connection through your favorite workout regimen (yoga, running, strength training, boxing, barre, etc.) can help relieve the mental symptoms that hinder intimacy with your partner. Grab lunch with your best friend. Having a good laugh and a real conversation with your closest gal pal will not only decrease your stress level but may even make you realize you’re both having similar experiences. Listening to calm music and meditating daily are other great ways to relieve stress.

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You can revive your sex drive

If your sexual desire isn’t as apparent as it once was, your doctor can help determine the underlying cause of a change in libido. He or she may recommend a sex therapist who can provide tips to spice it up in the bedroom such as increased foreplay, changing sexual routines, or incorporating lubricants or toys, for example.

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FYI, becoming pregnant may not be out of the question

When you’re perimenopausal, or transitioning towards menopause, you could go two months without a period and then it may make an appearance again. Menopause is defined by not having a period for 12 months straight, so the breakthrough bleeding or periods in between means that pregnancy can result from unprotected sex, although it is unlikely.

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Vaginal atrophy is common but can be fixed

During post-menopause, it is not uncommon to experience vaginal atrophy due to decreased estrogen levels, which can cause itching, decreased secretions during sexual activity, and pain during intercourse. There is no need to suffer in silence. Options are available. The MonaLisa Touch (MLT), for example, is a fractional C02 laser that can be used to treat vaginal atrophy, pain with sexual intercourse, and lichen sclerosus. The MLT delivers laser energy to tissue which is followed by the body’s natural healing response. It’s non-hormonal and chemical-free.

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There are many approaches to improving your sexual health after menopause. If you have any concerns or are not content with it, be sure to talk to your gynecologist. 

— Kristin Yates, D.O.

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