“I thought having reached this point in my life — empty nest, career success or retirement — my partner and I could enjoy intimacy in a new, more leisurely way. But my body has betrayed me!”
This is the story of most women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause. Menopause is a big deal! It’s not a disease but a physiological change and definitely, a game changer. When physiology changes, you don’t feel the same anymore.
As menopause approaches, there is decline in female hormones i.e. estrogen and progesterone, which produce both physical and emotional changes and can directly affect the sex life . The most common problems which we address are about pain during sex, loss of libido, and inability to achieve orgasm even if you are with the man of your dreams.
All these problems happen due to decreasing blood supply to the vulva and vagina which causes thinning of vaginal lining and decreased lubrication.The vulval and vaginal tissue lose their elasticity and vaginal length becomes shorter. All these factors cause pain, soreness, itching and burning.
Fluctuating hormones affect emotional wellbeing and cause complete emotional turmoil, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and the way women perceive life. Tiredness, anxiety, irritability, difficulty with concentration and depression are particularly common.
But don’t be disheartened. Just because you have entered into menopause doesn’t mean that you can’t have great sex and great orgasms.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn all about the new menopausal body and how to gracefully live with it. Here are some tips:
- Be physically active as it boosts your energy levels, lifts up your mood and improves body image
- Smoke less as nicotine can further reduce the blood supply to vagina
- Have sex more often as it improves lubrication by increasing the blood supply to vaginal tissues during an orgasm
- Allow time to get aroused during orgasm. Practice pelvic floor exercises.
If you are feeling mild vaginal dryness, then use water based lubricants during intercourse. But if these lubricants aren’t helping then talk to your doctor and they might prescribe you with oestrogen creams/tablets/rings for local application after evaluating your history.
The most important secret for leading a healthy and satisfactory sexual life is talking to your partner. That will not only boost your self confidence, but will also improve understanding about each other’s needs. Tell him your concerns, both emotional and physical. Explore different ways to connect physically and find your happiness. Speaking to a counsellor, when things aren’t working out, is also a good idea.
So if you educate and express yourself and talk about it more often, you can remain sexually active as long as you choose to. That’s important not only for your health but also to maintain a healthy intimate relationship with your special one.
To understand menopause as a personal experience, read our article on Menopause – A personal essay.