Bedroom Insider

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Friday, December 27, 2019

Keeping Sex Pleasurable After Menopause

Sexy middle-aged woman in lingerie, lying in bed


Menopause can occur naturally or surgically, that is after an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). Natural menopause occurs most frequently after age 45, but it can happen earlier or later. No matter the cause, menopause manifests in several bodily and mental changes due to a decrease in estrogen. Understanding what's happening with your body helps explain why you feel the way you do and can help you determine how to best claim your sexuality after menopause.

The decrease in estrogen leads to the most obvious symptom of menopause: no more periods. You might also be aware of symptoms such as mood swings or hot flashes that are not uncommon with menopause.  However, there are other less-obvious side effects, and they can seriously affect your sex life.

Vaginal Dryness


Estrogen plays a critical role in the vagina's ability to self-lubricate, so women who are going through menopause may experience vaginal dryness as blood flow to the genital decreases. Dry sex is often painful. There are several options to relieve vaginal dryness, fortunately. They include vaginal moisturizers like Replens, which helps to increase moisture overall and personal lubricant, which you can apply prior and during sexual activities for temporary relief of dryness.

Decreased Libido


Several studies have found that menopausal women experience a drop in desire; although, this isn't always the case. This can happen because hormones drop with menopause. Mood swings, poor sleep, and hot flashes can also make it difficult for menopausal women to get in the mood for sex.

Vaginal Atrophy


While many people focus on the previous two sexual side effects of menopause, vaginal atrophy can also significantly impact your sex life. Decreases in estrogen mean vaginal tissues are less elastic. The result? Painful sex, even if you are in the mood! Vaginal atrophy can increase the likelihood of tears, which can make you more susceptible to infections as well, and bleeding.

Your doctor may prescribe medication such as that can increase the thickness and durability of vaginal tissue. However, this medicine can also increase the likeliness of blood clots and stroke in some women.

Orgasm Difficulty

 

Along with painful sex and decreased libido, some women have more difficulty with orgasm after menopause. Orgasms may be less consistent or less intense. Kegel exercises, which tone pelvic floor muscles, may improve your orgasms. These exercises can also be beneficial for urinary incontinence, which some women experience with menopause.

Dealing with the Sexual Side Effects of Menopause

 

Many times, women will continue having sex even if it's painful or not something they want due to menopause. Or they may retreat within themselves, which can cause strife in their relationships. However, it doesn't have to be this way.
There is no single cure to all of the side effects caused by menopause. However, you can work with your doctor to find what's right for you. Many women undergo hormone therapy after menopause to replenish the hormones their bodies no longer make and relieve symptoms such as vaginal dryness and atrophy. Estrogen comes in a variety of forms from pills to creams to injections. Talk to your doctor to find out more.

Some people may not see improvements when taking estrogen and others may not be appropriate candidates for hormone therapy. There are some steps you can take to remain sexual, including the use of vaginal moisturizers and lube mentioned above.


  •  Masturbate: Many doctors and patients find that remaining sexually active can put off or reduce the side effects of menopause. So keep having sex or masturbating as long as it's possible and pleasurable.
  • Focus on foreplay: At any age, increasing foreplay can help you become more aroused, experience more pleasure, and increase the likelihood of having an orgasm. Manual and oral sex, sensual massage, and other activities are just a few ideas to get you started. Don't forget about written or visual erotica, which can help to get you going.
  • Try outercourse: If penetrative sex is something you can no longer do or cannot do as much as you once did, try outercourse. This includes activities such as dry humping, making out, and mutual masturbation all fall into this category. Expand your idea of what “counts” as sex, and you'll find that your sex life can continue quite happily. These activities can provide a sexual release and keep you connected to your partner.
  • Be mindful: Studies have found that mindfulness can help with sexual dysfunctions such as arousal. Mindfulness can promote relaxation, which is good for sexual enjoyment. Mindfulness can keep you in the moment and focused on the journey (pleasure) versus the destination (orgasm). Activities such as tai chi and yoga also encourage mindfulness and can be helpful during this time.
  • Talk about it: Sexual communication is always important but especially so if you're experiencing changes because of menopause. Your partner may not be aware of some of the lesser-known side effects. Furthermore, don't be afraid to talk about any symptoms you may have with your doctor. It's their job to help you find ways to cope with menopause, even if talking about sex seems embarrassing to you. Trust us, your doctor has seen and heard it all.
  • Switch things up: Breaking out of your sexual routine can give your sex drive a boost and make you feel more connected to your partner. Try something new such as using a sex toy if you never have before. Roleplaying and BDSM can also reignite the spark that may have been extinguished by menopause and other factors.
  • Remember safer sex: Sex after menopause can be great. After all, there's no risk of pregnancy, and the kids are out of the house so you can get down whenever you want. However, the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection still exists. You can reduce those risk by using safer sex devices such as condoms for penetrative sex or oral performed on a man or dental dams for oral sex performed on a woman.

Not everyone experiences menopause the same, and your symptoms can vary in intensity as you go through menopause. However, knowing what can happen and how to work around it can ensure that menopause doesn't interfere with your sex life and prevent you from being as sexual as you want. 

By: Adriana Ravenlust
Follow on Twitter @adriana_r

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