Sex After Menopause: What to Expect
According to a new study reported in the peer reviewed journal Menopause (1), sexual encounters after menopause are often unpleasant and uncomfortable for most women. There are a number of reasons that may explain the poor libido and lack of sexual interest in this sub-group of population. Most significant ones are:
- Atrophic vaginitis: Optimal serum levels of estrogen are required for the maintenance and remodeling of normal vaginal epithelium. However, with menopause and the decline in the secretion of estrogen, the vaginal epithelium undergoes atrophic changes (also known as atrophic vaginitis) to produce significant pain and discomfort during the act of intercourse. According to the online survey CLOSER (abbreviation of Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact on Sex and Relationships) that was conducted on over 1,000 sexually active menopausal females, approximately 64% of women reported significant discomfort and pain during intercourse. In addition, about 30% couples reported that painful intercourse due to atrophic vaginitis is the sole reason why they avoid sexual encounters.
- Poor Libido: Estrogen is the key stimulator of libido in females. Low estrogen levels almost always causes libido issues. Based on the findings of the CLOSER survey, more than 64% females report loss of libido (1).
- Vaginal dryness: The lining cells of the vagina secretes a thin mucus like fluid. The vaginal secretions serves as the primary lubricating element to facilitate friction-free and pain-free sexual experience for both female and the male partner. However, with atrophic vaginitis and loss of functional vaginal epithelium, the secretion of lubricating fluid decreases significantly; thereby causing vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Vaginal dryness is the key reason why 58% menopausal females avoid physical intimacy.
Besides these primary reasons, there are several other reasons why sex life is a down-hill course for most menopausal females. Based on latest statistics, some popular causes of menopausal libido loss include; poor image of self, low energy levels, hot flashes, insomnia and resulting fatigue or mood changes and depression.
How to return from the Libido vacation
- Do not give up on sex: Research and clinical data suggests that sexual intercourse or activity facilitates the extra flow of blood to the sexual organs. This helps in rejuvenation and revitalization of sexual organs; which also in turn helps in improving the quality of sexual experiences.
- Use good lubrication: For a healthy and productive sexual life, adequate vaginal lubrication is of utmost importance. Most women take longer to get sexually excited after menopause, which is why it is very important to increase the duration and quality of foreplay.
You can also use high-quality vaginal lubricants to improve the sexual experience. A lot of females are not comfortable using oily sticky lubricants; but fortunately, there are a number of other choices available today (ranging from water-based lubricants to natural emollients and lubricants for a smooth, clean and natural sexual experience).
- Keep communication open and share your concerns with the partner: Menopause affects the sexual as well as physical and emotional aspects of a woman. Your thoughts about your body and self-image may influence the libido and quality of sexual life. Therefore, it is very important to share your concerns with your partner. Get dressed up more frequently and pay attention to your health and grooming. Psychologists explain that post-menopausal women require more intense emotional stimulation in addition to physical intimacy. You can also make an active effort to improve your physical surrounding (such as listen to soft music, buy flowers or indulge yourself in an interesting book).
- Regular exercise and physical activity: Regular exercise or physical activity often help to improve the libido and enhance sexual stamina. It has long been known that physical or mental illness can affect the sex life significantly and therefore, incorporation of regular exercises and healthy sleep habits often improves the sex drive in menopausal females.
- Look for a viable solution: As discussed previously, the primary cause of poor menopausal sexual experiences is atrophic vaginitis or thinning of vagina due to declining estrogen levels. Although, the tips listed above are often helpful in improving the sexual experience; the results are not always as expected. It is therefore recommended to speak to a medical professional regarding suitable pharmacological interventions like example bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
Menopause is different for every woman. For some it may result in a substantial decrease in sexual drive, while for others, it may increase the desire to have sex more often. In any case, prepare yourself for fluctuations in the sex drive.
To learn more about surviving and thriving during menopause, you can download our free ebook: HOT and BOTHERED-The Essential 9-Step Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Menopause.