Menopause is a transformative time in a person’s life. During this natural part of aging, one’s menstruation cycle begins to decrease until it ceases altogether. All the while, the body is adjusting to these changes; and like all transitions, there’s some exciting and some frustrating aspects. For many people experiencing menopause, changes in sex drive and sexual pleasure are among the most crushing. But sex can (and should—if that’s what you want, of course!) be enjoyed throughout the different stages of menopause.
What is menopause and who does it affect?
A normal part of aging, menopause is a stage in someone’s life when their reproductive cycle begins to slow down and prepares to stop. Biologically, one’s ovaries begin producing less estrogen, changing one’s menstrual cycle till it halts. Menopause typically occurs when someone is in their late 40s and early 50s; however, some people can experience menopause earlier as a result of a surgical removal of their ovaries (such as a hysterectomy) or damage to the ovaries.
What are the three stages of menopause?
Menopause marks the end of one’s reproductive years. The process is gradual and has three stages.
1) Perimenopause: Perimenopause commences the menopause process. Starting about 10 years before menopause (typically when someone is in their 40s), during this stage the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. As such, people start to experience irregular periods. However, it’s still possible to get pregnant during this time.
2) Menopause: Menopause occurs when someone doesn’t experience a period for 12 consecutive months. At this stage, the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. Some symptoms include hot flashes, urinary urgency, dryness, insomnia and emotional changes.
3) Postmenopause: Following menopause (or a year without menstruation), people enter postmenopause. During this stage, the body is more accustomed to the changes it experienced; symptoms, like hot flashes, begin to ease. A person is considered to be postmenopause for the rest of their life after menopause.
How can my sex drive be impacted during each stage?
Throughout the stages of menopause, primarily perimenopause and menopause, it’s normal for people to experience a decrease in their sex drive. With the loss of estrogen, some people find that they aren’t as easily aroused and become less sensitive to touch. Meanwhile, increased vaginal dryness can make penetrative sex feel painful. Additionally, the physical changes people experience sometimes lead to emotional changes, like stress, anxiety and depression, that can reduce one’s sexual desire.
It’s important to note that everybody’s experience with menopause varies, so some may encounter more changes in their sex drive and pleasure than others. During menopause and postmenopause, for instance, some people actually experience a rise in their sex drive. Medical professionals believe the surge is tied to the sexual freedom they might feel knowing they can have penetrative sex without the risk of getting pregnant.
How can I treat vaginal dryness during menopause?
A decrease in oestrogen during menopause can affect vaginal tissues, making them less moisturized and elastic. This can lead to vaginal dryness, which may cause discomfort or pain during sex. Throughout the different stages of menopause, vaginal dryness can often be treated with water-based lubricants. At the Bloomi marketplace, Coconu’s Water-Based Personal Lubricant is long-lasting and has a silky, sensuous feel that moisturizes sensitive areas while giving a boost to intimate moments. Sliquid Organic’s Water-Based Lubricant has a light, slippery consistency that’s perfect for mimicking natural lubrication. Finally, Good Clean Love’s Water-Based Lubricant has a delicious, long-lasting glide that’s designed for sensitive skin.
How can I boost my sex drive during menopause?
People typically experience a decrease in their sex drive due to painful sex related to vaginal dryness. After treating the source of the discomfort through water-based lubricants, many people can enjoy sex again. However, some may still struggle with getting aroused. During the menopausal transition, blood flow to the vagina and clitoris decreases, reducing sensitivity. Arousal oils can help because their formula works to heighten sensitivity in the genital area, enhancing lubrication and making touch pleasurable. Bloomi Arousal Oil has natural ingredients that boost libido by increasing blood circulation, heightening sensations and balancing sexual energy.
How can I deepen intimacy during this stage in my life?
Many people experiencing menopause while in relationships fear that intimacy may wane during this stage in their life, but that’s not necessarily true. As with any change that occurs during a relationship, communication is key. It’s crucial to talk with your partner(s) about the decreased sensitivity you’re experiencing, the discomfort you might be feeling during sex and any other physical or emotional change you are facing. Together, you can work to boost arousal and pleasure. The process may take longer and require a different approach. For some, foreplay will be essential. Consider starting playtime by masturbating, receiving oral sex or playing with a vibrator. We love to accompany solo and partnered sex with Lelo’s Ora 3 Oral Simulation or Dame’s Fin Vibrator.
If intimacy problems aren’t improving or feel difficult to discuss, consider working with a sexologist, counselor and/or a health professional who specializes in sexual health. There’s no one answer to approaching menopause and no shame in the changes that you and your partner(s) need to make in your pleasure and intimacy.