Perimenopause can be a confusing part of your life. Periods become irregular, mood swings become the norm, and you start to gain weight in surprising places. While these are part and parcel of the perimenopausal experience, there is one big question that women keep asking. Where has my sex drive gone? The truth about sex and perimenopause is that as your body's hormone levels decrease, your sex drive may also seem to disappear. Don't be alarmed by this. There are plenty of ways you can keep sex pleasurable and even desirable.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is pre-menopause. Your body is running out of eggs and your fertility window is closing. You still have some, but it's the period of a woman's life that leads into actual menopause. Menopause is when your ovaries run out of eggs, and you stop having your period.
Perimenopause often hits when you're between 45-55 years old and can last from 4-6 years. This window is shorter for some women, and for others, it can last up to ten years.
You'll stop producing as much oestrogen, and progesterone as your egg count drops. These are two hormones that are linked with both fertility and sex drive.
But due to your irregular periods, you'll also experience hormonal swings. These create many of the symptoms associated with perimenopause.
What are the symptoms of perimenopause?
Many of the symptoms of perimenopause are similar to menopausal symptoms. The severity will vary widely from person to person.
As many as 1 in 5 women will have symptoms that are so severe that they can impact their daily life.
If you're experiencing symptoms like these, you may be in the perimenopausal period of your life:
- Hot flushes/ hot flashes usually around your face and neck
- Low or diminished libido
- Headaches and migraines
- Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
- Mood swings and difficulty controlling your emotions
- Sore breasts
- Itchy or dry skin
- Sore or stiff muscles
- Weight gain despite not changing your lifestyle
- Vaginal dryness or painful penetration
Some lucky people won't experience many symptoms of perimenopause. Others may find these symptoms debilitating. The severity of your perimenopausal symptoms will depend mostly on your genetics and health history.
The truth about perimenopause and sex
You're here for the truth about perimenopause and sex. The truth is that perimenopause can negatively impact your sex life.
Because of the rapid changes to sex hormones, you may find that your libido wanes and doesn't seem to want to come back.
Luckily, you can do a few things to set things right again.
Tip #1: Mentally reframe your experience
90% of sex happens between your two ears, in your brain.
If you are concerned about perimenopause and experiencing frustration towards the changes, that's completely normal. But the biggest impact you can make on your sexual perimenopausal experience is how you view this change.
Try to see this as a turning point in your sex life. A moment where your relationship with yourself and your body changes for the better. It's an exciting time when you get to try new sensations and experiences, and you can take pleasure to new heights.
Treating perimenopause with optimistic curiosity can make the symptoms more manageable.
So rather than mourn the end of fertility, see it as a chance to build a new, healthier relationship with yourself and your sexuality.
Tip #2: Invest in high-quality lube
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause involves vaginal dryness. With less estrogen in your system, your body may produce less natural lubrication.
It's totally normal!
The easiest way to overcome vaginal dryness is by using silicone-based lubricants.
Why silicone-based lube?
Because it lasts much longer, further reduces friction, and isn't water-soluble. That means that even if you're having sex in the shower, this lube will keep working!
We suggest trying the silicone Desire formula from Swiss Navy. It isn't sticky and is made from the highest-grade silicone available. Using some of this, both externally and internally, will make for a much more pleasurable sexual experience.
You can also add Sensuva On female arousal oil to your sexual experience.
It's kind of like a vibrator without a vibrator.
It draws your body's attention to your clitoris almost immediately. It can be a powerful tool to help with clitoral erections! It can make arousal come faster and sex more pleasurable.
Tip #3: Experiment with your pleasure
You have the opportunity to rediscover yourself!
This really is a blessing in disguise.
When you explore your sexuality more, you'll take pleasure to new heights.
You may find that you enjoy external pleasure more than internal pleasure. Or vice versa. You may notice that your sensitive nipples make for powerful orgasm machines when they haven't in the past!
Capitalise on this experience by changing up your sex toy collection.
We strongly recommend starting with a navigational tool like the BMS Factory Palmpower body wand. That way, you can see which new areas in your body want to experience vibrations. You can also try the C-shaped couple's vibrator. One end goes into the vagina, while the other sits on the clitoris. Doing this may give you the dual sensations your body craves during sex.
While perimenopause may feel daunting at first, it's just a new chapter in the book of your life. So keep turning the pages and creating a story of self-love.
Tips to help cope with perimenopause
There is plenty of advice that can help you get through perimenopause. These are a few tips that can help you reach the other end of perimenopause as a supercharged sexual being.
Talk to your partner
If you're with a partner, they may not know what's happening with your body.
It would help if you didn't have to go through this alone. And he'll want to support you.
All you have to do is ask.
Explain to your partner what symptoms you're experiencing and what is happening with your body. When he knows why sex has become infrequent or stopped altogether, he may feel a sense of relief.
Tell him how he can support you through this time.
Be as specific as you can.
Maybe it's putting a bra in the freezer to help care for your sore breasts. Or you could create a safeword for when you're going through a mood swing, so your partner can give you space. Another great idea is to get him on board with the sexual experimentation!
Explaining how you experience pleasure may change could be exciting for both of you.
Physical exercise is not only about the health of your body but your mental well-being as well. When you exercise, you create surges of endorphins and feel-good chemicals. You can get these from something as simple as taking a walk in the evening after work!
If you have other friends going through perimenopause with you, make it a group activity!
Sleep and relax as much as possible
Yes, being told to relax is counterproductive. But the truth is that stress causes everything to go haywire. The first thing out the door when you're stressed out is your sex drive. So take active steps to reduce stress in your life.
Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Keep the room you're sleeping in cool and dark so that your sleep cycles are consistent.
Meditate before bed to switch your mind off and unwind a bit. You may find that once you're better rested that your sex drive starts to come back!
Perimenopause is a personal experience that varies between women. Be patient, find what works well for you, and stick to it!
The truth about sex and perimenopause is that it's a complicated relationship. While the hormones in your body are going haywire, you have to relearn what pleasure means to you. And that can be an exciting experience when you have the right mindset.
Keeping a few sex toys on your nightstand can also ensure that pleasure stays a priority throughout this experience.
Get out there, get in there, and get off there!
Elaine S. Turner
Clinical Sexologist | Sex, Dating, & Relationship Coach | Pleasure Product GuruFollow on Instagram: @SexWithElaine