How to Enjoy Sex after Menopause
12 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Women's Sexual Health
Menopause is a fact of life for every woman, although each woman goes through the process at a different age and with different levels of symptoms. The result, however, is the same for all. That result, however, absolutely does not have to include a lack of sex. Whether you are still looking for remedies for hot flashes or you’ve long since reached menopausal age, sex can be a healthy part of your life.
The downside of menopause: Vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness occurs when a woman’s body produces less of the hormone estrogen, which is needed to trigger vaginal lubrication. When vaginal lubrication lessens or stops altogether, the vagina becomes drier and less flexible. Intercourse is often painful. Painful intercourse can certainly put a complete halt to your sex life. But you have a simple and very effective solution: Use a lubricant.
Artificial lubricants: The vagina produces lubricants to make intercourse pain free. When a woman doesn’t produce enough natural lubrication, at any age, you can apply an artificial lubricant to allow for intercourse without vaginal irritation. The advantage of these store-bought lubricants is that they can be applied in greater quantity than the body can produce.
By replacing the natural lubricants that diminish as you age with artificial ones, you can maintain your usual sexual functioning. An older woman’s clitoris is still sensitive, she can still have orgasms, and she can have comfortable intercourse.
Hormone replacement therapy: You can relieve vaginal dryness by replacing the hormones that help lubricate the vagina through hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Using HRT to relieve vaginal dryness, the risks from a very small dose of a medication such as Vagifem (estradiol), a pill you insert directly into the vagina, are minimal. By maintaining natural lubrication, you don’t have to use additional lubrication, and your body lets your partner (and you) know that you’re aroused. But, because the findings from the medical community on this subject seem to change often, consult with your gynecologist, both about one of these low-dose products for restoring vaginal lubrication and about HRT in general.
The upsides of menopause: No periods, no pregnancy
Some women who don’t like to have sex during their periods or don’t want to risk having a baby welcome the onset of menopause. Here’s why:
A postmenopausal woman no longer has periods. Sex during your period certainly isn’t dangerous, but most couples tend to refrain from doing it during those few days, especially if the woman has cramps or headaches. With menstruation gone forever, you no longer have good days and bad days, so every day of the month is good for sex.
A postmenopausal woman can’t get pregnant. For many women, whether they use one or more methods of contraception, the risk of an unintended pregnancy does put somewhat of a damper on their enjoyment of sex. They may not realize it when they are young, but after the risk disappears, they suddenly blossom sexually.
You’re not considered to be menopausal until 12 months have passed since your last period. If you engage in unprotected sex before those 12 months are up, you risk becoming pregnant.