Hot, sweaty, and so very human. Menopause is a natural part of life for many folks with ovaries, and yet we rarely hear anything about having sex during this period. For whatever reason (likely our society’s obsession with youth) the world has deemed this crossover topic taboo. We’re here to unpack what happens during menopause, how it might affect our sex lives and how we can overcome symptoms (and societal judgment) to have some of the best sex of our lives.
What is menopause?
For the folks who haven’t feverishly Googled this at 3am (thanks, insomnia), menopause refers to the last or final menstrual period. During this time, folks with ovaries stop having periods due to the loss of ovarian follicles and ultimately stop producing oestrogen and progesterone in a cyclical fashion.
The perimenopause (transitional time before menopause to up-to one year after it begins) is usually when the fluctuations arise. During this time, people are likely to experience changes like: irregular periods, shorter cycles, aches and pains, fatigue, hot flushes and night sweats. While most ovary-owners will experience natural menopause (unprompted by other factors like chemotherapy), between the ages of 45 to 55, there is no way of predicting when it will begin or how long it will last.
How does menopause affect sex drive?
From hot flushes and sweats to sleeping difficulties, loss of libido and mood changes, a drop in oestrogen can have a dramatic effect on our bodies and minds – and in turn our sex lives. People experiencing menopause often notice that they’re not as easily aroused or interested in sex as they used to be, with a lack of genital sensitivity and lubrication being major contributing factors. It’s the ultimate mood-killer but there are plenty of ways to get back into the swing of things before, during and beyond menopause.
Fact: People that experience menopause still have a third of their lives to enjoy post-menopause.
And you better believe that sex is still on the cards as long as all parties are willing, enthusiastic and able. So, how do we overcome things like vaginal dryness, a loss of interest in sex or painful penetration? Glad you asked.
Tips and tools for better sex during (and after) menopause.
Lube is your new best friend. Whether you’re having sex, reconnecting with yourself or simply want a little more lubrication from time to time, products like Lucy Lube, Yes WB Organic Lubricant and Sliquid Satin Vaginal Water-Based Moisturiser are great for combatting dryness downstairs. Water-based lubes are lovely because they're formulated to mimic the body’s natural vaginal lubricant, while silicone-based lubes feel amazing, but tend to be incompatible with a number of toys. Always check before bringing silicone into the equation.
Protection. To prevent getting and spreading STDs, dams and condoms are still an important tool for safe sex during and after menopause. Especially, if you are still ovulating. If in doubt, please chat with your GP.
Oestrogen replacement. Research is still being completed in this area, but we’ve heard that it can help improve your sex drive and reduce vaginal dryness. Of course, please always refer to a health professional if you’re considering this treatment.
- Reference material. Consider including saucy books, videos or sexy audio stories into your sensual practice. Here are some of author, somatics coach and pleasure-educator Euphemia Russell’s favourite porn production houses. You’re welcome.
Experiment with toys. From vibrating pumps that draw blood to the entire vulva to suction toys perfect for bathtime, explore and create new pleasure pathways with these delightful devices.
- Create a dedicated pleasure practice with a partner. Read this story about Anna and Harry, a couple that undertook a sexual confidence experiment and reinvigorated their intimate relationship.
Why having sex post-menopause is also kinda badass
Ovary-owners have been fighting for permission to exist for a very long time, reclaiming the physical spaces we take up in the world through things like the body positivity movement. And now, we’re reclaiming the right to age naturally and normalise the effect that time has on our bodies. Continuing to pursue and celebrate our own pleasure as we mature is kind of radical, because society doesn’t want to hear about it. Despite what Big Advertising™ will have you believe, we exist long after they’ll cast us. And as long as we’re healthy, happy and open to rich, rewarding sex lives, we’re rebelling against yet another societal stigma that doesn’t serve us.