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Revitalize Your Intimacy: Sex and Menopause

Life is a journey filled with countless transitions, each presenting its unique set of challenges and triumphs. Among the most significant changes that women encounter as they age is menopause – a natural biological process marking the end of their reproductive years. While it’s a milestone worthy of celebration, menopause can also bring forth a host of physical and emotional adjustments, leading to a wide range of experiences unique to each woman.

The Cause, Effect & How to Take Charge of ‘The Change’

Menopause is a natural part of life that marks the end of one chapter in a woman’s life, and another begins, but that doesn’t mean a woman has to give up everything she is, especially not her sex life.

Between the ages of 45 and 55, women begin to experience menopause, which is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation. During menopause, the ovaries gradually stop producing eggs, and the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone decreases. This hormonal shift can cause various physical and emotional symptoms, such as lower desire for sex, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and even vaginal dryness.

The loss of estrogen and lower testosterone levels leads to changes in a woman’s body which directly affects her sexual drive and sexual interest. Menopausal and postmenopausal women may notice that they’re not as easily aroused, and oftentimes, this ‘change’ can lead to less interest in sex or overall sexual desire.

One of the symptoms of low estrogen levels is that it can lead to a drop in blood flow to the vagina and changes in vaginal lubrication (commonly known as ‘dryness’). Both of these things are essential in the enjoyment of sexual intercourse and for women’s health as a whole and without them, a woman can feel more pain during sex. These changes in hormonal activity CAN be treated, though!

Menopause is, of course, inevitable, but its symptoms do not have to impact your lifestyle and life!

Menopause Symptoms

Menopause can cause numerous symptoms that are often wrongfully diagnosed (read more below), and because of the stigma attached to aging and women’s sexual health – postmenopausal women often neglect their own enjoyment and pleasure in the process of trying to regain stability during this time in their lives.

The most common menopause symptoms in women include:

  • Hot flashes: A sudden feeling of intense heat, often accompanied by flushing and sweating.
  • Night sweats: Excessive sweating during sleep, leading to damp sheets and disrupted sleep
  • Irregular periods: Menstrual cycles become irregular, with changes in frequency, duration, and flow.
  • Fatigue: Feelings of tiredness and lack of energy, which can be attributed to hormonal changes and sleep disturbances, which then leave a woman with very little desire for sex.
  • Sleep disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing poor sleep quality.
  • Vaginal dryness: Thinning and drying of vaginal tissues, leading to discomfort or pain during intercourse. A woman can compensate with vaginal lubricants and other treatments.
  • Mood swings: Fluctuations in mood, including irritability, anxiety, depression, and increased emotional sensitivity. According to the North American Menopause Society, women with a history of clinical depression, postpartum depression, or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) appear to be especially susceptible to recurrent depression during perimenopause, as do women who report high levels of stress, sexual dysfunction, hot flashes or, physical inactivity.
  • Weight gain: Many women experience weight gain, particularly around the waist, during menopause.
  • Weak or complete loss of libido: Some women may experience a decrease in sexual desire or changes in sexual function.
  • Memory problems: Difficulty with concentration, forgetfulness, and overall cognitive changes.

It’s important to note that every woman may experience menopause differently, and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary. All of these symptoms can be treated and managed, so consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on menopause symptoms and maintaining an active sex life.

Symptoms of Menopause that Most Affect a Woman's Sex Life

The loss of libido and lack of sexual satisfaction in menopausal women can be due to these specific symptoms and additional factors:

  • A lack of sleep leads to a lack of desire and less sexual activity.
  • General anxiety that comes with aging or medications for other medical conditions that might affect sex drive.
  • The stress of dealing with menopause, on top of the symptoms.
  • The weight gain + change in food cravings can cause insecurities in front of their sexual partners and lead to more changes in hormone levels.
  • Loss of vaginal lubrication is one of the most impactful for sex during menopause.
  • Problems with urinary incontinence (bladder control) are also common and can complicate everyday life.
  • and more…

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Other Treatments for Menopause

There are several treatment options available for managing menopause symptoms, and one of the most common approaches is hormone therapy. This treatment involves taking hormones like estrogen and progesterone to replenish the declining hormone levels in the body during menopause. Hormone therapy can help alleviate symptoms like hot flashes, night patches, topical estrogen creams, or vaginal rings. Correcting some of the hormonal imbalances can be crucial to a woman’s sexual health, but also their mental health, as they regain control over their life.

Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques can also be effective in reducing menopause symptoms. Additionally, over-the-counter vaginal lubricants and moisturizers can alleviate vaginal dryness and discomfort.

It’s also worth noting that sex isn’t just penetrative sex. Oral sex, genital stimulation, and sex toys can all be great things to incorporate into sex after menopause. Choosing to partake in sexual activities (with or without sex partners) regularly can increase blood flow to the vagina which then keeps the vaginal tissue healthy. This will help in maintaining vaginal elasticity and lubrication making sex comfortable and enjoyable.

Pelvic floor physical therapy can also help with menopausal symptoms such as painful intercourse and urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises can help aid in promoting good sexual function and pelvic floor health; both of which are very important for women going through menopause and beyond.

If you are experiencing any symptoms and fit within the pre or post-menopausal frame – schedule an appointment with a physician who understands hormone replacement, and who can help you find safe, alternative AND medically-proven options to help you regain your quality of life and achieve satisfying, guilt-free and fulfilling sexual life.

To learn more about menopause and sex, please see Our Services or call us at (916) 245-3043 to schedule an appointment!