Menopause and Sex – HealthyWomen

Emily Jamea, Ph.D.., is a sex therapist, author andpodcast host. You can find her here every month to share her latest thoughts on sex.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “What can I do to make my wife want to have sex more often now that she’s gone through menopause?”

Suffice it to say that menopause can significantly affect a woman’s libido. While I occasionally see women who say they could go without sex for the rest of their lives, most long for the days when they felt more naturally sexually inclined.

The sexual changes that occur as a result of menopause are frustrating for both women and their partners. Most couples see sex as an opportunity to connect not only physically but emotionally as well. It can feel like something important is missing when that element of the relationship disappears.

Although menopause has a profound impact on sexuality, there are strategies to maintain a full and satisfying intimate connection during this stage of life.

Read: 9 ways menopause can increase your sex drive >>

Most people complain of losing sexual desire after perimenopause. While the hormonal changes of menopause can have a direct effect on libido, sexual desire usually decreases as a result of other changes. If you don’t sleep well, if you have constant hot flashes and mood swings, if you gain weight, if sex becomes painful… you won’t want to do it. In other words, sexual desire decreases because menopause can cause chaos in other areas of your life.

These emotional changes can indirectly affect your interest in sex and overall sexual satisfaction. The psychological aspects of the menopause transition can create a complex interplay of emotions, body image concerns, and self-esteem issues, all of which can influence sexual desire.

Then there are changes in the body. During menopause, estrogen levels decrease. Estrogen is essential for vaginal lubrication and elasticity. When estrogen levels decrease, women may notice that they do not lubricate as naturally. Additionally, the vagina may not stretch as easily. Together, this can make sexual intercourse painful. Again: if sex hurts, you don’t want to do it. For most women, desire and arousal are linked. Therefore, estrogen-related decreases in arousal may also affect desire.

Testosterone also decreases as we age, especially after menopause. (Side note: Both men and women need estrogen and testosterone for optimal sexual function). Low testosterone levels can affect our ability to maintain muscle (indicating body image issues) and, you guessed it, affect our libido.

Progesterone It also decreases during menopause. This can affect sleep and mood and cause hot flashes and night sweats.

See: Ways to deal with common menopause symptoms >>

What should you do about these hormonal changes? You may consider hormone therapy. Research shows that hormones offer many protective health (and sexual health) benefits with few side effects.

If you are interested in hormone therapy, talk to your healthcare provider (HCP) and always make sure they are up to date on the latest research.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health at any stage of life, but especially as you age. strength trainingIn particular, it may combat some of the changes in low testosterone levels and protect against loss of bone density. Investigation It also shows that exercise has psychological benefits, including improving mood, body image and libido.

We cannot talk about postmenopausal sexuality without also discussing the importance of psychological and relational interventions. Instead of seeing this chapter of your life as the beginning of the end, see what happens when you consider the many benefits of sex in old age. Older people tend to be less inhibited and self-conscious, which makes sexual exploration more fun and exciting. Couples who learn to adapt to, rather than resist, the changes that come with aging can maintain a sexual connection that stands the test of time.

If you’re really struggling to stay connected to your sexuality after menopause, consider working with a sex therapist. There are many strategies that can help you rediscover your sexuality and maintain a strong intimate connection with your partner.

Read: How male partners and others can support women during menopause >>

Sex after menopause is a topic that deserves open discussion and understanding. While the physical and emotional changes that accompany this stage of life can present challenges, they also offer opportunities for growth, exploration, and new ways to experience intimacy.

By adopting effective communication, seeking support, and adapting to changes with a positive mindset, women and their partners can navigate this phase together, fostering a full and satisfying sex life that continues to evolve and flourish.

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