With menopausal hormonal fluctuations wreaking havoc in women's bodies, many of them wonder if these natural shifts will take a toll on their sexuality as well.
Although intimacy might be a gloomy prospect for many middle-aged women, some are actually looking forward to enjoying sex after menopause with excitement and feelings of liberation.
Continue reading to discover the intimate ups and downs of menopause sex so that you can treat these midlife changes as an opportunity to re-discover and reconnect with your sexuality in the golden years.
How is Menopause Sex Different?
As women approach the end of their reproductive years, their hormonal production declines in an erratic fashion, bringing about pesky physical and psychological symptoms, which might have a direct or indirect effect on their intimacy.
Vaginal dryness is one of the most frequent complaints among menopausal women. Because of a drop in estrogen levels, the tissues lining the vagina become thinner and less elastic, a condition called vaginal atrophy. Natural vaginal secretions also decrease, leaving a woman's intimate parts dry and more prone to irritations and infections. This, in turn, can lead to uncomfortable or painful intercourse after menopause.
Loss of Libido
Up to 40% of women going through the menopausal transition report a decreased desire to be physically intimate with their partners. Also triggered by shifting reproductive hormones, loss of libido often creates tension between the partners and feelings of guilt and low self-esteem in women. Those who also struggle with depression might experience loss of interest in menopause sex even more pronouncedly.
As a result of vaginal dryness and loss of libido, couples often have less sex after menopause to avoid the discomforts. However, prolonged abstinence from sexual activities might make the tissues of the vagina even less stretchy and tighter. Also, lack of stimulation reduces blood flow to the genitals as well as overall lubrication, significantly increasing pain or burning during each sexual intercourse.
Another common grievance among middle-aged women is that having intercourse during menopause is not as rewarding as it used to be. Women might observe that it is more challenging to become aroused, stay sexually stimulated, and climax. When combined with a decrease in sexual desire, it can prompt women to stop having sex after menopause altogether.
Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing on its own. But when accidental leakages happen during intercourse, it might make menopause sex utterly unappealing. This condition is caused by hormonal drops, which affect pelvic floor muscles and bladder control. Interestingly, poor pelvic floor muscles can also reduce a woman's pleasure during menopause sex.
Additionally, struggling with other common menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, or fatigue, can leave women exhausted and sleep-deprived, further discouraging them from potential sexual activities.
What’s Better about Sex after Menopause?
While some menopausal women struggle to keep their sexual life active, others enjoy a revival of their intimacy, claiming that sex after menopause is much better than during their prime reproductive years. Here are some of the alleged benefits:
No More Monthly Periods
During perimenopause, the years preceding menopause, a woman's monthly menses becomes irregular as the ovaries continue to release eggs until their depletion. These menstrual irregularities often fill women with uncertainty as to when bleeding will occur in a given month, frequently putting strain on intimacy. Once periods cease, a woman can give in to enjoying worry-free menopause sex any time she fancies it.
No Risk of Pregnancy
As a woman transitions into menopause and experiences irregular periods, she might still potentially get pregnant. However, once she misses her period for twelve months in a row, her reproductive abilities are officially declared over. Many women find it liberating to enjoy postmenopause sex and their partners more freely without having to worry about unplanned pregnancies.
Greater Life Stability
Although each woman's life circumstances might differ, those in their 50s and up generally enjoy more stable living. Major life stressors, such as securing a career, raising children, and reaching financial stability, are not as intense as they were in earlier years. The less stress and instability make it into the bedroom, the more space there will be for passion and sexual enjoyment.
More Time for Oneself
Having more stability in life also translates to being able to dedicate time for oneself, often for the first time in many years, especially for those women who had children. More time on one's hands also means more time for creative exploration and playful sex after menopause.
Tips for Sex during Menopause
Whether a woman wishes to restart intimacy with her partner or she is on the lookout for ways to make it even better, following these tips can help her enjoy menopause sex more profoundly and become more in tune with her body as she enters a new chapter of her twilight years:
Having sex after menopause starts with an open communication between partners. Learning how to talk about each other's feelings without pressure and judgment can help a couple fulfill each other's intimate needs with more ease. It can also bring the spouses closer as they learn to be more accepting of the natural changes they are going through.
Tightening Things Up
Practicing pelvic floor muscles exercises, such as Kegels, can be of tremendous help in improving menopause sex. Strengthening the vaginal walls can improve bladder control to avoid accidental leakages as well as increase sensitivity to make intercourse less painful and more pleasurable.
Having More Sex
It might seem counterintuitive for women to have more sex when intimacy gives them pain or discomfort, but there are great benefits in heating things up more frequently. Having more sex after menopause naturally stretches vaginal walls, tones its muscles, and increases blood flow to the area, all of which can help women have better sex.
Dedicating more time to foreplay can significantly improve a woman's arousal and vaginal lubrication before having sex. Even if full penetration is not within plans, a couple can benefit from clitoral stimulation, mutual masturbation, or watching erotic movies together. Non-coital intimacy, such as hugging and kissing, is also key to good menopause sex.
Keeping it Well Lubricated
To stop vaginal dryness from ruining a woman's sexual endeavors, the use of vaginal lubricants is highly recommended. Oil- or water-based lubricating products are easy to use and can go a long way in reducing friction and easing painful sex during menopause.
Spicing Things Up
Entering a new chapter in their life, middle-aged women often welcome the idea of rekindling bedroom passion. Some great ideas to change up the routine and bring in variety include sex toys, such as vibrators and dildos. Telling one another about sexual fantasies and trying to fulfill them can also be a great way to keep sex after menopause creative.
Because of numerous symptoms occurring in various stages of the menopausal transition, middle-aged women are often reluctant to have sex. More frequent complaints discouraging them from keeping their sex life active include vaginal dryness, loss of libido, and painful sex, among others. However, many women welcome this natural life phase more optimistically and view it as a time for potential revival of their intimacy. No longer having periods, not worrying about unplanned pregnancy, or having more life stability enables them to enjoy menopause sex more freely and profoundly. By keeping an open conversation with their partners and spicing things up in the bedroom with aforementioned tips, menopausal women can rekindle their love life for years to come.
- Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Menopause and sexual issues. Retrieved December 5, 2017 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/menopause-and-sexual-issues
- National Institute on Aging. (2017). Sex and Menopause: Treatment for Symptoms. Retrieved December 5, 2017 https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/sex-and-menopause-treatment-symptoms
- National Women's Health Network. (n.d.). Strategies for Staying Sexual After Menopause. Retrieved December 5, 2017 from https://www.nwhn.org/strategies-for-staying-sexual-after-menopause/
- The North American Menopause Society. (n.d.). Sexual Health & Menopause FAQs. Retrieved December 5, 2017 from http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/frequently-asked-questions
- Office on Women's Health. (2018). Menopause and sexuality. Retrieved December 5, 2017 from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-and-sexuality