As a woman of menopausal age, you understand your body and likely know what you enjoy sexually. But menopause could end up changing much of what you thought you knew. So what can you expect from your sex life moving forward? Keep reading to find out.
The Potential Issues
Do you remember going through puberty, and how your body changed and everything felt a little out of sync for a while? Menopause is similar in a lot of ways. The big changes your body goes through can affect multiple things. This includes a possible negative effect on your sexual desire and satisfaction.
When it comes to sex and menopause, these are some of the issues you might experience.
One of the big concerns a lot of menopausal women will express is a fear of losing sexual desire. This can be an issue for some women, but it isn’t true for all women. In fact, some report an increased sexual desire with menopause. But even if you personally experience that dip in libido, you don’t have to just accept it. There are treatment options available.
Menopause results in a change in estrogen levels. Estradiol, the active form of estrogen around premenopause, drops and estrone becomes the primary source of estrogen. Estrone is a less potent form of estrogen, leading to signs and symptoms associated with menopause. This can increase vaginal dryness and make sex less pleasurable for some women. To treat dryness, over-the-counter lubricators or vaginal moisturizers may help make sex an enjoyable experience again.
Pain with Intercourse
According to the North American Menopause Society, between 17 and 45 percent of postmenopausal women report pain with sex. This can be caused by increased dryness or by a thinning of the vaginal tissues. It can also range from slight discomfort to severe pain.
What to Try at Home
The changes your body goes through as a result of menopause don’t have to prevent you from enjoying sex. In many cases, it’s simply a matter of learning your body’s new normal and finding what you enjoy again. Be open with your partner or spouse, and talk about what’s best for your sexual relationship.
A study out of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that hormonal shifts might not play as big a role in sexual desire as once believed. The researchers suggested that for some women, a decrease in libido might have more to do with day-to-day life factors.
If you’re experiencing a slightly reduced desire for sexual activity, it’s possible your libido may just need a jumpstart. Attempt to engage in sexual activity with your partner or on your own through self-stimulation. And pay attention to whether your desire increases once you get started. For some women, the issue is more a lack of spontaneous desire, but you may find your desire increases once contact begins.
When to See a Healthcare Provider
If you find you’ve experienced a noticeable shift in your libido and are no longer interested in sex or if sex has become too painful to enjoy, it’s time to see a healthcare provider. There are plenty of treatment options available to help with the sexual side effects of menopause.
In recent years, several studies have suggested that testosterone may be beneficial in increasing libido after menopause. But, the long-term safety of this treatment is unknown. As a result, the Endocrine Society has warned against prescribing testosterone to otherwise healthy women.
Like all treatment options, it’s best to discuss your personal details with a medical professional you trust. You can then work together to find a solution that’s right for you.
Remember, menopause doesn’t have to mean an end to enjoying sex. Plenty of women continue to have a healthy and active sex life well beyond their menopausal years. Don’t be afraid to speak up and visit your healthcare provider if you’re worried your body may need a little extra help.