Menopause is a time in life when your hormones shift, usually in your 40s or 50s, and you stop getting your period. Some of these changes could make it harder for you to get in the mood to have sex. They could even make it harder to actually have sex. Know that you’re not alone. This happens to about half of people who are experiencing menopause. There are also plenty of things you can do to keep your sex life healthy and fun.
Will I still want to have sex after I go through menopause?
Menopause causes a drop in hormone estrogen, which may cause you to lose interest in sex, or make it harder for you to get aroused. If this is happening to you, ask your nurse or doctor (like the staff at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center) if hormone therapy could work for you. Hormone therapy works by replacing the hormones that your body stops making on its own.
Many people experiencing menopause may also have other health conditions that can make getting in the mood for sex challenging. Sometimes medicines you take for other issues, like high blood pressure, could affect your desire. Ask your nurse or doctor if your medicines are making it difficult to want to have sex, and see if they can help.
What other physical changes can affect my sex life?
That same drop in estrogen makes the lining of the walls of your vagina thinner and less stretchy. That can make your vagina drier, and also makes you more likely to get a urinary tract infection (UTI).
A dry vagina and a UTI can definitely make you feel uncomfortable, less interested in having sex, and can bring up feelings of frustration or stress — but know that this is common, and you’re not alone. When it comes to vaginal dryness, lube is your friend. Hormone therapies can also help with this, too.
Your changing hormones might also cause night sweats, which can disturb your sleep and drain you of the energy you need to have sex. You could also get depressed or anxious, which doesn’t make you feel sexy. If you’re depressed or anxious, you can talk with a therapist about what you’re experiencing, ask your doctor or nurse about medicines to improve your mood, or try alternative treatments like acupuncture.
What are other ways to improve my post-menopausal sex life?
Having a healthy sex life can be good for you both emotionally and physically. Sex can help you feel connected with another person, and sexual pleasure has lots of health benefits — whether you’re with a partner or not. When you have an orgasm, your body gives you a natural high. You release endorphins, which are hormones that block pain and make you feel good.
But as you age, it can take longer for blood to fill your genitals, which may make you less sensitive. You can experiment with more direct and increased stimulation, safe massage oils that can be warmed, or sex toys. Pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen the muscles that help you orgasm (they also help with incontinence). And having sex or masturbating regularly can help increase blood flow to your vagina, which can help keep your vagina healthy.
While we’re on the subject of partners, healthy communication is key. Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open with your partner! When our bodies change, we experience sex differently. So talk about it, try new things, and see what works for both of you!
Still have questions or want to make an appointment with a doctor or nurse? Contact the Planned Parenthood health center nearest to you.