There are nearly as many warnings about sex after menopause as there are about losing your virginity. Don’t avoid sex just because you think it might be painful or uncomfortable. But learning to understand those changes can help to prevent any discomfort. Plus, not having to worry about pregnancy is a pretty important perk of menopause!
MENOPAUSE AND YOU
Menopause is when your body stops having monthly cycles and becomes unable to get pregnant. According to the National Institute for Aging, the average age at which a woman experiences menopause is 51 , which means there are many years ahead of you that you can fill with satisfying sex! However, some women experience menopause at any earlier age due to genetics, certain cancers or even smoking while other women continue to have their periods into the fifties .
This doesn’t happen all at once. The process involves three phases: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Several years before your last period, your levels of estrogen and progestin will drop, and you may begin to notice symptoms . In the second stage, your periods will stop.
This process comes with a bevy of symptoms ranging from hot and cold flashes, longer or heavier periods, vaginal dryness, bladder infections, difficulty sleeping, and moodiness . Your body can even feel foreign to you as you go through the process of menopause. There are a lot of potential worries.
One concern that many women share is whether their partners will still find them attractive and want to be intimate with them. The answer to both questions is a resounding “YES!”. Single or widowed women sometimes wonder if new partners will desire them despite their changing bodies. Good news is that not only should your partner still want you, the changes you’re experiencing may be things he likes even more!
Remember that attraction to a person isn’t just about what’s on the outside. But if you’re looking for a way to feel more confident, picking out a piece of sexy lingerie might do the trick.
DESIRE FOR SEX AFTER MENOPAUSE
Many women worry whether they’ll feel the same desire to have sex after menopause as they did before. After all, you’re hardly done living! A decrease in desire happens, but that can also happen at many times during your life: when estrogen drops during your monthly cycle, after the honeymoon period ends in your relationship, during and after pregnancy, and in periods of high stress just to name a few.
While both men and women experience a drop in sex drive throughout the course of their lives, women are 2-3 times as likely to experience this decrease in sex drive than men . Of course, some women do feel a boost to their sex drives thanks to the freedom provided by kids leaving home and/or retirement. But dealing with the mood swings and hot or cold flashes that can accompany menopause doesn’t put anyone in the mood!
One of the pieces of advice we give to any woman who is having trouble getting in the mood for sex or even masturbation is to slow things down and to add foreplay. Extended foreplay can solve a problem that we’ll talk about later on: being properly lubricated. There’s really no reason not to add foreplay. It helps you get in the mood, get you wet and, sometimes, get you off even before the big event!
Because of the hormone drops that happen during menopause, foreplay may not be the only solution you need to add to your toolkit, nor will it solve all your potential problems.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ESTROGEN DECREASES
Even if you desire to have sex after menopause, you might run into a little trouble. It might be uncomfortable or hard because your body doesn’t lubricate as much as it did before menopause when your body was producing more estrogen. A drop in estrogen means a decrease in vaginal moisture for many women, and it can even lead to vaginal atrophy.
Women are often taught that being “wet” is the single most important signal of arousal, but that’s not the case. You can be aroused, but your body might not produce noticeable amounts of lubrication. In fact, your body may not produce the exact amount of moisture that you need for comfortable sex, especially long bouts!
This discrepancy becomes difficult to ignore for many women who have experienced menopause. They can’t just add more foreplay to become wet. What can you do if sex after menopause is dry and uncomfortable?
USE LUBE FOR COMFORT
The easiest solution is to use personal lube, which you can buy from sex stores and even your local pharmacy. There are a few options on the shelves and even more available online, so what should you look for?
- Choose a water-based lube if you want something that’s compatible with sex and toys of all types – also, you want lube that washes off easily.
- Go with silicone if you want slicker, longer lasting lube that’s condom-compatible that you can even use for massages.
- Try a natural oil such as coconut oil if you want to limit the ingredients your body comes in contact and don’t want use condoms for protection against STIs (as oil based lube degrades the silicon in condoms). Oils can also be great for anal sex.
A personal lube can also add sensations like cool/tingling or warm, and flavored lubes are great for going down on your partner
Although you might not consider it at first, a drop in estrogen may also coincide with weakened bones and osteoporosis because estrogen is necessary for bone health . This condition is exemplified by brittle bones that easily break – as many as 50% of women over fifty will break a bone due to osteoporosis .
Keep this in mind as you enjoy sex, which you might prefer to be rougher after menopause than before you went through the change. Decreased vaginal sensitivity might have you asking for it “Harder.” Just make sure it’s not too hard.
THINK ABOUT THIS
Osteoporosis may be a concern for menopausal women, so you should be careful when having sex to prevent breakage. Furthermore, weakened bones may contribute to more pain when you stress your joints. Reconsider any position that requires you to rest on your joints, especially for long periods of time. Use a pillow to relieve stress points; sex pillows are great for getting into tricky positions, too.
Furthermore, positions where you’re on top are the best sex positions after menopause because they reduce strain on your body and hips. If you’ve never had a lot of experience riding your man, you might feel self-conscious. You can also focus on activities other than intercourse. Making out, dry humping and oral sex aren’t lesser substitutes for penetration. They’re all enjoyable in their own right, and they fall into the category of activities known as outercourse.
Before you’re ready to throw in the towel on sex, you might want to talk to your doctor. She can prescribe estrogen supplements that help with many of the issues that are caused by the sharp drop in estrogen during menopause or even premenopause. Creams, pills, and patches can all replenish some of the estrogen that your body is missing . You may still benefit from using lube, however. At the Bad Girls Bible, we recommend that everyone use lube regardless of age!
Whether estrogen helps or not, you might find yourself having to become reacquainted with your body, its responsiveness, and your desires. Some women don’t feel as feminine, desirable or even as much like themselves during and after menopause. Remember that your lover may need cues to deal with those changes, so talking about sex is a must.
If you’ve been with your partner for some time, you’re probably pretty good at talking about sex. However, it’s essential to a happy sex life even if it’s difficult. In fact, often sex is such a tricky topic to discuss right because it’s so important!
SEX AFTER MENOPAUSE CAN STILL BE RISKY
The big perk of having sex after menopause is that you don’t need to worry about getting pregnant. There’s still a chance of contracting an STI if you have unsafe sex. STIs such as HPV are so common that most people will have it during their lifetimes, so you can’t let your guard down.
Get tested for STIs after you have new partners. You should also use condoms with any partner who has an STI or whose STI status is unknown to you. Remember that some STIs transmit through skin-to-skin contact, however, and condoms can’t protect you from every potential infection. Still, it’s important
Many women have to get used to sex after menopause. But some women find that this is the best sex of their lives because they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, and they have freedom to explore their sex lives like never before.