Most women expect an irregular cycle, hot flashes, and mood swings to happen during perimenopause, but changes in your sex life may be surprising. You can do some things that may help you continue to enjoy sex for as long as you want, though.
Dr. Marsha Bornt and the staff at Apple Hill Gynecology know that menopause and all the changes that come with it can be disconcerting. You may have imagined that this stage of your life, usually free of many of the burdens of childcare and other such obligations, would be one of sexual enjoyment. The reality is that for many women, sex becomes less enjoyable — but it doesn’t have to.
Several different things happen during the period leading to menopause and in the years after. One of the most notable is that your body stops producing as much estrogen, and that can lead to changes in your vagina.
One of the most common problems post-menopausal women report is vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable or even painful. Sometimes using a lubricant can help, but in others a vaginal moisturizer is more appropriate.
Dr. Bornt may also recommend vaginal estrogen therapy, which involves using a cream that contains low levels of estrogen. Vaginal estrogen therapy carries fewer risks than hormone replacement therapy (HRT), so even if HRT isn’t appropriate for you, vaginal estrogen could be.
Another change, related to the lower estrogen level, is that there’s less blood supply to your vagina, which can lead to two different issues. First, the tissue becomes thinner and more fragile, and second, it may take longer for you to become aroused.
Various treatments can help with both problems. Medications can help thicken your vaginal tissue, and it may be helpful to know that sex increases blood flow, so having sex more often can keep your vagina healthy.
There are devices that can help with the arousal issue. Sometimes simply knowing that it may take longer is enough to help couples relax and take their time.
For some women, other symptoms of menopause lead to issues with sex. For example, you may not feel like having sex if you’re exhausted because you have insomnia or if you didn’t sleep well because you woke up drenched in sweat.
In some cases, treating the symptoms of menopause can improve your sex drive as well. If menopause is disrupting your life, talk to Dr. Bornt.
For many couples, less sex isn’t a problem. If you’re happy and enjoy other forms of intimacy, you may not need to worry about having sex less often. There’s no “normal” frequency for sex, so however often you and your partner enjoy sex is the right amount.
If your sex life is unsatisfactory and you suspect it’s because of menopause, talk to Dr. Bornt. There are many solutions depending on the exact cause of your problem. You may feel embarrassed discussing sex, but a healthy sex life is one facet of overall good health. Schedule your appointment today.