Sex, Menopause and Perimenopause

by WV Marshall

Age shouldn’t be a deal-breaker when considering whether to give in to sexual desires.

You’re older.

So what?

Does this mean your libido languishes?

Sexual feelings don’t go away with age.

They change; they don’t disappear.

Relationships in Midlife

Rather than put up with the idea that sexual encounters are not in the cards for the older you, the Mayo Clinic suggests that older couples, through communication and understanding, can unearth ways to enhance their mutual sexual experiences that are fulfilling and satisfying.

Just as with other aspects in a relationship, communication is vital to maintaining a satisfying sex life, Mayo researchers say.

While it could make you feel uncomfortable, have an honest, frank discussion with your partner about your views about making love, and tell your partner what you’re experiencing physically and emotionally.

Communication is Key

Voicing your needs and desires – and listening to your partner’s needs and desires as well – could lead to a richer, more fulfilling experience.

Remember, however, that pregnancy is still possible until women reached menopause – 12 consecutive months without a period.

If you’re sexually active during perimenopause, you still need to practice birth control consistently until that 12th period-less month.

Work with your healthcare provider to help determine which type of birth control is right for you.

**Sex and Menopause **

Another thing to remember is that as women approach menopause, estrogen levels drop, which could lead to vaginal dryness and slower sexual arousal, Mayo said.

Sexual appetites also may be triggered by emotional changes that bump up feelings of stress.

Also, while some women may feel freer sexually because they don’t have to worry about pregnancy, naturally occurring changes in body shape and size could cause others to feel less sexually desirable.

Aging process issues aren’t limited to women’s sexual health.

Sex and Andropause

For men, one big change is a decrease in the amount of testosterone, a key hormone in a man’s sexual experience, Mayo said.

Generally, older men tend to have lower testosterone levels than younger men.

The clinic said testosterone levels decrease at an average rate of about 1 percent each year after age 30.

Sex for older men also could be complicated by the penis possibly take longer to become erect and erections sometimes may not be as firm, Mayo said.

Also, full arousal, orgasm and ejaculation could take longer to achieve.

Erectile dysfunction is more common, although treatments are available to address ED.

Medical Conditions that Impact Sexual Health

Medical conditions also could affect your sexual health, Mayo noted.

Cardiovascular-related ailments –specifically the medications used to treat them – could inhibit how active you are sexually by dampening your sexual response.

If you think your medication is causing a less-than-desirable sexual side effect, discuss with your healthcare provider whether switching to a different medication with fewer effects on your libido is possible.

Of course, Mayo points out, partners can have differences in desire, no matter their ages.

Partners fall into a rut where one initiates a sexual encounter while the other avoids it.

“If you mainly avoid sex, consider taking charge of some engagement,” Mayo wrote. “If you usually initiate sex, try talking with your partner about what you need.”

Worried about hurting your partner’s feelings when voicing your desires?

Use “I” statements to get your point across, and try to understand your partner’s needs and desires, Mayo said.

By working together to understand each other, you can find ways accommodate each other’s feelings and experiences.

Books on how to maintain a healthy sex life as you get older are available, as are specialists in this field.

Your healthcare provider may be able to suggest an option in these areas.

You aren’t the same person you were in your 20s or 30s.

Neither is your libido.

Rather than sighing about sexual exploits of the past, celebrate your sexual prowess now by finding ways to heighten your body’s response and working with your partner to find a satisfying and mutually acceptable experience.

mySysters is an app for women in perimenopause and menopause. Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day named mySysters the Best App for Women in Perimenopause and a Must Have App for Women.

The preceding information does not constitute medical advice or treatment.