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Navigating Sex and Menopause: A Comprehensive Guide to Maintaining Intimacy and Pleasure

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Menopause is a natural transition that every woman experiences, typically between the ages of 45 and 55. This life stage brings about various physical and emotional changes, including shifts in hormone levels that can significantly impact a woman's sexual health and well-being. Many women find themselves struggling with sex and menopause, facing challenges such as vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and painful intercourse. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help women navigate these challenges and maintain a healthy, enjoyable sex life during menopause.


What is Menopause?



Menopause is defined as the point in a woman's life when she has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. This transition occurs due to a natural decline in the production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones essential for reproductive health. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51 years old, but it can occur earlier or later depending on various factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health (North American Menopause Society, 2021).


What is Perimenopause?


Perimenopause, also known as the menopausal transition, is the period leading up to menopause. This phase can begin several years before the final menstrual period and is characterized by fluctuating hormone levels. During perimenopause, women may experience irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness, all of which can impact sexual function and desire (Mayo Clinic, 2021).


How Can I Support a Healthy Sex Life During Menopause or Perimenopause?


Maintaining a healthy sex life during menopause requires open communication, self-care, and a willingness to adapt to the changes in your body. Here are some tips to help support your sexual well-being:

1. Communicate openly with your partner: Discuss your concerns, desires, and any discomfort you may be experiencing. Work together to find solutions and maintain emotional intimacy (Kingsberg & Woodard, 2015).

2. Prioritize self-care: Engage in regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, and manage stress through relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. These practices can help improve overall health and promote sexual well-being (Thomas & Thurston, 2016).

3. Explore new ways to be intimate: Focus on sensual touch, foreplay, and non-penetrative sexual activities to maintain physical closeness and pleasure (Clayton & Harsh, 2016).

4. Use lubricants: Lubricants can help alleviate vaginal dryness and reduce discomfort during intercourse (Lindahl, 2014).

5. Consider hormone therapy: For some women, low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy may be recommended to help alleviate vaginal dryness and improve sexual function (North American Menopause Society, 2021).



 

 

What Kind of Products Can I Use to Have Better Sex During Menopause?

In addition to lubricants, there are several products that can help enhance sexual pleasure and comfort during menopause. For example, Drip and Rouse are two organic arousal oils specifically formulated to address the challenges women face during this time.

Drip is an organic lubricant that contains full-spectrum hemp, marshmallow root, and MCT coconut oil. The CBD and other cannabinoids in the hemp help increase blood flow to the genital area, enhancing sensitivity and arousal. The marshmallow root provides additional lubrication and has emollient properties that soothe and moisturize the delicate vaginal tissue, reducing the risk of micro-tears and discomfort.

Rouse, on the other hand, is an arousal oil that contains full-spectrum hemp, calendula, cinnamon, rose, and MCT coconut oil. The warming sensations from the cinnamon and ginger help increase sensitivity and arousal, while the calendula and rose hydrate and soothe the skin, promoting healing and preventing irritation.

Both products are designed to work synergistically, providing a range of benefits that can help women experiencing sex and menopause to enjoy more comfortable, pleasurable intimate experiences.




Am I Alone in My Struggles?



Absolutely not. Sexual difficulties during menopause are extremely common, affecting up to 80% of women (Kingsberg & Woodard, 2015). Many women experience a decrease in sexual desire, vaginal dryness, and pain during intercourse, which can lead to feelings of frustration, sadness, and even shame. It's essential to remember that these challenges are a normal part of the menopausal transition and that there are many resources and support systems available to help you navigate this time.




Why Does Sex Hurt?


Painful intercourse, also known as dyspareunia, is a common complaint among women going through menopause. This discomfort can be attributed to several factors, including:

1. Vaginal dryness: The decrease in estrogen levels during menopause can lead to thinning and drying of the vaginal tissues, making intercourse uncomfortable or even painful (Lindahl, 2014).

2. Vaginal atrophy: Prolonged estrogen deficiency can cause the vaginal walls to become thinner, less elastic, and more fragile, leading to irritation and pain during sex (North American Menopause Society, 2021).

3. Pelvic floor muscle tension: Hormonal changes and psychological factors such as stress or anxiety can cause the pelvic floor muscles to tighten, resulting in discomfort during penetration (Faubion & Kapoor, 2019).



Why Am I So Dry?


Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause, affecting up to 70% of women (Lindahl, 2014). The primary reason for this dryness is the decrease in estrogen levels, which leads to reduced vaginal lubrication and changes in the vaginal pH. These changes can make the vaginal tissues more susceptible to irritation and infection, further contributing to discomfort and pain during sex.




How Can I Help Vaginal Dryness During Menopause?


There are several strategies you can use to alleviate vaginal dryness and improve your sexual comfort:

  1. Use lubricants: Water-based or silicone-based lubricants can help reduce friction and increase comfort during intercourse (Lindahl, 2014).
  2. Try vaginal moisturizers: These products, which are designed to be used regularly, can help maintain vaginal moisture and improve tissue health (North American Menopause Society, 2021). Our marshmallow root and coconut oil base in Drip make for an excellent vaginal moisturizing solution. 
  3. Consider vaginal estrogen therapy: Low-dose vaginal estrogen, available in creams, tablets, or rings, can help restore vaginal moisture and elasticity (Faubion & Kapoor, 2019).
  4. Engage in regular sexual activity: Sexual stimulation, whether through intercourse or self-stimulation, can help increase blood flow to the vaginal area and promote natural lubrication (Clayton & Harsh, 2016).

    How Can I Match My Mismatched Libido with My Partner?


    Mismatched libidos are a common concern for couples navigating sex and menopause. Open communication and a willingness to compromise are key to finding a balance that works for both partners. Some tips to help bridge the gap include:



    1. Discuss your needs and desires openly and honestly, focusing on finding mutually satisfying solutions (Kingsberg & Woodard, 2015).

      2. Explore non-penetrative forms of intimacy, such as sensual massage or mutual masturbation, to maintain physical closeness and pleasure (Clayton & Harsh, 2016).

      3. Schedule intimate time together, prioritizing your sexual connection and creating space for experimentation and play (Thomas & Thurston, 2016).

      4. Consider couples therapy or sex therapy to help navigate the emotional and psychological aspects of mismatched libidos (Faubion & Kapoor, 2019).



    Navigating sex and menopause can be challenging, but it is possible to maintain a fulfilling and enjoyable sexual life during this transition. By prioritizing open communication, self-care, and a willingness to adapt and explore new ways of experiencing pleasure, women can continue to nurture their sexual well-being throughout menopause and beyond. Remember, you are not alone in your struggles, and there are many resources and support systems available to help you on this journey.

     

     



    References:
    1. Clayton, A. H., & Harsh, V. (2016). Sexual function across aging. Current Psychiatry Reports, 18(3), 28.

    2. Faubion, S. S., & Kapoor, E. (2019). Sexual dysfunction in women: Can we talk about it? Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 86(5), 313-320.

    3. Kingsberg, S. A., & Woodard, T. (2015). Female sexual dysfunction: Focus on low desire. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 125(2), 477-486.

    4. Lindahl, K. J. (2014). Vaginal atrophy: Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 123(5), 1125-1130.

    5. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Perimenopause. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666

    6. North American Menopause Society. (2021). Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. Retrieved from https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal

    7. Thomas, H. N., & Thurston, R. C. (2016). A biopsychosocial approach to women's sexual function and dysfunction at midlife: A narrative review. Maturitas, 87, 49-60.

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