Menopause takes its toll on romance, that's for sure. Between hot flashes, irritability and lack of desire, it can be hard to "get in the mood" for romance, even on Valentines Day. But failing to acknowledge your partner's love in a tangible way, ignoring his desire and putting love-making out of your mind can have serious consequences to your relationship, and not just in the bedroom. I know.
Some research shows a rate of 40% to 80% of sexual dysfunction in menopausal or post-menopausal women.
We all sometimes wonder, what's "normal" sexual function and desire for a woman our age? Are we abnormal? Is our libido just misplaced, or has it been lost forever?
Experts in female sexual functions are asking those same questions. First off, they say that many women who are in low-sex or no-sex relationships are just fine with that. That's all well and good if you partner is fine with it too. But if he isn't, you've got a problem.
Libido isn't just one thing. It's a combination of many things, some physical, some emotional. Intimacy is also a combination; it isn't just about sex (at least for most women), it's about feeling close, a strong emotional bond, plus a physical closeness, and wanting to be with someone in more than one way.
In common terms, it means understanding what turns you on. You may think you know, but now is the time to really examine that. What are your emotional and physical "triggers" that lead you into a daydream about sex, or that get you thinking about your partner in a physical way? Like to watch him do the dishes? Tell him. Like to talk softly on the couch while sipping a glass of wine? Make it happen. Like to dance? Arrange it. Whatever little moments that you remember from the past that make you think of him in that special way, tell him, and chances are both of you will work toward making those moments happen again. He's not a mind-reader. And some men are clueless about their partners' needs, not because they don't care, but because we haven't told them (and they usually get pretty wrapped up in their own pleasure).
A menopausal women's decrease in circulating estrogen often has a profound effect on her desire. When you were younger, nature planned it so that you would be most interested in sex around the time of ovulation each month, when conception was most likely. That had to do with estrogen in your system. Hormones also made your vaginal lining respond to the beginnings of sexual activity by making it moist and slippery. The lack of those hormones can lead to dryness and pain during intercourse. No matter how much you love your partner, if you experience pain during intercourse, you're going to avoid it.
There are treatments for this dryness-estrogen creams and low--dose estrogen rings placed in the vagina--but they don't release estrogen into your system, meaning they don't help increase your desire.
Only you can do that. You have to really engage your senses, and be comfortable that you are a desirable human being. Current research shows that a woman's image of her own body has a lot to do with her desire for sex. Got a bit of a tummy? You may feel like you're not sexy. Let your partner decide if you're sexy. Nope, you don't have the body you had at 25. Guess what, neither does he. Chances are, he finds you quite desirable.
To get ready for a romantic Valentines Day, remember these tips:
--Engage your senses. Wear silky underwear. Get a soft and sensual blanket and don't be afraid to let it touch parts of you that deserve touching. Put on music that puts you in the mood and light candles. Move your body slowly, rhythmically, like you used to when you were 20. Walk slowly, be mindful of your body's movement.
--Tell your partner what you want. It's ok to be a little shy--whispering can get your message across in more than one way.
--Lubricate! If you don't have an estrogen cream or vaginal ring, or even if you do, go to the pharmacy and buy yourself some Astroglide or something similar, and use it liberally, on you and your partner. Giggle about it, if it makes you a little self-conscious. He may think that's cute.
--Don't rush. We are so used to rushing the kids to school, rushing to work, rushing here and rushing there, that sex can seem like an imposition. Plan an evening with nothing on the agenda but romance. If you can get things started before he walks in the door, even better. Turn down the lights and light some candles. That sends the message loud and clear.
Published On: February 11, 2010