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Sex after the menopause

The menopause is a part of a woman’s life. Although most women don’t have to face this transitional period until their 40’s and 50’s, women who have a hysterectomy can expect to experience early menopause, with symptoms more severe than normal. During this time your ovaries will shut down, and you will no longer be able to conceive. Whether you are experiencing the menopause naturally or as a result of having a hysterectomy, one thing is for sure – this doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life.

Although some women will experience a number of symptoms, which may affect their sex life, some women will experience no symptoms at all, and continue to have a healthy and happy sex life.

menopause symptoms

Image: Jeanhailes.org.au

Here are some myths, facts and tips to help you out.

Vaginal dryness

Contrary to the myth, your vagina will not shrivel up or shrink, but it’s true that you may suffer from vaginal dryness. This is due to shifting hormones and a decrease in oestrogen. The vaginal walls may thin too leading to painful sex, which is undoubtedly will out you off sex.

Dr Ricciotti of Harvard Medical School suggests that having lots of sex as this increases blood flow to the vagina, but the best way to deal with vaginal dryness is to invest in a good lubricant. If it’s been a few years since you last tried one you may be surprised by the upturn in quality. Light, water-based lubricants are readily available in supermarkets – they are non-irritating sex life paramedics.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

According to Public Health England, and as seen in the map below, STIs in the over 50s are rising. It is therefore vital to remember that just because you may no longer require contraception, it doesn’t mean condoms are obsolete. STIs are common and the only way to prevent them is using barrier methods such as male condoms, female condoms and dental dams for oral sex.

sti growth over 45

Source: euroClinix UK

Always use barrier contraception with every partner you sleep with. If you have unprotected sex its worth going for a check-up. Some STIs have no symptoms in women such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Urinary tract infections differ from STIs, but the symptoms can be similar. It’s likely you’ve had one in the past so you’ll know cystitis is characterised by a burning sensation on urination (to put it mildly). You may pee blood or pus and have a temperature. Drink water to flush out the infection. You’ll need antibiotics if it won’t go. Urinary tract infections are more common after menopause because of the thinner vaginal walls.

Lack of body confidence

With menopause can come the nagging feeling that you may be past your prime and that you’re not as attractive or sexually appealing as younger women. This is nonsense. The menopause does not change who you are.

Smile, keep healthy and deal with the problems menopause throws at you. If you’re struggling with weight gain there are a number of things you can do to prevent it. Menopause can cause weight gain by interfering with your metabolism, but you can manage it by watching your food and alcohol intake and by getting regular exercise.

Lack of sex drive

Some women might find they simply don’t feel like sex. Indeed, a drop in sex drive is normal during menopause. On the other hand some women find their sex drive increases and this is considered normal too. It’s simply the luck of the draw with hormones.

If hormones are not too much of a problem a lack of self-confidence can cripple a sex drive. Your partner can support you by complementing and encouraging you to be confident. Exercise plays its role as well. A fit body and mind can overcome any psychological doubts you may harbour about your sex appeal.

How to help your sex life after menopause

Natural ways to support your sex life include using lubricants, keeping your weight under control, staying close to your partner with plenty of physical contact and by exercising regularly. Many women opt for HRT, which can certainly help with symptoms such as a dry vagina, hot flushes and mood swings.

Introducing some variety to the bedroom can help boost a flagging sex life too. It’s easy to become ‘lazy’ with each other particular if you’ve been together a long time. Jazz up your sex life by having sex in the kitchen, outside, introducing sex toys or talking about fantasies. Talk about what you’d both like to do.

If your children have moved out or you’re in a new relationship then you may have more time for a relationship. Don’t let menopause prevent you enjoying sex; just make sure you’re protected from STIs by wearing a condom. Remember there’s no age limit for sex – and menopause is no barrier to a healthy, loving, sexually fulfilling relationship.

(This is an information post written by the lovely people over at euroClinix UK)

8 thoughts on “Sex after the menopause

  1. Hello, I started the Menopause 5 years prior, was on H:R.T. now take only Thyroid medication. The sweating is less frequent, so can cope with that. What is more worrying is the tiredness, despite being physically active, and watching my Diet. I work part-time, yes my job is quite physical, but it wears me out now. I had a Total Hysterectomy in January this year. It took 3 months before I was physically ready to resume Sex with my husband, in the beginning it was really uncomfortable and sometimes painful, even leading to some slight bleeding. I reported this to my Doctor who examined me and advised to take things gently. But recently, the bleeding has resumed, not much but enough to worry us both. Is this normal or has my Vagina been shortened “too much” and/or could it be scar tissue not healing? My Sex life has decreased dramatically anyway, is it a question maybe of not enough practice and the Vagina being too tight? Am considering returning to see my Doctor would that be the best thing?

  2. Hi I am Rosie I had my hysto back in 2010 in sept I had it by a lapascopic surgery due to my age at the time they left my ovaries behind, even though I asked them to remove them, at the time of my hysto I was just 27, I am now 33 and I am going through the menopause , I am taking HRT (elleste solo 5mg) but I am having really problem with tummy cramps , lack of sex drive, dryness, and this may sound really odd, I never had it before but when I do orgams for some reason I burst into tears and I don’t know why my poor husband thinks he has hurt me, but I can’t talk for about ten mins does anybody have any ideas, cuz it is stopping me from having sex.
    I used to be a little niff as my hubby said but now we are lucky to have sex once every two months , when we used to have sex three times a day . Please please help , I am so scared I will lose my husband if I can sort this out , I have two failed marriages already I can’t have another one

    1. Hi
      I had my partial hysto in 2014 and in Febuary this year they removed my overies . I’m am now 37 . I feel exactly the same as you and are experiencing the same feelings , my relationship is falling to pieces , and I can’t find the words to safe it .

  3. I had a hysterectomy and bilateral oopherectomy 4 years ago at 48 due to ovarian cancer scare, which was thankfully unfounded. No HRT given despite the fact my menstrual cycle had been regular to then. Total nightmare: surgical menopause which left me doubting my sanity and post-op complications. I have zilch sex-drive now and suffer pain, dryness and discomfort. I wish I’d never gone to the GP with the pain I had in my side and left well alone.
    So glad to hear other people are having a great time with no problems but not my experience.

    1. Hello Maddie, like you I have undergone a TAH with Bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy due to an ovarian cancer scare. Like you, thankfully it was a rare benign tumour, which presents as ovarian cancer. I am now 4 months post op and trying to manage the menopausal symptoms on my own. I was advised to refrain from intercourse for 4 months, which I have done. Our first attempt was uncomfortable, which I was expecting, but our second attempt was much easier, though I did experience pain afterwards for several hours. My biggest difference has been the change in my orgasms. What I would describe as going from a champagne bottle opening up to now feeling like a can of coke being opened. The intensity is so different. Have you experienced this? or has any other ladies experienced this? I did read somewhere that part of our orgasms come from the muscles in our uterus, which would explain how if we don’t have a uterus, it would feel differently.

  4. I have always had a healthy sex life. As I have gotten older I have worried about menopause and my sex drive decreasing. I am just in the beginning of menopause and so far I have experienced no difference. It is good to see that I may not have to lose my sex drive. It is also nice to see other women talking about enjoying sex at an older age. Thank You for this discussion.

    1. I wanted to add that I am 53 years old.

  5. I’m 48 and had an emergency hysterectomy 20 months ago after years of debilitating endometriosis and anaemia. Too my great surprise my sex drive, enjoyment of sex and ermm lubrication have massively increased! Maybe it’s because there’s no more discomfort, or risk of bleeding. I didn’t have an oophrectomy, but don’t have anymore discernible menopause symptoms (I was experiencing night sweats for about two years prior to the op). I guess I’m just saying your sex life can improve rather than diminishing.

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