Menopause is when your period stops permanently and your estrogen and progesterone levels go down. You are officially in menopause when you haven’t had your period for one year. The time leading up to the last menstrual cycle that we typically think of having hot flashes and other side effects is actually called perimenopause or the menopausal transition. This transition into menopause can happen anywhere from four to seven years before your last period, and after you’re in menopause, many symptoms can last for up to 14 years! Yowza! Menopause is an experience that all menstruating people will have, and it takes up a good portion of your life.
Why does menopause affect sex drive?
Because of the changing hormone levels during menopause, your sexual desire and physical sexual experiences might change. Along with the more well-known symptoms of menopause such as mood swings, hot flashes, headaches, and forgetfulness, vaginal dryness can also lead to discomfort during penetrative sex. These hormonal changes, as well as the physical changes happening to the body, can lead to an overall decreased interest in penetrative sex. If you are still wanting to feel physically close and intimate with your partner, there are ways to do that even in menopause.
How else can you enjoy sex?
Open your mind as to what a physical, intimate experience with your partner (or yourself) can be. Penetrative sex is not the only option for pleasure. If penetrative sex no longer feels good due to lack of lubrication, try some other stuff. You can incorporate sex toys like a vibrator that stimulates the clitoris or the nipples or explore other erogenous zones such as the ears, the nipples, or behind the knees. You could read a sexy story together or give each other a sensual massage. Penetrative sex is not the only option, and exploring new ways of touching and pleasuring each other is an erotic experience that could bring you and your partner closer.
Lubricants are great for menopausal sex
If you are wanting to experience penetrative sex, however, you can use lubricants right before inserting anything into the vagina or talk to your doctor about prescribed estrogen that will increase your vaginal lubrication over a period of several weeks. Lubricants can be found at any drug store and can be used at the moment of penetrative sex. Water-based lubricant is always best, as it is compatible with sex toys and condoms. If you’re wanting prescribed estrogen, visit your doctor and chat about it.
This can make penetrative sex more enjoyable. You might notice after menopause though, that your body responds to touch a little differently. This is totally normal. Take your time, communicate with your partner, and don’t be afraid to use toys or other sexy items like erotica to turn yourself and your partner on.
Some people have an increased sex drive after menopause once the risk of unwanted pregnancy is gone. Not everyone experiences a decrease in their interest in sexual activity. If you do though, talk to your doctor, talk to your partner, and get creative. Your body has changed during this time, so it’s natural if your sexual desires and activities change with it.