There’s a stigma around older people having sex, as if sex has an upper age limit. The reality is, tons of people will still have sex after menopause, or at least want to know what it would be like if they did. After all, your vagina and sexual desire doesn’t just disappear and render sex physically impossible as soon as you turn 50 or so.
Menopause is marked by having 12 straight months without a period. According to the NHS, it typically starts between the ages of 45 and 55 in the UK, with the average age around 51. However, it can sometimes happen earlier for some people. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common menopause symptoms are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. This new stage in life can feel disorientating and difficult at times, but it doesn’t have to kill your sex life.
So, here are some truths about sex after menopause:
Sex can be painful
Due to the loss of oestrogen in the body the vaginal tissue can become thinner and more delicate, which is a condition called vaginal atrophy. This can cause issues like pain, vaginal dryness, and urinary problems to crop up, and around half of postmenopausal people experience these symptoms. There are ways around this. Doctors can prescribe oestrogen supplementation and you can always use some lubrication
Let’s just put this out there. Lubrication is something everyone should be using no matter their age, for more pleasure during sex. But when you are dealing with vaginal dryness and discomfort, it can help you relax and feel pleasure.
If you are new to lube, it’s important to know that there are several types; silicone-based, oil-based, water-based, and hybrids. For women with sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid water-based lubricants as they can irritate the skin.
Menopause can have mental and emotional effects
Your hormones change after menopause, and this change can cause feelings of anxiety and depression. Lower oestrogen can also trigger hot flashes which make it difficult to sleep, leading to mood swings and increased anxiety. This, added with the distress over losing your period, and understandably you may not be in the mood for sex. Treat yourself kindly and acknowledge that changes take time for us to mentally overcome. If you are feeling down for more than two weeks, you may be depressed and we recommend talking to your doctor.
You can still get pregnant…
Because menopause is defined by a solid 12 months with a period, when you are premenopausal or moving into the menopausal stage, you period may disappear but then make a comeback. Whilst that doesn’t necessarily mean you have ovulated, it could mean that you have so you could potentially get pregnant. So if that is not an outcome you are wanting, best practice safe sex.
You can still have great sex!
Sexual satisfaction might increase once a person has been through menopause. There are a few reasons this might happen. Firstly, the worry of getting pregnant is no longer there. Secondly, people experience a increase in their sexual awareness of their bodies. And lastly, people may understand their bodies better, leading to more intense orgasms.
You might have lost interest in sex, and that’s fine too
With the change in hormones, whilst some may feel an increase in sexual desire others feel a decrease in their libido. A lowered libido isn’t anything to worry about, and is a common side effect of menopause. If you don’t have an interest in sex and the decrease in sexual desire doesn’t bother you then you may enjoy focusing more on just spending time with your partner, family or travelling.
If the decrease worries you then you can talk to your doctor, while also helping to increase the blood flow through exercise (which is an essential part of getting wet during sex)