The findings were revealed by sex toy brand LELO, which carried out a survey among 4,000 UK respondents aged 18-65+.
“Common signs of the menopause include night sweats, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, and joint or muscle pain,” says gynaecologist for intimate wellbeing brand Intimina UK, Dr Shree Datta. “Vaginal atrophy can be caused by a drop in oestrogen levels, which can result in a variety of symptoms gradually developing over time. This includes the skin around the vaginal opening becoming irritated, sore or itchy. Sex may become uncomfortable and you may notice some bleeding, motivating many women to avoid penetrative sex.
“It’s also a time in many women’s lives when they are experiencing related symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats, insomnia, headaches and muscular aches and pains, all of which can detrimentally affect general wellbeing. This in turn can have a knock-on effect on sex lives and relationships.”
But, according to LELO’s sex and relationship expert Kate Moyle, there are ways to adjust your sex life to make it more comfortable for your body during and after this transitional period.
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Communication is key
“Communication is the best tool that you have to navigate any type of change in your sex life,” says Kate, “and although we can feel close to and in sync with our partners, they can never know what’s going through our heads unless we tell them explicitly.”
Lubricant can go a long way
“A good lubricant is a helping hand for any sex life,” says Kate. “Vaginal atrophy can mean a reduction in elasticity and increased vaginal dryness, so lubricant can help with creating a glide sensation, which will reduce friction and discomfort. It’s also a great addition for mutual or solo masturbation, and for clitoral stimulation.”
Masturbation could help
“Masturbation and orgasm have been recommended by some professionals as a way of increasing blood flow to the genitals, and keeping the tissue oxygenated,” advises Kate. “Sex toys can also be incorporated into this and vibrators have been shown to increase vascularity to the genitals.”
Pay attention to the whole body
“There are erogenous zones all over the body, and we don’t have to only pay attention to the genitals to experience sexual pleasure,’” says Kate. “Use it as an opportunity for you and your partner to explore each other’s bodies head to toe, playing with touch and massage and telling each other what you like and don’t like.”
Look after your body
“Acupuncture may help reduce hot flushes and night sweats,” advises Kate. “You might also benefit from strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, bowel and affect sexual function, by regularly doing Kegel exercises.”
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