For some women, the end of menopause brings on a new era of sexual enjoyment. Many no longer have children at home, they are financially stable and they have the time to rekindle their romance with their partner (or for those who are divorced or widowed, begin a new relationship.) But for others, some of the symptoms of menopause continue and interfere with their sex lives. They might find that sex has become painful or uncomfortable. Their desire might be lower than before menopause (or perimenopause) began. Women past menopause can, and do, enjoy satisfying sexual lives. The following tips might help you create the sex life you want.
Use lubricants. One of the lasting symptoms of menopause is vaginal dryness. This is caused by lower estrogen levels; it is not a sign of lower arousal. Today there is a variety of different lubricants, some made to enhance your sexual pleasure. Others simply provide lubricant. Look for a water-based lubricant rather than an oil-based to avoid the sticky feeling. Try different lubricants to find what works best for you.
Increase foreplay. You might think you have a low sex drive compared to years past. However, you might just need more arousal. Foreplay can increase your sexual feelings and taking a longer time playing around before can make you feel more aroused.
Use romantic and sexual props. This doesn’t mean you need to buy vibrators or other sexual toys (although there isn’t anything wrong with experimenting with these). Try soft lighting, music, candlelight and other props that increase your romantic feelings, which in turn can increase your arousal. You might also find that sexy underwear to help set the mood.
Remember protection. If you aren’t in a long-term relationship, you are still vulnerable to STDs. Make sure you continue to use protection.
Talk to your partner. It is important to let your partner know how you are feeling. Talking about what is going on can help the two of you work together to find solutions. Open up about what you need right now, what you enjoy and what feels uncomfortable or painful. If you are having a difficult time talking to your partner or if there are relationship issues that are causing problems, consider couples therapy to work through the issues and bring back the closeness you once felt for one another.
Consult with your doctor. There are treatments that can help with vaginal dryness, such as estrogen creams. At this time, there isn’t any medications to increase sexual desire other than testosterone, which is controversial, however, your doctor can determine if there are any underlying physical causes contributing to your loss of sexual desire.
Lower stress levels. The largest sex organ is the brain and stress often slows down your sex life. Practice stress relieving techniques, such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing. You might want to plan evenings with your partner, finding relaxing activities you can enjoy together, to help lower your stress levels.
Treat yourself well. Sometimes, as you age, your self-esteem and body-image take a hit. Treat yourself well, exercise, eat right and take care of yourself. Set aside time each day to do something you enjoy. As you enter menopause your body can change in shape and size, making some women find they are much more self conscious of their body. Taking care of your body helps you remember that you are worthwhile and not only improves how you feel about yourself, it might bring back those sexy feelings.
See your doctor for any physical or mental illnesses. Feeling rundown because of physical illness or depression can make you want to hide away. If you have a healthcondition, make sure you are following treatment. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking and find out if they are contributing to your loss of libido or vaginal dryness. If so, ask about different medications or what you can do to combat these side effects.
Have sex without the sex. Touching, kissing and talking can be very sensual. Some couples find that when they don’t focus so much on orgasm, they enjoy time together. Use this time to talk about your fantasies and let go of the performance pressure.
Many women accept the loss of sexual desire as they go through menopause. They accept that as they age, their sex life will diminish. This doesn’t need to happen. There are ways you can improve your sex life, both by talking with your doctor and your partner. You don’t have to settle for low levels of desire or painful sex just because you have reached the other side of menopause.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.