Yes ladies, I am going to talk about the vagina and sex! If you are anything like my mother-in-law, you will turn red in the face and laugh through the whole conversation. She is even afraid to say the word “sperm”, instead opting to call them “swimmers”. So if you can’t say “vagina” or “sex” then you might want to go back to reading “How To Sew” instead of reading about Menopause and Sex.
Oh you’re still reading? Good for you … and your man!
Nearly all women will go through menopause at some point in their lives. Often this comes at a price of discomfort, moodiness, and one of the biggest — yet least discussed — side effects of menopause, loss of intimacy. While some symptoms may seem inevitable, menopause does not need to signify the end of a woman’s sex life. You are still perfectly capable of being intimate and trying to keep your symptoms under control. Let’s begin …
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is not a disease, but rather the point in a woman’s life at which she is no longer fertile, and menstrual periods have ceased. During this time, ovulation stops and estrogen hormones drop. Menopause can be accompanied by physical symptoms in some women, like hot flashes or night sweats. Menopause is the time point at which a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 months. Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause, and the symptoms of the transition can take two to ten years. Menopause can be seen as a positive beginning of a new phase of life, with opportunities to take preventive action against major health risks.
Perimenopause and Menopause Myths Versus Facts
According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), an estimated 6,000 women who reach menopause in the U.S. each day. And if you’re reaching or in your MidLife like I am, you’re probably experiencing peri/current/post menopause stage. I think it’s time to shed light on the intimate wellness during menopause. Women going through menopause don’t have to live with uncomfortable and discouraging symptoms, and will find relief in some key facts about this important stage in life.
Myth: Women experience menopause in their fifties.
Fact: Menopause actually affects a broad age range of women. While the average age of menopause for U.S. women is 51 years, perimenopause — which refers to the time during which a woman’s body begins to transition in preparation for menopause — can begin as early as mid-30s. Additionally, early onset of menopause can occur as a result of chemical and surgical interventions, such as chemotherapy or hysterectomies.
- Perimenopause can begin as early as your 30’s.
- The average woman hits menopause around the age of 51.
- Some women experience postmenopause until around the age of 60.
- Smoking increases your odds of early menopause.
- 80% of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes.
- 40% of menopausal women suffer from mood swings caused by hormonal dips.
- By the year 2030, it is expected that there will be 1.2 billion women who are 50 years of age or older. That means there will be roughly 1.2 billion women suffering from menopause.
- Before menopause, women are 3X less likely to have a heart attack than men. After menopause, they have an equal chance of having a heart attack as their male counterparts.
- 1 in 4 women are affected by osteoporosis after menopause.
- Even though fertility decreases as you approach menopause, you can still get pregnant with irregular periods. In fact, the second highest unintended pregnancy rate is for women between 40-44 years old.
- A 1998 Gallup survey states that more than half (51 percent) of American women between the ages 50 and 65 who had reached menopause said they are happiest and most fulfilled now more than ever.
Myth: Hot flashes and mood swings are the most common menopause symptoms.
Fact: While nearly every woman will experience menopause at some point in her life, not all of them will experience it the same way. According to NAMS, as a woman transitions into menopause, lower estrogen levels not only cause hot flashes but have several other effects on the body such as vaginal dryness, which can undermine sexual motivation and drive.
In fact, according to a 2015 Toluna Quick Survey Study of 1,000 postmenopausal women, 75 percent suffer from vaginal dryness to some extent, and 90 percent who responded they suffer from vaginal dryness to a moderate-large extent said the dryness negatively affects their life. This is because peri, menopausal and postmenopausal women often experience VVA (Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy), also known as GSM (Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause) — characterized by lesser known symptoms of vaginal dryness, burning, itching, incontinence and painful intercourse.
For more common symptoms, visit http://menopauseawarenessmonth.org/symptoms.html
Myth: Menopause symptoms impacting a woman’s intimacy are permanent and a woman’s sex life is never the same.
Fact: Symptoms that affect intimacy can be frustrating for both a woman going through menopause and her partner. However, women who experience these types of symptoms do not need to live with them for the rest of their lives. There are many treatments for intimacy discomforts, such as CO2RE(R) Intima – a simple, quick and effective procedure — is one of the latest innovations in vaginal therapy, helping women with their intimate wellness, particularly with issues surrounding menopause. The procedure delivers both immediate and long-lasting relief in a painless, non-surgical treatment. CO2RE Intima can help treat these symptoms and get a woman’s sex life back on track.
Or if you are the all natural woman such as myself, I recommend water-soluble lubricants (such as K-Y jelly, K-Y Silk, liquibeads, etc.) as they can also be just as effective in the relief of vaginal dryness, though you will have to apply before each encounter and sometimes during intimacy unlike the above treatment.
Menopause Sex & Intimacy
According to NAMS, as estrogen levels fall as women approach and pass menopause, the resulting dryness and thinning of vaginal tissues can cause penetration and intercourse to be uncomfortable for many women. The discomfort can range from a feeling of dryness to a feeling of vaginal “tightness” to severe pain during sex. After sex, some women feel soreness in their vagina or burning in their vulva or vagina. Over time, and without treatment, the inflammation that may result from infrequent sex without sufficient vaginal lubrication can lead to tearing and bleeding of vaginal tissues during sex. Between 17% and 45% of postmenopausal women say they find sex painful.
Be Less Conventional with Your Sex Life
Some women find that they lose their desire for sex after the menopause. It’s normal for sex drive to reduce over the years, but it can be made worse by depression, menopausal symptoms, relationship problems and stress. Because of the physical changes that can affect your sex life, you may have to adjust your behavior to compensate. Make your sex life less conventional. Be creative! Let your imagination go! As a start, suggest sexual activities in different places in your house. Wear different lingerie. Initiate sexual activities at a different time of day than your lifelong routine. Say things you’ve never said before to your partner. Talk about sex!!
Here are some ways to make your sex life more pleasurable and less painful
- 4 Ways To Have More Ooh And Less Ouch During Sex
- Maintaining Your Sex Drive During Menopause
- Great Sex Positions for Women at Menopause
- A Husband’s Guide to Great Sex After Menopause
Estrogen therapy (ET) is available for women to treat symptoms of menopause, although due to some health risks , not all women choose to take estrogen therapy. Estrogen, in pill, patch, trandsdermal spray, or gel form; is the single most effective therapy for troubling symptoms of menopause. Because ET alone can cause uterine cancer (endomketrial cancer), a progestin drug is typically given together with estrogen in women who have a uterus (those who have not undergone a hysterectomy) to eliminate this increased risk. Hormone therapy has been shown to have other risks, including small but significant risks of stroke and heart disease. Because of these risks, women who have no major menopausal symptoms may choose to avoid hormone therapy (HT) altogether. Most doctors agree that hormone therapy, when used for symptoms of menopause, should be used in the lowest effective dose and for the shortest time period of time possible.
Or if you are like me and prefer the all natural way:
- 4 Natural Remedies for Treating Perimenopause
- Natural Treatment for Menopause
- Top Home Remedies for Perimenopause
While I opt out of any medical treatments and prefer to go it the natural route, every woman is different and I recommend discussing your symptoms with your doctor.
Rather than an ending, menopause should signify a new beginning in a woman’s life and opportunities for renewed intimacy. Don’t let menopause interrupt your sex life. you can feel confident about your feminine health throughout your menopausal journey.