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There’s no question about it, menopause is a complicated and fairly misunderstood process. Sometimes referred to mysteriously as “the change,” menopause does involve a lot of change for women who experience it. But it is also a highly individual process that everyone experiences just a bit differently. This leads to a lot of confusion and misconceptions about what to expect before, during and after menopause.
One of the biggest areas of speculation is sex! There is a common misconception that going through menopause ruins a woman’s sex life, which simply isn’t true. Today we’re going to look at some of the most common menopause myths and what the reality is for women going through the change.
There is a common idea out there that menopause ruins sex for women, and it’s simply not true. Your attitudes and desire for physical interaction do not disappear simply because your periods stop. While hormonal changes may have an impact that needs to be addressed, every woman experiences menopause differently. Some women find sex to be more enjoyable after menopause because they are no longer worried about pregnancy. The freedom that comes along with this change leaves some women feeling empowered.
Throughout a woman’s life, her body’s hormonal production varies. During menopause, estrogen and progesterone can drop. These hormones regulate menstruation and play a role in energy, mood and sexual desire. Additional changes include a drop in testosterone, the combined effect of which can have an impact on your libido. The changes are not universal, and some women actually experienced increased sex drive while others notice a dip.
It’s true that hormonal changes have a direct impact on sex drive. This is the case at any age, not just menopause. But other than hormonal shifts, there are other factors that can lessen a woman’s desire for sex after menopause. Sexual desire is not solely a function of hormones; it is a complex process that includes emotional components. The stress of dealing with other symptoms of menopause can reduce sexual desire. Some women may feel conflicted about what it means to no longer have periods, or worry how their partner may feel about them and the changes they are going through.
Declining estrogen after menopause may create some unpleasant issues that lead to discomfort during sex. For most women this comes down to vaginal dryness which is generally related to reduced amounts of estrogen. Lower estrogen may also make the vagnia less flexible, which combined with dryness may lead to painful sex. Although this isn’t experienced by everyone, it is fairly common. Fortunately though, addressing shifting hormones and using lubrication is an effective solution.
Any time your hormones change, your body’s response can change as well. For some women, the changes in hormones after menopause can create vaginal dryness. In reality though, this can be an issue for women at any age. Stress, hormonal shifts related to pregnancy and childbirth, medications and other issues may all contribute to vaginagl dryness. Lack of arousal can also reduce vaginal moisture at any age. A doctor can help you address hormonal changes, but you can explore many solutions that increase lubrication. This includes topical creams that heighten arousal, which in turn, increase moisture and sexual response.
While it’s true that you don’t need birth control after menopause, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to use protection. Any time you have sexual intercouse, there is a risk of sexually transmitted diseases. This risk increases based on the number of sexual partners you may have. This means that using condoms after menopause is still necessary, especially if you are not in a monogamous relationship.
Unfortunately this is a pervasive myth that’s larger than just the topic of menopause. The idea that older men and women still have sexual desire seems to be at odds with some societal standards. While medical issues, changing bodies and even depression may leave many menopausal women thinking they are “too old for sex,” it’s simply not true. The desire for physical intimacy doesn’t disappear just because of age! As the topic of aging and sex, and body positivity become more common, hopefully this misconception will be put to bed once and for all.
8 Myths About Menopause, Susan Fishman, Healthgrades, 11/8/2020 accessed 08/22/2021
7 Myths About Sex After Menopause, Lynnette Sheppard, Healthline, 7/19/2018 accessed 08/22/2021
Sex and Menopause, Traci C Johnson MD, WebMD, 5/6/2021 accessed 08/22/2021
Does Menopause Affect Your Libido?, Healthline, 5/9/2017 accessed 08/22/2021
Sex After Menopause: The Psychological Factor, Andrea Peirce, Everyday Health, 2/17/2021 accessed 08/22/2021
Menopause: When Sex Hurts, Traci C. Johnson MD, WebMD, 5/29/2020 accessed 08/22/2021
Vaginal Dryness, Women’s Health Concern, September 2020 accessed 08/22/2021
5 Menopause Myths Debunked, Women’s Care Staff for Women’s Care, accessed 08/22/2021
STDs and Menopause: What You Need To Know, Sheryl Kraft for HealthyWomen, 5/3/2019 accessed 08/22/2021
7 Tips for Better Sex After 50, Compass for WebMD, Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian MD, 11/11/2020 accessed 08/22/2021
Sexual Health and Aging: Keep The Passion Alive, Mayo Clinic Staff, Mayo Clinic, 10/01/2020 accessed 08/22/2021
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.