Are you dealing with unpredictable mood swings and hot flashes? Welcome to menopause, lovely! Both during and after menopause many women suffer from vaginal dryness and low libido. When it comes to menopause and low libido, it may feel like you're out of control of your sexual experience. But, if you reframe your perspective, you get an opportunity to reinvent your sexuality. You can choose to perceive menopause in an entirely different way! You can make this time a thing of beauty, and we're going to tell you how.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when the fertility window closes.
Menopause officially begins when you haven't had a period for one calendar year. Most often, women experience menopause between the ages of 45-60. It will depend on how many eggs you had at birth.
Since you no longer have eggs, you'll also stop having your period. This causes a massive shift in the hormonal levels in your body leading to the symptoms common with menopause. These symptoms can vary between manageable and debilitating.
That dramatic shift in your sex hormone production causes the changes are the primary culprit behind vaginal dryness, libido loss, and mood swings.
Menopause and it symptoms do eventually end, don't worry. Your hormones will even out with time. But you can leverage this time of change to reinvent your sexuality.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
There are many symptoms of menopause that can cause daily life disruptions. They're similar to the symptoms of perimenopause. So you may have already been living with them for a few years.
Studies have shown that roughly 60% of women only experience mild to moderate symptoms. 20% have no symptoms at all, whereas 20% struggle with severe symptoms of menopause.
The signs and severity will vary from woman to woman throughout your menopausal journey.
Some of the most common symptoms you may have noticed are:
- Changes to your menstrual cycle
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Sleep disruptions or issues sleeping
- Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue or low energy
- Joint or muscle pain
- Sore or tender breasts
- Itchy, crawling, dry skin
- More severe symptoms of PMS
- Changes to vaginal discharge and lubrication
- Rapid and unpredictable mood changes in more situations than previously
While these symptoms may feel overwhelming, you're far from the first to live with them. There are a few medical options you can discuss with your doctor.
Medical options to help with menopause
If your symptoms interfere with your happiness, then you may want to see what your doctor can recommend.
Doctors can prescribe medications and treatments to help with vaginal dryness and low libido.
One of the most common options is a testosterone cream.
Testosterone plays a major role in your sexual drive and vaginal lubrication. During menopause, you'll have a decrease in testosterone levels leading to low libido and vaginal dryness. To combat this, your doctor can prescribe a testosterone cream to help manage these symptoms.
You also have the option of Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT.) These hormonal therapies can help replace your missing sexual hormones and manage symptoms.
MHTs are an excellent option for those who experience debilitating mood swings, insomnia, and hot flashes. But only your doctor can decide if this is a good treatment option for you.
In some cases, antidepressants are effective as well.
Looking for more natural ways to combat your menopausal symptoms? You can consider therapy, acupuncture, and various herbal remedies. Just make sure you consult with a medical professional before starting.
Tips for Living with Menopause
When you Google "menopause", dozens of articles will pop up with all the same information: eat healthy, exercise, sleep, etc.
But there is more than that.
We have a few less talked about options to help you manage the sexual side effects your menopausal journey.
Get some closure
For many women, menopause marks the end of their fertility, and they see this negatively. That's only natural; perhaps mourning for a short while isn't a bad idea. Waving goodbye to your childbearing years does deserve a moment of silence. But create closure when you're ready. Some women find it helpful to make a small ritual or have an event to bring this era of their life to a close.
Reframe your perspective of menopause
After you've finished mourning and are ready to move past the grief stage, it's time to look at yourself in a new light.
Just because you're no longer able to create life doesn't mean you can't make the best of your life.
It just means that sex and your sexual identity are different. It's a new phase where you can rediscover yourself as a sexual person! So devote a little time to building and exploring how you are as a sexual being.
Get outside support
This can be an emotional and confusing time. Getting professional support can be incredibly beneficial.
Perhaps a support group, therapist or sex coach can help you with this journey. Having someone there who is simply there to listen can be a wonderful feeling. You get to drop the pretense of social niceties and reflect on your journey. Therapy can be an incredibly freeing experience that could ultimately change your life after menopause. So get the support you deserve!
Experiment with lubricants & arousal oils
Yes, vaginal dryness is a big deal. It can make penetration unpleasant or even painful. While it's normal, there are a few steps you can take to help with lubrication:
- Spending more time on foreplay - 10-20 minutes of non-genital stimulation (kissing, cuddling, etc.) Then 10-20 minutes of external vulva stimulation (vibration, vulva massage, etc.) before penetration. Doing this can encourage vaginal lubricant production.
- Try a silicone-based lubricant - Like the Desire formula from Swiss Navy. It isn't sticky and can last for a long time while significantly reducing friction.
- Try an arousal oil - Options like the Sensuva On for Her formula. This clitoral stimulant can speed up the female erection process and heighten stimulation. Adding just a drop or two can make sex and masturbation far more pleasurable.
These are all helpful details you can keep in your back pocket for a rainy day. These inexpensive products can be the difference between unpleasant sex and fantastic sex!
Talk to your partner
If you're going through menopause with a partner's support, you must be on the same page. Especially if you're with a male-bodied partner, they may not know what you're going through.
When you feel ready, start a dialogue with your partner about the symptoms you're experiencing. Highlight that your hormones have led to diminished libido and vaginal dryness. He's likely worried it's him!
Experiment with masturbation and solo sex
You're entering a new phase of sexuality and sexual identity. So you get to experiment to find out what works well for you now!
Spend time and be curious about your body and the changes.
You may enjoy sexual pleasure from all kinds of new places! You may also find that masturbation is more pleasurable than partnered sex. So spend a lot of quality time masturbating with various implements. You can even try pleasure mapping, so it's easier to track these new pleasure points!
Menopause is a personal journey you can embrace with love if you choose to. It's all about self-care and reframing your menopausal experience.
Menopause marks the end of a woman's fertility journey, but it doesn't mean it's the end of your sex life. How you cope with menopause is ultimately up to you. Some helpful tips are:
- Getting closure
- Reframing your perspective on menopause
- Talking to your partner
- Getting support
- Being open to sexual changes
You can learn to accept and embrace this phase in your life as a sexual awakening. It's up to you!
Get out there, get in there, and get off there!
Elaine S. Turner
Clinical Sexologist | Sex, Dating, & Relationship Coach | Pleasure Product Guru
Follow on Instagram: @SexWithElaine