Sex and perimenopause
I'm loving how much media coverage we are seeing around menopause and perimenopause right now. I was very lucky to have many women friends a few years older than me - leading the way, sharing their learnings. Although, like many other women I often felt disenfranchised, without access to private medical care or time for complex health research. So I try and share as much as I can now with women heading into this life stage about what I've learned.
For many women, low libido is one of the menopausal issues they’re worried about the most. However, perimenopause can also cause high libido too, with our bodies going into its very own last chance saloon act. It's important to say too, that for many women, their sex drive doesn’t change that much at all during menopause.
No matter how you look at it, though, the stage leading up to full menopause can bring with it sexual issues. Vaginal dryness and being too tired are the main ones, I hear about. So, I thought it was time we talked about them a little and looked at the potential available solutions.
The issue of perimenopausal vaginal dryness
Changes in hormones can affect how much natural lubrication you produce. Vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy can affect perimenopausal women, making penetrative sex uncomfortable. Natural sexual lubricants make you wetter, ensuring sex is less friction and more enjoyment for both of you. It's such a shame many women see eating for the lube as some kind of weakness. It's not. Lube is your friend. Have it easily to hand and use it liberally. You also have the option of a variety of local vaginal HRT options too, don't be shy to discuss these options with your doctor.
When it comes to buying lubricants, you need to buy well. Not all are pH balanced to the pH levels of the vagina (3.8-4.5), which can upset the delicate balance of the vagina flora. Some water-based products, such as KY jelly, have a high osmolarity, which can irritate the vagina walls and exacerbate vaginal dryness, not ease it.
The organic intimacy company YES! are the best I've found. @yes_organics Check out their great, informative website to research and to buy pure, natural and organic lubricants. Also, check out Jo Divine @jo.divine for pH balanced lubricants, too - and if you want more information on using lubricants during sex, check out their article on the subject.
Tiredness and perimenopause
With so many changes going on in your body, it’s understandable that you’re going to be tired. Plus, this time of life can see us looking after parents or navigating life with teenage children. But sex doesn’t have to take a back seat.
The irony is that subtle, sensual, shared sexuality can be gentle, nourishing, and bring in more energy and vitality. Remember, sex is so much more than Penis In Vagina (PIV), and you can have lots of pleasure and the oxytocin highs pleasure brings without peneration. Some women report they find it a little harder to reach orgasm during menopause. Plus, there are also so many ways to feel close to your partner, many of which don’t necessarily include being sexual intimacy. I highly recommend Gina Ogden’s book ‘The Return of Desire’ if you’re looking to explore and reconnect with your sexual self.
Exercise can also help combat tiredness, increase your mood and help with your body condfidence. When we exercise we release endorphins, and these trigger positive emotions and reduce stress. If you've lost your way with exercise, you might like try a few new different activities, to find the one that most suits you - there are many supportive wild swimming groups, park runs and fitness in the park groups who are very supportive of beginners.
The healing power of connection
Sex and cuddles are both good for our nervous systems as they release oxytocin and boost feelings of contentment and relaxation. Sex is also our way of communicating our love and appreciation for a partner. Being willing to love them physically is a part of that appreciation. The most important thing is to lines of communication open with your partner. Let them know how you’re feeling and share fears and concerns.
Maybe this time of perimenopause could be the time to ask for some changes in your sex habits, what would you like more or less of? Would you like to slow down and enjoy an even more slow and sensitive connection than before? Is now the time to ask for that? Or maybe you want to try some new things, take a few more risks? Switch things up? Or, maybe your sex life won't change that much. If you had a good sex life before, there’s no reason for it to change after you enter perimenopause.
If you have questions about this transition and your love life and would like some support; you can find details of my Clarity Sessions and how to book them here.