3 Tips for Better Sex After Menopause
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stamford Health
Everyone knows your body goes through many changes after menopause. You may be wondering, "What does that mean for my sex life?"
For many, the decrease in estrogen causes vaginal dryness and thinning; which can lead to discomfort and pain during sex. For others, you’ve been in a long-term relationship and, over the years, you’ve noticed a decline in your sex drive.
These are the top tips for making sure that “the change” doesn’t change your sex life, too.
1. The lowdown on lubricants.
After menopause, circulating levels of estrogen and testosterone in the body decrease. This can lead to vaginal atrophy (thinning of the vaginal tissue), irritation, swelling and dryness. Menopause is often the first time women start to feel pain or discomfort with penetration on a regular basis. There are a number of lubricants that can help but, first, you need to determine which is best for you.
Oil- or petroleum-based lubricants, like Vaseline, are sticky, thick and can stain the bed sheets; additionally, they can make condoms more prone to breakage. Better alternatives are water-based lubricants, but be wary of the ingredients: Propylene glycol can alter the vaginal flora and make women more susceptible to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Lubricants containing chlorhexidine can cause burning and irritation.. Those with silicone can damage sex toys. Lubricants made from carbophil or cellulose, are helpful daily vaginal moisturizers but not necessarily great for sex.
Excellent natural alternatives are coconut oil and olive oil. A small drop is all you need. Finally, you can talk to your doctor about whether topical estrogens are a good choice for you.
2. Good vibrations.
Menopause not only manifests in physical changes but also mental changes. Women start to think differently about their bodies and their sexuality. Don’t let this stifle your self-esteem; instead, celebrate yourself!
Self-stimulation is still important to your sexual health. Personal vibrators have been shown to increase vascularity in the genital region. The increased blood flow not only increases arousal, but also increases estrogen delivery to the area, which can help with lubrication and rejuvenation.
3. Revving up your sexual drive.
Being “in the mood” is complex. Both physical and emotional factors play roles, and it’s different for men and women. Research has shown that for women, in particular, sexual desire varies throughout the lifetime of a relationship. In a new relationship, sex for women is lusty, spontaneous, and gratifying; whereas, after a year or more in a relationship, desire and physical arousal may only occur after a woman chooses to experience sexual stimulation. Becoming cognizant of this and actively making this mental shift, may help you get the sparks flying between you and your partner. Dedicate time to be more intimate with your partner: enjoy a candlelight dinner, go for long walks together, or give each other back rubs.
Remember, sex after menopause may be different, but with some effort can still be very satisfying.