What Does Menopause Mean for My Sex Life?
You may have heard people whispering about ‘the change’ as if it’s some sort of shameful secret, but really, menopause is just a normal phase of life that people go through and is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed or worried about.
What Exactly Is the Menopause?
Put simply, the menopause is simply when oestrogen levels decline and periods stop. The average age to reach menopause is 51, but generally it comes on any time between the age of 45 and 55. However, some women go through early menopause which can either happen naturally at any age or as a side effect of certain treatments, so don’t feel alone if you’re experiencing symptoms earlier than you’d expect.
What Is Perimenopause?
Before menopause comes the perimenopause, a period where the ovaries start making less oestrogen, which usually lasts a few years. Once you’ve had 12 months with no periods, then you’re officially out of perimenopause and into menopause. It’s a totally normal phase, just one that we maybe don’t talk about as much as we should – in fact, Gwyneth Paltrow has called for a ‘rebrand’ around the perimenopause and menopause, hoping to change the conversation around it!
What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?
Whilst going through both perimenopause and menopause, the most common symptoms people tend to experience are:
- Hot flushes
- Mood changes, such as a lower mood or anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Vaginal dryness
As everybody handles ‘the change’ differently, there are a variety of symptoms you may experience. You can find the full list of symptoms here.
Similar to symptoms, there are mixed emotions when it comes to the thought of going through menopause. For some, it’s a liberating new stage in life where they can throw away their tampons and stop worrying about pregnancy, but for others, it can feel a bit daunting. One thing that many people find during perimenopause and menopause is that it has an effect on their sex lives, but don’t worry – there are ways to manage it!
What Changes Can I Expect to My Sex Life During Menopause?
Ever heard people saying that their sex lives disappear once they reach a certain age? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way – here are a few changes you might experience during menopause and how to overcome them.
Your sex drive might decrease
You might find that you aren’t quite as interested in sex as before, which is completely normal as your body is going through a change. Does it mean you’ll never want to do it again? Of course not! You might just have to look at a few different ways to get in the mood.
When many people reach menopause in their 40s and 50s, they’ve got a lot going on – marriage, kids, careers – so sex won’t always be a priority when there are a million other things to focus on. Stress is a known sex drive zapper, so if this sounds familiar, try looking at ways to make intimacy a priority again. Scheduling sex may not sound very sexy, but why not plan in some uninterrupted time with your partner (or with yourself!) to reconnect again? And remember that intimacy doesn’t always have to mean sex – even kissing more and holding hands can help you both feel closer.
As a drop in libido can be caused by hormonal changes, some people consider hormone replacement therapy to help keep menopause symptoms at bay, but if this isn’t for you, lifestyle changes can work wonders for your sexual health. Quitting smoking, eating well and getting more exercise can all give your sex drive a boost, but one of the most important factors for a healthy sex life? Communicating with your partner! Make sure to talk to them about how you’re feeling and what you need.
Your pelvic floor muscles might weaken
A surprising side effect for some during menopause is that their pelvic floor muscles weaken, but there’s an easy way to help strengthen them again – by getting those Kegels in.
You can do pelvic floor exercises any time, by simply sitting down and squeezing the muscles – the same muscles you tighten to stop peeing – 10 to 15 times, holding each squeeze for a few seconds if possible. Strong pelvic floor muscles give you increased sensitivity during sex and stronger orgasms, so give them a go.
You might experience vaginal dryness
Suddenly finding sex is starting to feel a little uncomfortable? You’re not alone – vaginal dryness during perimenopause and menopause, thanks to the change in your hormone levels. If you’ve never used lube before, you might feel a bit shy about introducing it into the bedroom, but it’s such an easy way to make sex feel more comfortable. A water-based lubricant like KY can add moisture to the lining of the vagina, and it’s gentle enough for everyday use and non-sticky.
Menopause is a journey, and part of that journey is finding out what works for you as your body changes – there’s no reason that you can’t still have a healthy and active sex life after menopause.
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