Yes, Sex After Menopause Is Still Possible
By: Joanna Smykowski
Updated February 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Deborah Horton
There are a lot of misconceptions about menopause and sex. You may have heard things like your libido drops as you get older, or that you have more difficulty with lubrication. The thing is, every woman is different, and so is every experience. While one woman may have difficulty with sex after menopause, another woman may notice no difference at all.
Menopause can happen at any age, though it's, of course, rare for a younger woman to go through it. If you're at an age where you're more likely to enter menopause - say, your mid-40s, early 50s - then you may be feeling apprehensive about whether you'll still be able to enjoy sex when it hits. You may have concerns like, what if I can no longer satisfy my husband? Or, what if I simply don't want to? Who can have sex when they're constantly irritable and experiencing hot flashes?
Symptoms Of Menopause
Every woman is different, and therefore so too are her menopause symptoms. However, some of the more common ones to look out for include:
- Vaginal dryness or pain
- Irritability and depression
- Decreased sex drive, or libido
- Difficulty becoming or remaining aroused
- Difficulty achieving orgasm, or orgasms that are more intense
- Increased incontinence and urinary tract infections
None of these things are very sexy, so it's understandable why menopause can take a toll on a woman's sex drive. However, all is not lost. The good news is that, either on your own or with the help of your doctor, many symptoms of menopause are fairly easy to overcome. And the best part? For most women, once menopause is over, so are the symptoms.
What follows are some tips for helping you get the most out of sex after menopause. If you haven't yet been through menopause, then these tips may help you feel better about preparing for it in advance. If you are already going through menopause, and you find you're having some trouble, then these tips may help you get back what you have been missing.
Tip #1: Use Lubrication, Even If You Don't Have Much Trouble
Lubrication is fantastic if you have trouble with dryness. It's also fantastic if you don't. Why? After having sex for a while, especially after you orgasm, you may notice that you begin to dry out. Using lubrication allows you to go for even longer than you normally would.
If you find that you tend to dry out faster in certain positions, lube can give you that extra bit of help so that you can have sex more adventurous. You can also use lube for massage, or even throughout the day if you find that dryness interferes with your normal activities. Simply put, lube is magical.
Tip #2: Experiment With Sex Toys
If you find that sex has become boring, especially after doing it so many years with the same person, then it's time to spice things up a bit. That's right - try things you would have normally blushed at ten years ago, like incorporating a sex toy into your endeavors. If you already use sex toys, try to go for something wild and crazy. For example, if vibrators or butt plugs are typically your toys of choice, why not try out a sex swing?
Menopause can suck the life out of an orgasm. It can either cause you to have less of them, or cause the ones you do have to be less intense. A bummer indeed. A toy may be able to stimulate you in ways that a penis or hand cannot so that when you then introduce a penis or hand, you can have those mind-blowing orgasms like you used to have in your younger days. So it's still possible - you just may need little extra help is all.
Tip #3: Do Your Kegels
Kegel exercises have been shown to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor. In layman's terms, this translates to mean that you will experience less incontinence (a trickle of pee when you laugh or a cough), and you will also reduce the chances of experiencing pain during sex - another unfortunately common side effect of menopause.
So, how do you do a Kegel exercise? Well, to start off, while you're urinating, try to hold the flow mid-stream. If you've successfully stopped the flow, then you've activated the correct muscles. Now, tighten those same muscles when you're not peeing, and you're doing Kegels correctly.
You should start by tightening and then contracting the muscles for about five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Do this about four or five times. You want to be able to work up to holding them for 10 seconds at a time, then relaxing for 10 seconds in between contractions. Be sure to breathe normally, and refrain from tightening other muscles, such as those in your abdomen, thighs, or butt. Ideally, you'll want to be doing three sets of 10 reps per day.
Tip #4: Don't Stress It
One of the largest killers of libido, and one of the biggest negative influences on how our bodies function, is stress. If you worry about how often you're having sex, or if you'll ever be able to experience "normal" sex again, then you will be doing yourself a disservice. If you're already experiencing dryness, for example, then worrying about it may cause your libido to drop because you're too stressed out to even think about having sex, let alone enjoying it.
Rather than worry about your sex life, take active steps to change it. Break out the sex toys and the lube, do your Kegels, and try picturing a steamy fantasy while you're with your partner. Don't feel guilty about fantasizing about someone else - it's completely healthy. (Just be careful about calling out the wrong name during sex!)
To every problem, there is a solution. Don't worry, be happy! You will eventually hit on what works for you. You just have to keep putting yourself out there and experimenting. Trial and error.
Tip #5: Consult With A Sex Therapist
If you find that everything you've done to your body hasn't helped, that you're still experiencing a lower libido, you may want to consider speaking with a sex therapist. A sex therapist can help you uncover what may be bothering you on a subconscious level that is preventing you from enjoying yourself to your fullest potential.
He or she can also offer additional tips on things to try in the bedroom, or perhaps even medical procedures like hormone or laser therapy, to get you back on the path to enjoying your time between the sheets.
Tip #6: Have Sex
Okay, this one may sound silly, but it's the best thing you can do: keep having sex. You may feel put off by sex, especially after a bad experience of two. But one of the best ways to lessen the effects of menopause is to have sex.
The vagina has muscles in it, just like any other part of your body. And the best way to get the most out of it is to exercise those muscles. With menopause, this may sound as appetizing as getting out there and doing actual exercise, but just like actual exercise, it is incredibly important to keep up with it if you want to see the best possible performance.
When you have sex often, you encourage the regular stimulation of blood flow to the vagina. This keeps the vagina's elasticity and depth intact, as well as the actual shape of the vagina. If dryness is the issue, and you find that lube just doesn't do the job, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend medicated or hormone-infused creams that can improve lubrication and reduce pain so that sex can once again become an enjoyable experience.
Your doctor can also help if it is negative emotions that are the problem. If you feel too irritated or depressed to have sex, your doctor can prescribe medications to improve your mood, which can also do wonders for your libido.
While the side effects of menopause are usually temporary, no one wants to be having sex difficulties for a period ofyears. (It typically takes about four years for menopausal symptoms to stop. You'll know you are "post-menopausal" when you haven't had your period for a year.)
You shouldn't feel like you have no control over whether menopause can ruin your sex life. There are several things you can try (things you do to your own body, things you have others do to your body, things you think of, or medical treatments) that can give you back the level of enjoyment that you experienced with sex when you were younger.
If you feel like you've tried everything, and you're still having difficulties with menopause after sex, consider reaching out to one of our BetterHelp counselors for more advice and information.