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Sexual wellbeing during the menopause

Sexual wellbeing during the menopause

In the years around menopause, you may experience changes in your sex life. Some women say they enjoy sex more. Other women find that they think about sex less often or don't enjoy it as much. Low hormone levels after menopause cause vaginal tissues to be thinner or drier. There are treatments to help your symptoms, and our guide can help.

What effects will the menopause have on my sex life?

Menopause may cause changes in your sex life, or you may not notice any changes at all. Here are some possible changes:

  • Lower hormones may lower your sex drive. It may take you longer to get aroused
  • Night sweats can disturb your sleep and make you tired
  • Emotional changes can make you feel stressed or irritable
  • Lower hormone levels can make your vaginal tissue drier and thinner. This condition, called vaginal atrophy, can make sex uncomfortable or painful

Being less interested in sex as you get older is not a medical condition that requires treatment. But if changes in your sexual health bother you, talk to your doctor or nurse about ways to help, such as treatments to relieve vaginal dryness. Read our article for more information about other menopause symptoms.

What can I do to improve my sexual health during the menopause?

You can take steps to improve your sexual health during perimenopause and throughout the menopause:

  1. Stay active: physical activity can boost your energy levels, lift your mood, and improve your body image. All of these can help increase your interest in sex
  2. Don’t smoke: cigarette smoking can reduce blood flow to the vagina and lower the effects of oestrogen. This can make it more difficult to get aroused
  3. Avoid drugs and alcohol: they can slow down how your body responds during intimacy
  4. Have sex more often: if you choose to have sex, it can increase blood flow to your vagina and help keep tissues healthy
  5. Allow time to become aroused during sex: moisture from being aroused protects tissues and makes sex more comfortable
  6. Practice pelvic floor exercises: these can increase blood flow to the vagina and strengthen the muscles involved in orgasm. Learn more about pelvic floor exercises
  7. Avoid products that irritate your vagina: bubble baths and strong soaps might cause irritation. See your doctor or nurse if you have vaginal itching or irritation as it may be a sign of infection
  8. Talk to your doctor or nurse about products to increase your sex drive if you’re bothered by a low level of interest in sex. Some women try products like pills or creams with the male hormone testosterone or similar products

Can I get pregnant during the menopause?

It’s possible to still get pregnant during perimenopause, so it’s recommended that you continue to use contraception until you’ve fully in menopause – having not had a period for 12 months.

There are several options available to you, including oral contraceptives, non-oral contraceptives such as injection or skin patch, inter-uterine devices (IUDs) such as the Mirena Coil and sterilisation. You should speak to your GP to discuss what’s best for you.

How can I treat vaginal dryness during the menopause?

For vaginal dryness that causes mild discomfort during sex:

  • Use an over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricant when you have sex
  • Try an over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer to help increase moisture. You may need to use it every few days
  • Consider MonaLisa Touch®, a low powered, non-hormonal laser procedure for uncomfortable vaginal symptoms, including vaginal dryness

For more severe vaginal dryness, your doctor might prescribe medicines that you put into your vagina to increase moisture and sensation. These may include:

  • Vaginal oestrogen creams
  • Oestrogen tablets or rings for insertion into the vagina
  • A non-hormonal medicine called ospemifene

Speak to our experts at Benenden Hospital

It’s important not to suffer in silence during the menopause. We’re experts in women’s health and offer a range of other private gynaecology services in a comfortable, discreet and reassuring environment in the heart of the Wealden countryside.

Contact our Private Patient team in confidence today via Livechat, by completing our online form or by calling 01580 363158.

Published on 23 June 2022