Many of us would never expect the words “great sex” and “menopause” to appear in the same sentence. But I am here to tell you that it is indeed possible to have not just great sex, but the best sex of your life after menopause.
As an expert in female sexual medicine, people are often surprised to hear that such a field of medicine even exists. The lack of awareness around women’s sexual wellness extends to the medical community as well. OB-GYNs and nurse practitioners don’t receive much, if any, training in menopause or sexual pleasure during their time in residency or clinical rotations.
In my work, I see this gap in knowledge reflected on daily basis in the many women who don’t know who to discuss their sexual problems with and what questions to even ask. Worse yet, many believe that there’s simply nothing that can help them.
But the truth is that there is so much we can do to help our sex lives flourish in menopause. Just as we all expect to adjust the care of our other body parts as we age, we have to make changes to how we approach our sexual functioning as well. With the right upkeep and TLC, a satisfying menopausal sex life is yours for the taking.
Now, let’s get you prepared.
Get physically prepared.
Menopause is no excuse for your dry vagina. There, I said it.
You would never forgo moisturizing your face in menopause, and your vulva and vagina need that same love. The tissues around your vulva and vagina are often incredibly sensitive to the loss of hormones during menopause, and applying a topical moisturizer regularly (moisturizers are not the same as lube!) is a great place to start to prevent dryness from occurring in the first place.
Moisturizers not cutting it? Ask your provider for a local vaginal estrogen prescription. These are safe to use for basically everyone (yes, even women with a history of breast cancer) and can make a huge difference when applied to the vulva and vagina regularly. They not only help painful sex, but also improve urinary symptoms and lower your risk of UTIs and vaginal infections. Nothing kills good sex like a UTI, am I right? If systemic hormone replacement therapy is an option for you (I’m talking both estrogen and testosterone), it can be one of the best things you can do for your sexual functioning.
Here’s some additional food for thought for menopausal women in relationships with men who are struggling with their own mid-life sexual health issues: erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues can be an additional major roadblock to pleasure and lead to avoidance from both partners. A feeling of physical inadequacy due to natural changes in sexual functioning can often lead to shame, guilt, and tension. If you or your partner are struggling with physical symptoms of either menopause or andropause (male symptoms of declining testosterone), seeking a consultation with a hormonal health specialist should be your next move.
Get mentally prepared.
Sex can be just as much a mental exercise as a physical one. Women are often surprised to learn that their brain is their largest sex organ. This is clear as day when it comes to sexual desire. Whether or not you choose to take HRT, responsive desire is your ally. Our ability to get turned on does not work like a light switch. What that means is that you may need to invest some energy upfront in order to set yourself up for desire.
Planning on a date night tonight? Get your head in the game earlier that day by picking out a sexy outfit that excites you, and listen to an audio erotic story with your earbuds in as you make the bed. Light a candle or diffuse a calming essential oil that helps get you into a relaxed headspace. Charge your vibrator. Be your own hype woman and tell yourself how sexy you are. When the time comes, fully commit to it knowing that once you start all that hard work will pay off. If you have fun at the party, you will be much more likely to RSVP to the next one.
Get emotionally prepared.
We do not have to become unrecognizable to ourselves or to anyone else in order to feel good about having sex after 50. However, we may have to embrace getting a little uncomfortable as we expand our idea of what is possible for us sexually.
As women, we spend the majority of our younger years trying to fulfill the expectations of others. One of the best things about menopause is the opportunity to reclaim the power to please no one but ourselves. This can translate to new possibilities in the bedroom for women who are willing to expand the narrative around their own sexual pleasure. This sexual expansion can look like many different things: bringing a vibrator into partnered sex for the first time, trying a new arousal oil, spending alone time while finding new erogenous zones on your body…your sexual exploration is in your hands.
In the beginning, these changes may feel unnatural or even outrageous. Perhaps you are still in the process of gaining comfort in your changing menopausal body. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to become a sexual goddess overnight. Approach these sexual changes with a sense of humor and a low bar for success. The more you try, the easier it will get and the more fun you will have with it. If you’ve spent your life prioritizing the needs of others, your erotic brain that may be dormant. But she is ready to play.
Hopefully, this post has helped you feel a bit more convinced that great sex is possible after menopause. But if you are seeking additional ideas, I always encourage my patients to read as many books as they can on the subject (there are so many great options) or listen to a podcast if that’s more your jam. If you’re feeling extra excited, grab a mirror and learn the proper anatomy of your vulva.
Interested in personalized guidance on your sexual health and wellbeing? You can always schedule a sexual wellness visit with an Elektra provider to receive expert advice, tips, and product recommendations to get you smart about all things sex after menopause.