Sex after menopause: Steps to take to make sex better

Along with the common symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, and insomnia, many people will experience a decline in their sex drive and sexual desire.

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Along with the common symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes (or hot flashes), night sweats, and insomnia, many people will experience a decline in their sex drive and sexual desire. This decline can be caused by a number of factors, including: shifts in your progesterone and oestrogen (or estrogen) levels, psychological and physical effects, reduced quality of life, or poor body image.

Why is it important to maintain a healthy sex life after menopause?

Maintaining sex during menopause, as well as after, can have several benefits for your overall well-being and sexual health. 

  • Physical health: Regular sexual activity can help promote better physical health. Engaging in sexual intercourse increases blood flow to the pelvic area, which can help maintain the health of vaginal tissues, prevent vaginal dryness, and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. It also helps maintain the flexibility and elasticity of the vaginal walls.
  • Emotional well-being: Sexual activity can contribute to a sense of emotional intimacy, pleasure, and connection with a partner. It releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals that can reduce stress, anxiety, and improve overall emotional well-being.
  • Maintaining sexual function: Regular sexual activity can help maintain and improve sexual function. It can help prevent or reduce sexual discomfort, such as vaginal dryness or pain during intercourse. Engaging in sexual activity can also help maintain the strength and tone of pelvic floor muscles, which are important for bladder control and sexual pleasure

Some steps to take for a better postmenopausal sex life

Despite the challenges, many postmenopausal women still continue to have fulfilling and satisfying sexual lives. Here are some tips for navigating your sex life after menopause:

1. Communicate openly: Open and honest communication with your partner is crucial. Share your desires, concerns, and preferences with each other. Discuss any changes you've noticed and explore new ways to experience pleasure together.

2. Address vaginal dryness: Menopause often leads to a decrease in natural lubrication, causing vaginal dryness. Using over the counter vaginal lubricants or moisturisers can enhance comfort during sexual activity and reduce discomfort or pain. It's essential to choose products that are free from irritants and compatible with your body, water-based lubricants are often your best bet. If you find that these are still not enough, you can also explore vaginal estrogen therapy, which is discussed further in the next section.

3. Explore hormone therapies: The thinning and drying of vaginal tissue and walls, called vaginal atrophy, hormone therapies, such as local estrogen treatments (vaginal creams, rings, or tablets), can help alleviate symptoms like vaginal dryness, thinning of the vaginal walls, and pain during sex. Discuss the use of hormone therapies with your healthcare provider to determine if they are appropriate for you as they can still increase your risk of breast cancer and blood clots.

4. Take your time: Engage in ample foreplay and take your time to allow the body to naturally respond and become aroused. This can help increase natural lubrication and enhance sexual pleasure.

5. Try different positions and techniques: Experiment with various sexual positions and techniques to find what is comfortable and pleasurable for you and your partner. This can help alleviate any discomfort or pain and allow for an enjoyable sexual experience.

6. Pelvic floor exercises: Regularly practicing pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, improve bladder control, and potentially enhance sexual sensations.

7. Explore new forms of intimacy: Sexual intimacy goes beyond penetrative intercourse. Explore and embrace other forms of physical and emotional intimacy, such as kissing, hugging, cuddling, and sensual touch. Focus on pleasure and connection rather than solely on penetrative sex.

8. Prioritise self-care: Taking care of yourself holistically can positively impact your sexual well-being. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress levels, getting sufficient sleep, and nurturing your emotional well-being.

9. Seek professional help if needed: If you experience ongoing difficulties or concerns related to sexual intimacy after menopause, consider consulting a healthcare professional, such as a gynaecologist, urologist, or sex therapist. They can provide specialised guidance, recommendations, and treatment options tailored to your specific situation.

Remember, everyone's experience with sex after menopause is unique. It's important to listen to your body, communicate openly with your partner, and explore what works best for you and your sexual health 💜