The menopause is a part of a woman’s life. Although most women don’t have to face this transitional period until their 40’s and 50’s, women who have a hysterectomy can expect to experience early menopause, with symptoms more severe than normal. During this time your ovaries will shut down, and you will no longer be able to conceive. Whether you are experiencing the menopause naturally or as a result of having a hysterectomy, one thing is for sure – this doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life.
Although some women will experience a number of symptoms, which may affect their sex life, some women will experience no symptoms at all, and continue to have a healthy and happy sex life.
Here are some myths, facts and tips to help you out.
Contrary to the myth, your vagina will not shrivel up or shrink, but it’s true that you may suffer from vaginal dryness. This is due to shifting hormones and a decrease in oestrogen. The vaginal walls may thin too leading to painful sex, which is undoubtedly will out you off sex.
Dr Ricciotti of Harvard Medical School suggests that having lots of sex as this increases blood flow to the vagina, but the best way to deal with vaginal dryness is to invest in a good lubricant. If it’s been a few years since you last tried one you may be surprised by the upturn in quality. Light, water-based lubricants are readily available in supermarkets – they are non-irritating sex life paramedics.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
According to Public Health England, and as seen in the map below, STIs in the over 50s are rising. It is therefore vital to remember that just because you may no longer require contraception, it doesn’t mean condoms are obsolete. STIs are common and the only way to prevent them is using barrier methods such as male condoms, female condoms and dental dams for oral sex.
Source: euroClinix UK
Always use barrier contraception with every partner you sleep with. If you have unprotected sex its worth going for a check-up. Some STIs have no symptoms in women such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Urinary tract infections differ from STIs, but the symptoms can be similar. It’s likely you’ve had one in the past so you’ll know cystitis is characterised by a burning sensation on urination (to put it mildly). You may pee blood or pus and have a temperature. Drink water to flush out the infection. You’ll need antibiotics if it won’t go. Urinary tract infections are more common after menopause because of the thinner vaginal walls.
Lack of body confidence
With menopause can come the nagging feeling that you may be past your prime and that you’re not as attractive or sexually appealing as younger women. This is nonsense. The menopause does not change who you are.
Smile, keep healthy and deal with the problems menopause throws at you. If you’re struggling with weight gain there are a number of things you can do to prevent it. Menopause can cause weight gain by interfering with your metabolism, but you can manage it by watching your food and alcohol intake and by getting regular exercise.
Lack of sex drive
Some women might find they simply don’t feel like sex. Indeed, a drop in sex drive is normal during menopause. On the other hand some women find their sex drive increases and this is considered normal too. It’s simply the luck of the draw with hormones.
If hormones are not too much of a problem a lack of self-confidence can cripple a sex drive. Your partner can support you by complementing and encouraging you to be confident. Exercise plays its role as well. A fit body and mind can overcome any psychological doubts you may harbour about your sex appeal.
How to help your sex life after menopause
Natural ways to support your sex life include using lubricants, keeping your weight under control, staying close to your partner with plenty of physical contact and by exercising regularly. Many women opt for HRT, which can certainly help with symptoms such as a dry vagina, hot flushes and mood swings.
Introducing some variety to the bedroom can help boost a flagging sex life too. It’s easy to become ‘lazy’ with each other particular if you’ve been together a long time. Jazz up your sex life by having sex in the kitchen, outside, introducing sex toys or talking about fantasies. Talk about what you’d both like to do.
If your children have moved out or you’re in a new relationship then you may have more time for a relationship. Don’t let menopause prevent you enjoying sex; just make sure you’re protected from STIs by wearing a condom. Remember there’s no age limit for sex – and menopause is no barrier to a healthy, loving, sexually fulfilling relationship.
(This is an information post written by the lovely people over at euroClinix UK)