Monday, September 5, 2011

16 Recommendations on How to Improve your Sex Life after Menopause

Some women falsely believe in the wide-spread misconception that menopause signals the end of their sex lives. Nothing could be further from the truth, and there are no reasons to believe that the sexual life is over. Yes, menopause means the end of female fertility, but, by no means, it is not the end of a woman being a sexual being that requires intimacy and affection. The simple biological and psychological fact of the matter is that female orgasm can be reached long after your menopause.

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Why sex life may be better after menopause?

There is absolutely no reason why a woman cannot continue to enjoy a happy and satisfying sex life during and after the menopause, if she wants to. There is overwhelming medical and statistical data that many women enjoy wonderful sex lives after they’ve passed the menopause – and continue to do so for a very long time. There is some factual evidence that:
  • Women who are interested in sex are more likely to be orgasmic after the menopause than younger females.
  • These women are also more likely to be multi-orgasmic!

There are multiple reasons for that, and we will just mention several of them:
  1. After the menopause many women are glad to be able to quit worrying about contraception.
  2. By the time they reach 50 or so, a lot of women have gained a great deal of love-making experience and skill.
  3. Very often, by the time menopause came, they have already steady, or not so steady, but in any case, quite experienced partners who actually know what they’re doing in bed!
  4. The kids are grown and out of the house, so lovers are thrilled that the empty nest has been reclaimed as their love nest.

Menopause can mean different things for different people. And while some may experience a decrease in sex drive, other women find that with the right mindset, their sex drive may actually increase. For some women, there is a burst of adrenaline that can encourage you to try new things, change your mindset and live through your 50s, 60s and beyond with vigor and an adventurous mindset.

In one of the recent studies performed by Christine Webber, it was conducted a survey among women aged 45-65. The findings showed that in that age group 26 per cent of women were definitely up for sex, while 29 per cent “quite liked it”. Only 6 per cent were not at all keen, and 16 per cent said that they’d be more interested if they had a new partner!

As stated by the National Institute of Health, some women actually feel liberated post-menopause, even reporting an increased interest in sex. In a 2000 study published in the “Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine,” 65 percent of women between the ages of 51 and 64, and 74 percent of women over 65 engage in sexual activity at least once a week!

The general concept confirmed by many researchers, is simple. The best predictor of having a good sex life after menopause is having a good sex life before menopause. Women who are happy with their premenopausal sex life are a lot more likely to be able to maintain that satisfaction post menopause.

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Sex life challenges after menopause

While there are reasons to claim that the sex life after menopause can be better, there are definitely some challenges on the way, mostly associated with general menopause symptoms, occasionally painful and inconvenient. We are reviewing the menopausal symptoms in other section of this blog, but here we will list some briefly, as they are directly related to the sex life:

  • Lack of desire. The simple fact of the matter is that libido can decrease incredibly with menopause. The hormonal changes that take place during this time of life tend to make sexual desire drop a whole lot.
  • Vaginal pain and dryness. When estrogen levels decrease, vaginal dryness is quite common. Unfortunately, this can lead to painful intercourse.
  • Weight gain. The weight gain that can sometimes go along with the menopausal stage might add to a feeling of lack of attractiveness.
  • Urinary Incontinence. Involuntary loss of urine can occur at any age but, after the age of sixty-five, 10 percent of the population experiences mild to severe leakage. There are different types of incontinence, but by far the most common in women is stress or “giggle” incontinence, in which sudden movements or vigorous activity—such as sex—can result in leaks. Urinary leaks can be disconcerting, and the possibility of this happening during sex can cause some women to avoid partner sex altogether.
  • Feeling changes. Arousal and orgasm might be harder to attain after menopause arrives. The hormonal changes are generally to blame for this.
  • Fatigue. Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings and irritability can all add up to fatigue. This can quite often add to a reduced sexual drive. Extremely tired people don't necessarily have the greatest interest in intercourse.

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How to enjoy your sex life after menopause?

While there are obstacles that stand in the way of having fulfilling sexual relationship after menopause, each of them can be overcome in one form or fashion. Women who want to enjoy normal sexual activity following menopause will find certain steps they take can help. These include:

1.       Letting go of the "taboo". Just because menopause has arrived, doesn't mean a sex life needs to be over. Couples can be and very likely should remain intimate. Unless there is a medical condition that prevents sexual activity, taboo need not apply here.
2.       Positive self-image. Women who work to retain their self-esteem and take menopause with the right attitude tend to do a bit better embracing sex after its arrival. It might take a little time to get used to the changes, but rest assured it can be done. The right attitude can go a long way in helping increase libido and arousal possibilities. You need to believe that you’re sexually desirable. Maintaining positive body image is a huge part of this.
3.       Engaging in healthy lifestyle. One of the best ways to amplify your libido is to work on your health first, which means increasing how much exercise you are getting. If you are unhealthy physically or emotionally, sex drive will certainly suffer. Having energy from a healthy diet and regular exercise, along with good sleep and mental health, are key ingredients in a healthy sex drive. Reduce alcohol consumption to the reasonable daily amount and stop smoking.

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4.       Alternative Medicines. In the case of herbal remedies, there are two types of herbs that can be used for treating loss of libido: phytoestrogenic and non-estrogenic herbs. Phytoestrogenic herbs (e.g. Black Cohosh) contain estrogenic components produced by plants. These herbs, at first, do treat the hormonal imbalance by introducing these plant-based estrogens into the body. However, as a result of adding outside hormones, a woman’s body may become less capable of producing estrogen on its own. This causes a further decrease of the body’s own hormone levels. By contrast, non-estrogenic herbs don't contain any estrogen. These herbs stimulate a woman’s hormone production by nourishing the pituitary and endocrine glands, causing them to more efficiently produce natural hormones. This ultimately results in balancing not only estrogen, but also testosterone. Non-estrogenic herbs (e.g. Macafem) can be considered the safest way to treat loss of libido naturally as the body creates its own hormones and doesn’t require any outside assistance.
5.       Compensating for the estrogen loss. Hormone replacement therapy may or may not be the answer, but there are other options, too. Lubricants can help with the pain and dryness. Kegel exercises are useful for helping the body retain its muscle tone and can even help in the production of natural lubricants. This helps not only with urge incontinence but also strengthens the muscles that support the pelvic organs. There are other more or less medically proven solutions to help with your hormonal misbalance:
·         Hormone Creams: Hormone creams that contain estrogen can be applied to the vagina in order to increase blood flow. This blood flow should allow for increased sensitivity and easier orgasm.
·         Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): HRT is still viewed by some professionals as the most successful menopause treatment. However, lately research has yielded conflicting results regarding its effectiveness. Estrogen can, however, make intercourse less painful by treating vaginal dryness and can help reduce other symptoms that may be complicating your sex life.
·         Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT): New research suggests that testosterone plays a major role in the female sex drive. A new testosterone patch has been shown to improve sex drive in women by up to 75%. This patch is not yet approved, but similar testosterone therapy is available. Side effects can include increased cancer risk, rapid hair growth, and a deepened voice.
6.       Educate yourself about your body. Educate yourself about your anatomy, sexual function, and the normal changes associated with aging, as well as sexual behaviors and responses. This may help you overcome your anxieties about sexual function and performance.
7.       Time for intimacy. Scheduling sex into your calendar may seem contrived and boring. But making intimacy a priority can help put your sex drive back on track.
8.       Touching and intimacy. After the menopause, touching and intimacy can sometimes become more important than the physical pleasure of penetrative sex. This need to touch and be touched, physically and emotionally, is well worth nurturing. Such contact offers reassurance and comfort and the opportunity to show tenderness, companionship and love.
9.       Communication. Talk to your partner and let him or her know about any issues or changes. Many lovers want to be supportive and in-the-know, but are often too shy to ask. Allow your partner to be part of the process, especially when it comes to your better sex efforts. Practice and experiment with more non-coital behaviors (physically stimulating activity that does not include intercourse), such as sensual massage, dancing, and sensual touching. These activities can be used to promote comfort and increase communication between you and your partner.
10.    Using erotic materials. Many sex therapists recommend the use of filmed or written erotica to encourage sexual interest, and erotic material is readily available for every taste and interest.
11.    Masturbation. Pleasuring yourself regularly can keep her vagina sexually “fit,” as in flexible and suppler. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles on a regular basis can further make for healthy muscle tone. Remember that it is a self-affirming sexual activity and is eminently useful in helping to discover different routes to sexual pleasure. In national studies, up to 40 percent of women report that they masturbate on a regular basis, but this incidence may be lower for older women. Many older women, raised in more conservative cultures, may remember being discouraged (or even punished) for masturbating as children, and may still be reluctant to engage in this pleasurable sexual activity. Ultrasound images have captured male and female fetuses masturbating in the uterus; these images confirm that masturbation is an innate and entirely normal part of sex!
12.    Clitoris stimulation. The majority of women over age 50, and many under 50, cannot climax with penile-vaginal lovemaking because the vagina is not the source of an orgasm, the clitoris is. It takes continual and prolonged stimulation of the clitoris for older women to achieve an orgasm. A vibrator can provide this stimulation if other techniques are not effective.
13.    Increased foreplay. Menopausal women might require extra stimulation to achieve arousal. Increased foreplay, cuddling and coaxing when mixed with proper lubricants can go a very long way. This can also help with the attainment of orgasm after menopause. The truth is achieving an orgasm might be harder than it once was, but it is not at all out of the question. Also, for many postmenopausal women, the fact that their husbands take longer to reach a climax becomes a bonus; it makes love-making far more enjoyable than when they were younger and everything seemed to be over in a matter of breathless seconds. This more prolonged love-making can provide time for both partners to explore new sensations and enjoy a variety of feelings.
14.    Experimenting. This may involve using a vibrator for more direct and intense stimulation to elevate arousal. Couples will also want to try positions offering greater comfort, like spooning, or ones where she’s more in charge, like woman-on-top.
15.    Having regular sex. Doing so helps to prevent the pain from thinning vaginal walls, which can become severe with menopause and aging.
16.    Getting engaged in couples’ therapy. If your sex life is not what you want it to be, get help from professionals. You might need to deal proactively with non-sexual social and relationship issues that may be negatively affecting your sexual health. Open dialogue with your partner, often guided by a therapist, can bring to the surface medical, psychological, and behavioral issues that might be contributing to the problem. Sex therapy sessions have to be attended by the couple for maximum benefits. They may significantly improve sex after menopause.

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