5 Common Midlife Intimacy Issues
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and, with that, maybe sex is on your mind. Or maybe not so much. If you’re experiencing a pull toward the latter, you’re far from alone. As with the countless other changes women have to endure during menopause, hormonal changes play a significant role in sexual health and the level of desire for intimacy. And this can start as early as perimenopause. Let’s cover some of the most common issues, as well as the importance of maintaining your sexual health throughout menopause.
Five of the most common sexual health complaints during menopause
Loss of desire to have sex
Basically, libido is way down, and you might rather mop the floor than engage in intimacy.
Most women will experience dryness starting in perimenopause, and it will progressively worsen in the postmenopausal years.
Pain with intercourse
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but sex may become so uncomfortable that it causes pain. A natural reflex among women experiencing this is for their pelvic muscles to contract in anticipation of it being painful. As you can imagine, this makes it worse.
The loss of estrogen during menopause can lead to a loss of volume and the shrinking of the labia and vulva. Things just don’t work like they used to, and without proper treatment and attention, they will likely get worse over time.
It’s probably not a surprise that, when things get uncomfortable, or there’s a change in the norm of intimacy, it’s not always easy to talk about. Many women find it hard to have conversations about waning sex drive with their partner.
Fortunately, there are many solutions to the aforementioned sexual health concerns women experience in midlife. The hardest part is making the first step to acknowledge that there’s a problem and start making a plan to address your sexual health, with your partner.
To address the communication barrier, it’s essential that your partner is aware of and understands what you’re going through. Whether that means sharing a website or article that discusses these common issues or going together to speak to your gynecologist, this is a relational issue and should be addressed together. This also means coming up with solutions together, which likely means trying new things to engage in intimacy and stay connected, while being forgiving of what you can’t control.
For the physical changes, there are also many considerations. Many women find that using moisturizers and lubricants makes a big difference, and they may need to continue using the products for a long time. Other women may need more stimulation using a vibrator. The bottom line is that sexual health during menopause becomes a “use it or lose it” situation. The problem won't go away on its own. As the busy individuals we all are, sometimes the best intervention is to start scheduling intimacy rather than relying on spontaneity or innate desire that just isn’t there anymore. Your sexual health depends on it.
Whatever the case may be, know that you’re in the company of millions of women dealing with changes in sexual health during menopause and that your relationship is also among millions. This means there’s been a lot of research done on the topic and the right solution is out there for you and your partner.
For more tips on sexual wellness and intimacy, check out our interview with Dr. Barb Depree, an expert on all things midlife sex. For more information on optimizing your sexual health during midlife and expert answers to frequently asked questions on the topic, join us at Lisa Health!