Menopause can affect your sex life to a varying degree, and with the ever-changing libido and changes in how you feel about yourself, it can be difficult to navigate sex during menopause. With sexual wellness a core part of your overall health, don’t leave it as an afterthought. Instead ensure you look after it correctly with these expert tips on dealing with sex during menopause.
In 2021 Davina McCall released a groundbreaking documentary helping explore stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding menopause from sex to hormone treatment. With 51% of those going through menopause saying it had affected their sex life, it is more important than ever to look after your sex life, especially when going through menopause.
Yet before this documentary, these experts were already smashing taboos and raising awareness, from award-winning writers to OB-GYN’s, we have rounded up some of the most trusted menopause experts to share their top tips for dealing with sex during menopause.
Accept you’re going through changes
“Accept who you are, where you are and how you are… The first step in this major transition is to accept that you are at this stage in your life, and view it as a new, exciting beginning!” says Dr. Anna Cabeca, Triple Board-Certified OB-GYN and internationally-acclaimed menopause expert.
One of the largest barriers when it comes to menopause and sex is the idea that nothing has changed, if you choose to ignore the physical and emotional changes you might end up feeling worse and not enjoying yourself when it comes to getting intimate. Accepting the changes, talking about menopause and receiving support from your partner can help you have a smoother ride. Dr. Anna Cabeca also mentions a positive mindset and a sense of humor can go a long way during and after sex:
“There are mirror neurons in our brain. So what we think can and will manifest. We want a positive, confident image of ourselves, and at the same time, we can’t take ourselves too seriously either. When we're being intimate with a person, while it can and often is a serious moment; let’s face it, there’s a lot of funny and awkward situations we can find ourselves in before, during and after sex, so we should keep it light, and be able to laugh and have fun with it.”
Don’t put pressure on yourself and communicate
“When libido takes an extended vacation, I fall back on a couples therapist’s recommendation: “No agenda or pressure. Just show up naked once a week with a smile on your face.” It worked - they enjoyed holding hands and talking at first. Eventually, her libido returned.” shares Lynette Sheppard, creator of the Menopause Goddesses and author of Becoming A Menopause Goddess.
Putting pressure on anyone to perform can be a recipe for disaster, especially when your body is going through momentous changes. One of the worst things you can do is shut yourself off from everyone and although menopause may make you feel entirely isolated, it is important to seek support from your partner, friends, family and experts. Dr. Anna Cabeca also suggests:
“Be present and focus on the sensation and the goodness of the feelings, the person you're with. Convey what you like in a positive, loving and assertive way, and also let your partner know of your dislikes and/or discomfort. It is important to remember that when it comes to sexual intimacy, there is no area in our lives where we're more vulnerable. So communicating honestly, open-heartedly, as a best friend, a coach, a caring, loving person is the best way to deepen intimacy, increase pleasure and address the changes that occur during menopause.”
"Maintaining an honest and open discussion is the most important thing you can do. You and your partner need to communicate physically and emotionally creating an open dialogue about how you are feeling sexually"
Expand your view of sex and try a new sexual adventure
“If it didn’t work before menopause, it probably won’t after…Now would be a great time to stop doing things you know do not work for you, that you don’t like or don’t want, and start insisting on the things you need, want and like” advises Heather Corinna, a dedicated queer activist and educator and author of “What Fresh Hell Is This?” - a guide to the menopausal transition.
Move away from goal-orientated sex, and mix up your sexual routine. If you notoriously go straight to genital sex ignoring all the other ways of expressing sexuality and ignoring foreplay then try to explore your body and find out what else feels good. There are thousands of nerve endings all over your body that you can experience immense pleasure from. A sexual adventure might be just what’s needed to reignite the spark in the bedroom and have you feeling sexier than ever.
“Consider the menopause transition as fine a reason as any to try and expand your idea of what sex is and what your sexual body is. In other words, all of us have been influenced by the strongly limited ways our cultures have defined both of those things, and have probably limited your sexuality and sexual life as a result. They can do so even more during and after the menopause transition and make it much more frustrating sexually than it might have to be.” - Heather Corinna.
Incorporate a vibrator into the bedroom
The physical changes your body goes through means that what worked before might not have the same effect, with sexual changes such as low libido, vaginal dryness, and pain during sex. “One simple strategy to address some of these issues is to use a vibrator,” suggests Lisa Health, a digital health company modernizing menopause and midlife women’s health shares their top tip for addressing your menopausal changes in relation to sex. Lisa Health add:
“Apart from the pleasure vibrators offer, they have therapeutic benefits for menopausal women. These devices can help with arousal and orgasm issues that many women experience as they age. Vibrators can increase blood flow to the genitals and create more vaginal moisture, which can lead to better and less painful sex. Just be sure to use a lubricant to reduce friction. If you've never used a vibrator, think of it as a new adventure and the opportunity to rediscover and enhance your sexual pleasure.”
A vibrator like Crescendo that bends to suit your unique body, delivers targeted sensations exactly where you need them making it great for increasing blood flow to create natural lubrication. With the customizable intensity levels and motors throughout the whole length of Crescendo, there are multiple options to help with arousal and help lead to better sex!
Heather Corinna also suggests “you might need a new trip to the toy store! The same toys you have used before might not be the toys you want now. You might need more high-octane vibration than you did, or you might want something gentler. If you use dildos, less may be more now.”
Up to 60% of women suffer from vaginal atrophy after menopause and vaginal dryness starts affecting women from their early 40’s, however only around 30% of women with symptoms seek medical advice, with most women “considering it a natural condition". Don't suffer in silence instead approach your GP or a menopause expert such as Dr Shahzadi Harper who specialises in women’s wellbeing and hormonal balance in perimenopause and beyond.
Dr Shahzadi Harper explains:
"The reason for loss of libido is complex, but the two main components are hormonal and circumstantial or life events. Many factors contribute to a woman feeling less sexual desire during menopause. The physical problems such as vaginal dryness and pain during sex virtually all stem from declining oestrogen levels, not just during menopause but during perimenopause. Unless addressed with treatment, sexual problems can become the new norm. Don’t hold back, talk to your GP or a menopause expert to take the steps you need in order to get your sex drive back whether that's hormone replacement therapy (HRT), using extra lubrication or using a vibrator-like Crescendo to target vibrations and work out your vaginal muscles"
Lube is your best friend
“It's a myth that every woman will lose their sex drive after menopause, in fact, many women feel more liberated and aroused. Some women are put off sex because it’s become painful, due to the thinning of vaginal walls. If that's you, make lube your best friend and practice, practice, practice. Sex with yourself or another is a great way of staying healthy,” says Eileen Bellot who started the Menstruation to Menopause Project, an art and storytelling project that explores the journey taken between menstruation to menopause, to increase awareness about reproductive wellbeing.
Lube is one product you need in your sex life - regardless of what stage in life you are at. “If you didn’t need it before, and something is going inside an orifice of yours, you really, really, really, need it now. Beyond needing it, you’ll want it. It feels nice!” adds Heather Corinna.
These experts all rave about lube and there are obvious reasons why. Personal lubricants offer a number of exciting bedroom opportunities from enhanced sensations to a reduction in friction for more pleasurable solo or partnered sex.
Dr. Anna Cabeca also recommends using “Julva - my gynecologist-formulated, cosmetic cream for our delicate, vital tissues. It is a natural vaginal rejuvenation cream that increases vulvar vaginal moisture as well as sensitivity to the clitoris. It can be used on your vibrator and also together with your vibrator.”
Thanks to these menopause experts for sharing these reassuring pieces of advice when it comes to dealing with sex and menopause.