The menopause has many downsides - night sweats, insomnia and mood swings, but sex doesn’t have to be one of them....
We speak to consultant gynaecologist Miss Tania Adib about how to deal with the side effects of the menopause but still maintain a healthy sex life.
According to women’s intimate health specialists, MonaLisa Touch, many women are worried about the long-term impact vaginal dryness could have on their relationship, with half of women reporting to have less sex because of the condition, and 1 in 4 having stopped altogether due to vaginal pain and discomfort.
“With the menopause, the ovaries stop making oestrogen, which can cause your vagina to become dry and less elastic or ‘stretchy’. For many women, low doses of vaginal oestrogen therapy can help keep the lining of your vagina healthy and can be a useful treatment option,” reveals Tania.
“But regular vaginal sexual activity is important for vaginal health post-menopause because it stimulates blood flow, keeping your vaginal muscles toned and maintaining your vagina’s stretchiness.”
There are various safe, effective treatments available for vaginal dryness such as vaginal moisturisers and topical oestrogen creams that can provide relief.
Low libido may be the result of hormone imbalance and is often associated with other symptoms of the menopause such as night sweats, fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety.
“Vaginal dryness can be a factor of loss in libido because, as oestrogen levels fall, cells in the lining of the vagina may become thinner, tighter, drier, and therefore less elastic, making it painful to have sex.
“Some women worry about their sudden drop in sexual interest, but when you get your hormones back in balance, you can often find that there is an increase in sexual desire.”
There are numerous options that can help get your libido back, including oestrogen or testosterone therapy or using using lubrication during intercourse.
Being honest with your partner
Communication is the key here – your partner may not know the effects that the menopause will have on your sex life – so it’s important to be honest with him.
“Opening the door to honest dialogue can help put both of you at ease and understand the changes that are occurring in your body, ” says Tania.
“Find a time when both of you are relaxed and comfortable with each other to strike up the conversation. Then discuss your symptoms so they know how the menopause is affecting your day-to-day life.
“Try to help your partner understand which symptoms are the most frustrating to you and be sure to talk about anything that helps you feel better so your partner can be a part of the process as well.”