Menopause is a stage that many women have to go through sooner or later. It ushers many changes to the mind and body, such as the end of fertility and decreased estrogen and progesterone. Menopause also affects your sexual health.
For example, hormonal changes, including lower estrogen levels, can lead to vaginal dryness and thinning. This can make penetration painful during sex and may turn women off from sex altogether. Despite these changes, women in menopause can stay sexually active and healthy. Because of the changes after menopause, there are a few things to consider to maintain sexual health.
Talk to Your Doctor
Many women fear talking to their doctors about sexual health. But if you are concerned about how your body is changing, your doctor can help you adjust to these changes and stay healthy
Knowing what to expect and what you can do to cope with the changes brought by menopause can alleviate your fear and anxiety. You’ll be in a better mental space, knowing that everything you’re going through is normal and there are healthy ways to deal with them.
Talk to your doctor about taking supplements for women and treatments for menopause symptoms and infections that crop up during this stage. Many women may experience yeast infections repeatedly after menopause. Your doctor can recommend over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections and tell you what you can do to prevent such infections.
Consider Hormone Therapy
Many menopause symptoms are treatable with hormones or alternative treatments. Estrogen therapy has been shown to have many health benefits in treating women going through menopause, including relief from hot flashes and vaginal dryness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Nausea, insomnia, headaches, and other symptoms can also improve with estrogen. Side effects are common, but they are generally mild and short-lived.
Estrogen therapy includes the following:
- Gel or patch form of estrogen that is applied to the skin. These are usually applied once a week. Examples include Premarin (estradiol) and Estrace Vaginal Cream (estradiol) and Climara (estradiol). These work by bypassing the pituitary gland in the brain.
- Taken by mouth in the form of a pill. The most common forms are conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) and CEE with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA). These are often prescribed when women have menopausal symptoms that don’t respond well to estrogen only. Side effects from these medications include nausea, headache, bloating, and breast tenderness.
Estrogen is an excellent option for relieving menopausal symptoms, but it can increase your risk of developing certain cancers. Alternate estrogen therapy is less expensive and may be safer. Examples of alternative therapies include bioidentical estrogen (estriol, estradiol) and phytoestrogens (in soy).
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Staying active, eating a well-balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress are all crucial for your overall well-being. If you’re not in a good place physically and mentally, you’re less likely to be sexually active as well.
After menopause, a woman can still get aroused and experience multiple orgasms just like before. However, they may be quicker to tire and do not have as much strength and stamina. Staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps you keep in shape to continue to have a fulfilling sexual life.
Communicate with Your Partner
Sex and intimacy require the work of two people. During this period, it helps to have the support and understanding of your partner. Many women experience anxiety and depression during menopause, and they may not be in a healthy mental space for sex and intimacy. However, both can help boost mood and alleviate anxiety and depression.
Talk to your partner about what you’re going through, and let them know how they can help. Being open with your partner can also help boost confidence and dispel doubts and fears about yourself.
Increase Activities That Promote Sexual Arousal
You might find it challenging to get in the mood after menopause. For many women in menopause, sexual arousal may not come as quickly or easily as it used to. Being conscious of this and shifting your mindset are the first steps. The next is to increase activities that promote sexual arousal proactively. Engage in intimate activities with your partner—go on romantic dates, surprise each other with gifts, and take long walks together.
You can also engage in activities that stimulate sexual arousal without a partner. Explore sex toys for self-stimulation, or consume erotic content or media. Finally, talk to a sex therapist about your struggles and get advice on maintaining your sexual health.
Sex and intimacy offer many benefits aside from the pleasure you get from the act. Both help boost mood, lower the risk of diseases, strengthen your relationship with your partner, and improve your overall well-being. Staying sexually active after menopause can help you age happier and healthier.