Hands up who’d like better sex after menopause? It’s something that we’re often asked: How can I improve my sex life after menopause? Does sex increase after menopause?
The good news is that there are many ways to have better sex after menopause. Vaginal dryness, fatigue, and a new Michelin tummy aren’t the sexiest bedfellows. But, as The Blow (he’ll be lucky) Monkeys sang, it doesn’t have to be this way.
We’ve looked at what the experts have to say, and at what hormonal changes are happening in menopause years. The good news about how to improve your sex life after menopause is that it is eminently doable.
Menopause and sex are two topics often discussed by our medical expert Dr Stephanie Goodwin. “Menopause can have a significant effect on people’s sex lives,” she says. “First of all there are the physical changes that take place. Vaginal dryness or soreness might make sex impossible. Urinary symptoms and recurrent infections might make you not want to have sex. Hot flushes and sweats at night; if you’re lying in a pool of sweat you might not necessarily want to get sweatier.
“Your libido can change, so the actual desire can change, so that’s often due to testosterone deficiency.”
Sex and menopause: What can be done to boost libido?
“To boost libido there are various things actually,” says Dr Steph. “Number one is to make sure that physically you feel ok. Obviously if you’ve got severe vaginal dryness or soreness, it doesn’t matter how much libido you have, if it’s very painful it’s not something you’re going to necessarily want to do.
“The other thing is that testosterone deficiency affects a lot of women after the menopause. Testosterone Replacement Therapy can be very helpful for women who have got lack of libido as part of their menopausal symptoms.
“I think when we talk about libido, it should be for everybody, it’s not just for people who have a partner. So if you don’t have a partner, don’t just park your libido, celebrate it. Go and buy yourself a vibrator ladies, everybody should have one.”
What are the health benefits of sex?
“There are health benefits to having sex,” confirms Dr Steph. “It’s good for your heart, it lowers your blood pressure, it helps you sleep, it boosts your immunity, it can help with vaginal dryness. So by increasing the blood flow to that part of your body, it can improve not only your vagina but also your bladder, so there can be improvements in pelvic floor health.
“Of course it’s good for relationships as well, to maintain that closeness between couples, if that’s what they want to do.”
So, if you’re inspired by Dr Steph’s words and want to do something to give your sex life a boost, here are a few ideas. Above all, remember to have fun.
ADJUST YOUR DIET
Christine DeLozier, author of Diet for Great Sex, explains how you can have sex on a plate. Ish.
“Increasing antioxidants in your diet will make sex way better,” she says, when asked how to improve your sex life. “Research has shown they speed nerve signals to and from our sex organs, meaning more pleasure when our partner touches us. They also luxuriate blood vessels: improving their elasticity for more blood flow. Women who have better blood flow have better lubrication and improved clitoral sensitivity. Antioxidants, abundant in fruit and vegetables, especially berries and leafy greens, will show your clitoris who’s boss.”
HAVE A HAPPY VAGINA
No joke. Mirelle Harris, sexual health nurse and host of the Broader View podcast, explains: “Yes, there’s an issue with libido and menopause – and vaginal atrophy and dryness – but older sex is great and, really, you have to use it or lose it. For that you need a healthy, happy vagina.
“Get a mirror and get to know your vagina. Thinning and shrinking of the tissues of the vulva and/or vagina – caused by oestrogen insufficiency – can make sex uncomfortable. Discuss oestrogen cream or HRT with your GP.
“Don’t confuse lubricants (that make sex more comfortable) with moisturisers that rehydrate vaginal tissues. And be careful with soaps and vaginal douching. They can cause dry vaginal skin and a change in the PH of your vagina. Water can suffice!”
Any exercise will help boost your libido and plays a key role in how to improve your sex life. Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins and pops out mood-lifting serotonin, too. So you’ll feel happier and more body-confident.
And pay attention to pelvic floor exercises. Leading intimate health expert Dr Shirin Lakhani of Elite Aesthetics, says, “Menopause can cause your pelvic floor muscles to weaken. These muscles support the pelvic organs – bladder, uterus and bowel – and a weakening of them can result in problems such as prolapse and incontinence.
“A fit and healthy pelvic floor plays an important part in your sex life because it allows you greater sensation during sex. It’s also been suggested that learning to squeeze the pelvic floor during sex contributes to your heightened sensation and pleasure, and your partner’s too.”
READ MORE Does menopause affect libido?
INVEST IN A SEX TOY
Probably invest in the award-winning Lora DiCarlo toys – especially their latest addition, Osé 2 – for they are something else. “Masturbation with a sex toy has many benefits,” says Lora DiCarlo, founder and CEO. “It can improve nerve-sensitivity, induce good sleep and strengthen pelvic floor muscles. It also releases ‘happy hormones’ that give you a mood boost.
“Using a sex toy can lead to higher levels of desire and arousal. It’s essentially a natural way to help kick-start your libido, with no side-effects.”
READ MORE The best sex toys for women over 40.
MAKE SEX A GRIND
Best-selling author Tracey Cox – her latest book Great Sex Starts at 50 is out now – describes the best sex position for midlifers. “Penetrative sex can be uncomfortable midlife because the drop in hormones means our genitals are less elastic and less lubricated. Lube is an essential,” she says. “So side-by-side ‘spoon’ positions work well because penetration is shallow.
“But it’s actually less about position and more about thrusting. Change the way he thrusts: ditch the old style where he pulls back and then plunges back in. Instead, keep your pelvises together and grind. This feels much better because the clitoris gets ‘pulled’.”
CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE
By which I mean, give sex all your attitude. I’ve written and broadcast about sex for years — so, today, I’m an expert. Does menopause affect libido? Yes. Does it have to ruin your sex life? No.
A study conducted by Lumen, the first dating app dedicated to the over-50s, said over a third of the overs were having the most adventurous sex of their lives. Why? Attitude. If I turn over during sex and my stomach hits the mattress a full three seconds before the rest of me does, I do not care. Because experience has taught me my beau doesn’t care either — and his focus is not there.
Sex in midlife can be anything you want it to be. If you’re not going to explore your sexuality – who you like, what you like, when you like it, how you like it – at this stage when you’re confident, assured and give few f*cks, when will you?