How To Make Sex Comfortable During Menopause
Whether you’re going through menopause personally or it’s impacting someone close to you, odds are you know that it can be a difficult—albeit natural—process. Most notably, you might find that menopause can touch every aspect of your life like your mood, energy levels, physical appearance, and even sex. And while all of these things are totally normal, menopause largely goes unaddressed in our culture, so it’s important to dispel myths and provide the information you might need to go about it in the healthiest way for you.
For starters, note this: There’s nothing shameful about menopause, especially when it comes to your sex life. Menopause can cause an onslaught of physical discomfort like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, pelvic pain, so it’s no wonder that sometimes you might not be in the mood to ~do it~. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that pain needs to define sex while you’re going through menopause. It’s not inevitable! There are expert-backed ways to make this process more pleasant for you.
The following is what you should know about making sex comfortable during and after menopause, according to sex and relationship experts. (Hint: it involves using lube!)
What are the common causes of vaginal dryness during menopause?
Let’s reiterate: menopause can bring vaginal dryness, pelvic pain, hot flashes explains sex and relationships therapist Dr. Janet Brito, PhD, founder of the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health. This is largely caused by the changes in hormonal levels brought about by menopause. Primarily, you will experience a drop in estrogen, which can impact the lubrication, elasticity, and thickness of the vaginal walls, per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
That said, these changes in your vagina don’t need to stop your sex life. To help mitigate the symptoms, Brito suggests incorporating liberal amounts of lube during sex to help combat dryness and pain. You can also go even slower during foreplay and work up to penetrative sex so that you feel fully comfortable before even thinking about penetration.
What are the symptoms of menopause-related vaginal dryness?
Basically, you might feel like it’s painful or hard to be fully penetrated during sex or masturbation. This is because your body is not producing enough natural lubrication on its own, and odds are you will need to add a lube into the equation in order to feel wet enough for comfortable sex!
Are there any risks or side effects associated with using lubricants during menopause?
No! You should be all good to use lubricants during menopause. If anything, just take a look at the ingredients before you use the lube of your choosing. Make sure you’re comfortable with the ingredients being used, knowing that they won’t irritate you. Not sure how to check for this? You can try doing a patch test on your leg or the back of your hand. Leave a dab of the product on there for about 10 minutes to see if you find any irritation coming about. If not, you should be fine!
How can women talk to their partner about sex after menopause?
First and foremost, you can practice being more assertive with your sexual partner about what works for you in this new stage of life. For some, this means ditching penetrative sex and ~focusing on oral or grinding~ to reach orgasm, Brito says. You can also try using gentler sex toys and showing your partner how to touch you in a way that feels good with your current symptoms.
And look, menopause isn’t inherently sad or weepy, but for some, it can be a time of mourning, Brito explains. “Life as you knew it before is not going to be the same, and this could be an opportunity to redefine what it means to you,” Brito says. Allow yourself to feel this sense of loss (if it’s there) and share it with your partner so that you can move through it without judgment. If you can, adopt a mindful attitude and bring curiosity to this process, Brito explains.
What other lifestyle changes can help improve sexual health during menopause?
Seeking support like pelvic floor therapy can be super helpful during menopause, Brito says, especially (as mentioned) when it comes to penetration. “Pelvic floor therapy can help you learn exercises regarding breathing, posture, loosening up muscle, or learning how the area has changed,” Brito says. You’re basically relearning sex for your new body. Which is kind of novel and hot, no?
“It’s just readjusting to this transition, because you are sexual until you die,” Brito explains. (Say that again!) While your interest in sex may wane sometimes during this period, if you seek the help—such as pelvic floor therapy, couples therapy, reading material, or intervention from other medical & holistic experts—you will find a way to continue and **expand** your love for sex.
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