Women going through perimenopause and menopause often experience a wide range of challenging symptoms. These symptoms can range from physical discomforts like hot flashes to mental health issues like depression or anxiety. There are medications out there that can help mitigate these symptoms, but we must not overlook some of the alternative approaches that also exist.
One tool that can help address symptoms is working to build a healthy sex life and having regular orgasms. Yep, you read that correctly! More orgasms might be the game-changer you need during menopause. Below we have commons questions and answers about sex and orgasms in perimenopause and menopause.
Question 1: Dip In Sex Drive
I am in perimenopause and have experienced a dramatic dip in my sex drive. I am just not interested, and I am worried that my partner is getting frustrated with me. Is this decline normal? And, is there anything that I can do?
Answer 1: It’s Natural...and Fixable!
Yes, a decline in sexual desire can be a natural part of your menopause journey. It happens because hormone levels change during this process, and our hormone levels (amongst other things) influence our sex drive. Some women actually report a surge in desire as their hormone levels fluctuate through the menopause transition, and no two women will have exactly the same experience with this part of their life.
As the menopause progresses, lower levels of estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, can mean that we simply may not have the same drive. This decline can also be driven by emotional changes that happen during our menopause journey. Many women report feeling stressed, anxious, and upset. And, this can definitely lead to a lack of interest in sex.
But, you should not despair! If your sexuality is important to you, then there are concrete things that can help boost your sex drive.
A first step may be chatting with your health care provider about these symptoms. They may have invaluable suggestions: hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help to stabilise and replace the levels of the natural hormones involved in both your sex drive, and your ability to feel arousal like you used to, or to climax. Systemic therapy, or simply estrogen creams and pessaries (or both!) may be the answer you are looking for to counter vaginal dryness and to get back on track with your sleep, mood, energy and sex drive. Often, as women age, they can experience vaginal dryness or atrophy. This can make sex extremely uncomfortable. Lubrication can definitely mitigate these symptoms, and can be used on its own, or in combination with estrogen cream from your doctor.
In addition, if the challenge is related to mental health issues, then your health care provider may be able to offer recommendations to address these issues, such as antidepressants or anxiety medications. Meeting with a qualified therapist is also good for helping you talk through these changes. And don’t forget to talk to your partner about how you are feeling.
Question 2: A Changing Body and Intimacy
I feel like my body has changed and become ‘softer’ during perimenopause. This is causing me to lose confidence. I’m now uncomfortable being intimate with my partner and having them see my ‘new’ body. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer #2: Communication...and Masturbate
The concern that you have is actually very common. Many women report that their self-confidence dips in their 40s and 50s as their bodies change. But, this dip does not need to be permanent. There are steps that you can take to boost your self-image and confidence.
First, make sure to have conversations with your partner. Maintaining a healthy and open dialogue is an important first step in addressing sexual challenges. Your partner can be a reassuring and compassionate voice for you during this journey. You may also want to shift your attention to more foreplay with your partner. This foreplay can help you develop body positivity, and spending more time on this part of sex can also help address lubrication challenges.
But, there are also steps that you can take on your own. If you’re comfortable to do so, it can really help to explore your own body and regularly masturbate.
Masturbation allows you to figure out, in a low-pressure way, what feels good for your changing body. You can then take these insights back to your partner and explore some of these techniques together. Use this time to experiment and expand your sexual toolbox. Go ahead and explore by introducing sex toys into your bedroom ritual. Vibrators are an especially great toy for women during this stage.
Question 3: Orgasms = Menopause Symptom Improvement?
I notice that on days when I orgasm that my menopause symptoms seem better. Is that coincidence? Or is there science behind my symptom improvement?
Answer #3: This Is How Orgasms Work
First, it is essential to remember that the science of female orgasm is a little complicated, and even medical doctors can’t for sure say what happens during one. What we do know is that during foreplay and then an orgasm, there is an increased flow of blood to the vagina. This also causes blood flow throughout the body to rise. This explains, at least in part, the flushed look that many people have after sex. Another benefit of this increased blood flow to the vagina is that it can also increase lubrication to the region, mitigating vaginal dryness.
But, that is not all that happens during an orgasm. During an orgasm, the body releases hormones, such as endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins are the same hormones that are responsible for a runner’s high. They make people feel happy, and they boost brain functioning, the same with serotonin. They are also the body’s natural painkiller, helping to blunt headache and menstrual cramp pain that can be so frustrating during perimenopause. Therefore, it is not surprising that someone struggling with their mental health may feel dramatically better after they orgasm, both physically and psychologically.
Better Sleep and Relaxation
There is one more benefit of orgasm that should not be overlooked. Orgasm helps many women sleep better. This is because orgasms release a flood of oxytocin and prolactin that help the body relax, and ultimately sleep. Oxytocin is also the bonding hormone, and helps us feel closer to our partners. Even if you’re too uncomfortable right now for penetrative sex, mutual masturbation before sleep can be great for your rest, and your relationship.
Be Patient and Learn Your Body
It is crucial, however, to be patient with the orgasm process. Sometimes women who are in perimenopause or menopause take longer to get aroused than their younger peers. In this case, slow and steady wins the orgasm race.
Also, many women find that it takes clitoral stimulation to successfully orgasm. This is actually the case in younger women too, but as we get older more of us lose the ability to climax from penetration alone. If this is something that has changed for you, it is important to communicate it to your partner. A vibrator is also an excellent tool to add in to make sure that this stimulation is happening.
As you probably already know, orgasms can be achieved in many ways, including through oral sex and masturbation. But, there are some additional benefits associated with orgasms via penetration. With appropriate lubrication, regular arousal can improve the health of the vaginal and clitoral tissues and this helps fight vaginal atrophy, making the tissues a little stronger and more flexible.
The Conclusion: Orgasm More
As the questions above illustrate, many women are concerned about the impact that perimenopause and menopause will have on their sexuality and sex life. Many of these women note that their libidos drop dramatically. This can be due to hormonal dips, or it can be a side effect of other troubling perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
Fortunately, there are ways to address this loss of sex drive successfully. Perimenopause and menopause do not need to mean the end of your active and vibrant sex life. Instead, it means thinking about sex creatively. In addition, if you do succeed with this creative approach, you may also find a dramatic improvement in some of your other perimenopause and menopause symptoms.