Have you gone a full year without a period?? Congratulations — you’ve officially reached menopause. It’s understandable it you’re not feeling celebratory yet.
It’s a normal and natural part of a woman’s life, and a period of life that can be just as well lived as earlier stages. Unfortunately having symptoms from hot flashes to sleep problems can feel anything but exciting. Other aspects, though, can feel downright freeing. And your sex life is one arena in which that freedom can shine. I’m not kidding.
But Isn’t My Sex Life Over?
Menopause does not equal an end to your sex life. There is an ageism in our culture with a belief that intimacy, pleasure, and sex are for the young. Noting could he further from the truth.
What actually leads to great sex is being present, focused and an embodied connection, with extraordinary communication, authenticity, transcendence, risk-taking, and surrender.
Many individuals end up finding sex more pleasurable, not less, as they enter the perimenopausal and menopausal stages.
A lot of that has to do with freedom from worries about pregnancy. You might also be reaching the peak of your career as menopause sets in, which can be a big confidence booster. And, for the first time in maybe forever, you finally feel free to be who you truly want to be.
But Why Is Sex Painful in Menopause?
Vaginal dryness is a leading cause of painful penetration leading up to and after menopause. A late menopausal stage and experiencing surgery-induced menopause (such as a hysterectomy) are two of the main links to vaginal dryness.
Estrogen helps keep your vaginal tissues supple and lubricated, which play important roles in arousal and pleasure. Lubrication reduces friction, and a lack is often what causes pain and discomfort.
I want sex but where did my libido go?
As we’ve already discussed, common menopausal symptoms caused by decreasing hormone levels are often to blame for a lower sex drive. Body discomfort or weight gain can take away your desire for sex. Hot flashes and night sweats can make you tired. Mood symptoms, including depression and irritability, can cause relationship turmoil. Each of these symptoms can make sex less enjoyable, leading to lower libido.
If you are troubled by a persistent or recurrent lack of desire, you are likely to have what has been described as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” the most common sexual complaint among women.
In some cases, a woman’s loss of desire is a problem for her primarily because it frustrates her partner and threatens to weaken their relationship. This may be the case if there is a pattern of avoiding or ignoring her partner when he/she is likely to initiate sex, or if even the most romantic and relaxing vacation or weekend away fails to spark any interest in being sexual.
Ways to increase your sex drive:
- Reduce dryness with moisturizers (applied every two days) and lubricants (applied during intercourse)
- Talk with your partner about what you like
- Rest up. A recent study found that women who get enough sleep are much more likely to experience sexual interest or pleasure
- Schedule time for sex. Making a plan for sex gives you time to get in the mood
- Spend more time on foreplay
Keeping Your ‘Sexy Pilot Light’ On
Your biggest sex organ is your mind and there is no limit to the erotic imagination. You have the ability to be actively turning yourself on and off as much as our partners do. You get to simmer so that you aren’t getting yourself turned on for sex, but are living a turned-on life.” So rather than wait for a partner to rev your sexual appetite, consistently fuel your own.
So ….. write out what it is you want at this point. Menopause is a chance to kind of reevaluate the game at halftime and see where you wanna go and score next.