According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the largest private medical and research centers in the world, menopause is 12 consecutive months without a period. It usually begins at the age of 40-50, in Russia the average age of menopause is 52 years. The symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman, but the most common are hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.
Menopause is not the most pleasant time. However, there is no reason to believe that she will destroy your intimate life forever. The opinion that after menopause women stop having sex is nothing more than a myth. The ability to enjoy the process and experience an orgasm will not go anywhere. However, let’s figure out what exactly to expect.
Penetrative sex after menopause can be painful
Obstetrician-gynecologist and MD Antonio Pizarro says that he often hears complaints from his patients over 50 that they experience discomfort and pain during sex. This is due to vaginal atrophy – a change in the tissue of the vagina, which becomes thinner and more tender. This is due to changes in estrogen levels.
Atrophy can cause pain, vaginal dryness, and problems with urination. According to the Mayo Clinic, one in two women experience these symptoms. However, there is no reason to worry: all these difficulties are easily solved with the help of hormonal drugs, so a visit to the gynecologist will allow you to return to your former “humidity”.
You need lube for sex
And there’s nothing wrong with that, whether you decide to take hormones or not. The best choice is a water-based lubricant that does not contain glycerin and is suitable for people with sensitive skin.
MD, OB-GYN Tami Rowan of the University of California San Francisco recommends buying a lubricant that mimics the natural pH of the vagina (range 3.8 to 4.5) to minimize the risk of bacterial vaginosis.
Libido may decrease due to menopause
It’s not universal, but some women experience a decrease in sex drive during menopause, says Dr. Pizarro. The problem is that it is difficult for doctors to understand how to deal with it, the cause is not so easy to determine.
“Libido is a complex thing that goes beyond issues related to the ovaries, uterus and hormones,” notes Pizarro. He recommends not to forget about physical education: loads allow for normal blood circulation, which is an important component for lubrication during sex.
Menopause Leads to Mental and Emotional Changes
“Most women don’t like their periods, but when they disappear, they feel older than their years,” says Tami Rowan. “For some people, the thought of not having their period can be psychologically distressing.”
During menopause, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone change. This jump has consequences: feelings of anxiety and depression may arise. Hot flashes are often accompanied by insomnia, which in turn leads to mood swings and anxiety.
These transformations are superimposed on experiences due to the lack of menstruation, and it is not surprising that a woman’s desire to have sex disappears. Lilian Goncalves, MD of the Cleveland Clinic, recommends paying attention to the duration of symptoms: if you feel down every day for more than two weeks, you should see a therapist.
Can you get pregnant after menopause?
According to the World Health Organization, within a year after the last menstruation, spontaneous ovulation is possible, which will not be accompanied by bleeding. So there is a non-illusory possibility of getting pregnant, which is why doctors recommend contraception for another two years after menopause.
Sex can still be great
Despite all the above disadvantages, intimate life after menopause can remain beautiful. Dr. Pizarro says that women continue to actively have sex even without taking estrogen. What’s more, after menopause, sexual satisfaction can increase!
This happens for several reasons. First, anxiety about the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy disappears. Secondly, with age, women realize how stupid it is to think that the vagina and vulva are something dirty, they begin to study their body and enjoy it. This leads to the fact that the number of orgasms increases, and they themselves become brighter.
Sex can replace other things
“Often, patients who have gone through menopause many years ago report that their attitude towards sex has changed: its impact on life is not what it used to be,” says Pizarro. When discussing possible options for restoring libido, many women decide that this is not such a serious problem for them to start taking drugs. “They are more focused on spending time with their partner or traveling,” Pizarro explains.
If your sex problem is bothering you, don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Do not ignore the changes that cause you anxiety. If you are unhappy with sex, then you can and should talk about it with a gynecologist. The doctor dismisses and advises to take care of grandchildren or beds in the country? Find another doctor who will listen, take your concerns seriously, and help you develop a treatment plan that allows you to have a fulfilling sex life after menopause. And most importantly – do not be shy about your desires, there is nothing strange in them.