Behind closed doors: How to still have sex through menopause

Behind-closed-doors-How-to-still-have-sex-through-menopause

Are you wondering where your sex drive has gone?

Has your libido left the building?

According to a study by the Journal of Women’s Health, this is completely normal during menopause. Especially if you struggle with body image, vaginal dryness, fatigue and night sweats. It’s not surprising that the thought of sexual discomfort doesn’t appeal.

In other cases, you notice orgasm is more difficult to achieve. And if your partner takes this personally it can douse the sexual flames.

All in all, it can be a complicated journey.

But take heart, there are ways you can enjoy sex during all of the stages of menopause.

Menopause & Sex

There are several reasons libido can be impacted during perimenopause and post-menopause including:

Physical changes

  • Hormones – depleted estrogen/progesterone/testosterone and too much cortisol
  • Fatigue
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Depression
  • Hot flushes/night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness

Psychosocial issues

  • Financial stressors
  • Work pressure
  • Family issues – elderly parents/needy teens
  • Body image

Relationship & situational issues

  • Health – your partner may have health issues
  • Male sexual dysfunction
  • Does your partner still turn you on?
  • If you’ve just had a fight it’s unlikely you’ll be in the mood

Men & Sex

Behind-closed-doors-how-to-still-have-sex-through-menopause
Photo: Renate Vanaga @unsplash

It’s long been recognised that for men, sex is an important physical release. By the same token, sex is more closely aligned with feeling valued for women.

Interestingly, during her research on shame and vulnerability, Brene Brown identified that sex is about more than intercourse for males too. In her book – Daring Greatly – she shared her findings that men link sexual rejection with masculine shame.

Women & Sex

We hear from women struggling with a lack of sexual desire almost daily.

It’s a common issue.

In fact, The Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviours (GSSAB), which included 13,882 females aged 40 to 80 years, reported 26% to 48% of women had a lack of interest in sex. Moreover, 18% to 41% had difficulty reaching orgasm.

While some women happily say ‘sayonara’ to their sex lives if you’re not one of those it can be troubling. The paradox is that for some people menopause actually increases sex drive.

Furthermore, for both males and females sexual desire is individual. Just like the menopause journey, there is no one size fits all.

Relationships & Sex

Behind-closed-doors-how-to-still-have-sex-through-menopause

When it comes to relationships, it’s important to understand the difference between spontaneous and responsive sexual desire.

Spontaneous sexual desire is when you’re mentally aroused first. This is often illustrated in movies when a couple will see each other and BAM! They simply have to make love there and then. On the other hand, responsive sexual desire builds i.e. you begin lovemaking and become aroused during foreplay.

But a good relationship is not just about sexual intercourse. Relationships should also include plenty of physical touch, communication and intimacy.

In fact, acts such as hugging and kissing release the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin. Oxytocin is known to reduce cortisol and anxiety as well as build love and trust. It may also lead to responsive sexual desire.

14 tips to improve sex drive

  1. Ensure you spend time together and say “I love you” often.
  2. Prioritise intimacy over sex itself. Snuggle, exercise, cook, dance, massage each other or take a bath together.
  3. Amp up the foreplay and make a point of lengthening it out.
  4. Put your adventurous hat on and try role-playing or incorporating sex toys.
  5. The more you can reduce your stress levels (cortisol) the more likelywoman-spending-time-at-home-online-training-in-living-room-exercising you are to experience sexual desire. Mindfulness is known to help.
  6. Keep your blood sugar in check – high blood sugar and diabetes can impact sex drive.
  7. Check your medications – some forms are known to decrease libido.
  8. Exercise – studies show it can affect positive self-image.
  9. Practise yoga. A 2009 study in The Journal Of Sexual Medicine showed that yoga improves sexual desire and orgasms aka yogasms.
  10. Strengthening and toning your pelvic floor muscles has been found to increase blood flow to the vagina and intensity of orgasms. What’s more, the neurochemicals released during orgasm can help you sleep better.
  11. Try taking sea buckthorn oil which contains omega 3,6, 7 and 9. Sea buckthorn is also antioxidant-rich and has been found to have a beneficial effect on vaginal health and lubrication.
  12. Lubricate, lubricate, lubricate – a lubricant free of perfumes and chemicals can oil the squeaky wheels (so to speak)!
  13. You could use kitchen pantry staples like ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil (fractionated is less oily). Alternatively, purchase a lubricant in a tube such a Sylk or Bonk Lube.
  14. Take 40+ or 55+ daily. The EstroG-100™ in the formulations has been clinically proven to help with mood shifts and vaginal dryness.
 

NB: If sexual intercourse is very painful for you this is known as dyspareunia. It’s a good idea to see a medical professional.

Diagram showing improvement of menopause symptoms

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.