Not wanting to have sex is just a part of getting older right?
Well I disagree!
Who made the rules that sex stops when you get old? I still want to be having sex well into my old age, and menopause is certainly not going to stop me.
But what if the va-va-voom has gone from your relationship? It can feel really hard to rekindle intimacy when life is so busy… it is worth it though.
According to Saga.com, the most common divorce factors are still infidelity; emotional, physical or substance abuse; general incompatibility and growing apart. They say that in 2004, a US study into divorce in mid and later life found that one in four divorcees couldn’t identify any obvious problems – concluding they’d simply fallen out of love. Clearly couples who are divorcing are no longer having sex, but whether it’s a cause or a symptom, who knows for sure.
I suspect it’s a bit of both!
There is no doubt though that an absence of any physical intimacy is a red flag in your relationship that should not be ignored.
Men have viagra to help when they have erectile dysfunction, but for women it isn’t as simple.
I’ve pulled together a list of things to consider when you want to put the spice back into your relationship. The important thing is not to blame yourself, and not to suffer in silence. This is an important part of your overall health and wellbeing, and definitely needs attention like anything else, so speak to your doctor if you’re struggling.
This female hormone is incredibly important to your sex life. During the menopause, our blood levels of oestrogen drops and with this comes all the symptoms of menopause. Tiredness, dry vagina, hot flushes, brain fog, emotional irritability… none of this particularly makes you want to get it on. So do yourself a favour and speak to your GP about starting HRT.
Making sure you have topped up what you’ve lost can do wonders to help you feel back to “you” again.
Once your female hormones are topped up, you could then consider testosterone if your libido is still lacking. In the UK currently, this is the only medically-justified reason for prescribing testosterone to women, but things will change I’m sure. Testosterone, while a “male” hormone, plays a role in women’s bodies, if only in a small way. If you have low levels, that might be impacting on your libido and energy levels so it’s worth running it past your GP to see what they think.
You might find that they are not confident to prescribe it, so ask to be referred to a menopause specialist or book privately to see one and get advice ASAP.
Low oestrogen leads to dry vagina/vulval skin. Unfortunately as a result, many suffer with soreness so badly they can’t even wear tight trousers.
Fortunately HRT can go a long way to help this, but you may need to add in an oestrogen tablet or cream to your vagina to help. Your GP can prescribe this and it can be used alongside HRT. It’s safe for older women and those who would be traditionally excluded from oestrogen HRT because it doesn’t absorb into the body as HRT does (so technically vaginal oestrogen isn’t HRT). Many women experience a great relief when they start using it, so it’s well worth a trial.
When was the last time you had some “alone” time? Reconnecting with yourself can help to bring the feel of wanting sex back. This readers digest article cites 9 reasons why masterbation should be top of your to-do list, including that it helps your to get your libido back. Apparently, when you masterbate, you trigger pleasure centres in your brain, making it more likely that you’ll want to try again and again. It can also help intimacy with your partner. Why not try an evening of mutual masterbation without penetrative sex to get back on the proverbial horse again. You can show your partner what you like, and hopefully they’ll be keen to make you feel good.
I don’t just mean couples counselling, although this may well be what you both need. I also mean psychosexual counselling for you as an individual. Talking about what is going on might be the key to unlocking your libido, especially if you’ve tried all the physical suggestions. There are some NHS clinics around, but the waiting times are. depressingly long, so it’s worth considering a private therapist.
Address your relationship
Our body is very good at telling us when something is wrong, even if we don’t listen a lot of the time! If your libido has gone off, is it a sign that something isn’t right in your relationship? If you’ve just had a baby for example, are you factoring in “date nights” to rekindle the romance that inevitably gets lost when children come along. It’s a hard question to ask yourself, but it is worth exploring. It’s definitely not a subject to skim over. Address the problem before it gets worse.
Go through your medication list
Are you on medications that could be getting in the way of your libido? Common medications like those for mental health, hayfever and contraception could be worth reviewing with your GP. Just don’t stop anything without discussing it first!
Spice it up in the bedroom
Perhaps it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and try something new in the bedroom? Books like “50 shades of grey” have brought sex kink to a mainstream audience. However you feel about the quality of the writing, it undoubtably teaches the reader a thing or two about sex that is anything but vanilla. Now while you don’t have to suddenly turn your spare-room into a sex dungeon (you can if you want to of course!!), it might be worth exploring the aisles of Ann Summers or shop online on sites like love honey to try something new. Soft handcuffs, blindfolds and dressing up costumes could all help to get your libido back and spice it up in the bedroom.
Supplements, Moisturisers and Lubricants
Moistursers and Lubricants
Even if you are on optimum HRT and vaginal oestrogen, you still need to think about moisturisers and lubricants. We use moisturiser for our face, so why not for our vulvas and vaginas? There are loads of moisturisers to choose from, so give them all a go to find one that suits you. Don’t just use them for sex, use them all the time to gain the maximum benefit. Lubricants on the other hand should be used for sex (and with sex-toys if you’re flying solo), but go for water-based ones to avoid rotting condoms if you’re still needing to use them.
Supplements like Ginko Biloba and Ginseng are said to help with female libido, but the jury’s out still on whether they are effective. Don’t assume they are safe either. Herbs can interact with medications and cause side-effects like anything your GP prescribes you, so if you’re taking other things, check with a qualified herbalist first. If you choose to buy supplements from a health food shop, check that it has “THR” written on the bottle. This stands for traditional herbal registration and shows that it complies with quality standards. Avoid buying herbal supplements from unknown sources online.
Give yourself time
We can’t necessarily rush things! Just because a man can go from 0 to 60 in a few seconds, it doesn’t mean we can. Of course, sometimes we can, but mostly we need a bit of time to warm up. This means lots and lots of foreplay. Don’t try and squeeze sexy time into a 20 minute window – unless you’re super horny and ready to go, it is unlikely to be satisfying. If 20 minutes really is all you have, try spending the hours ahead of time sending cheeky messages to eachother to get your brain fired up first.
Take a load off your to-do list
If your head is full of everything you need to do, then of course you’re not going to feel like doing anything sexy! Who wants to get it on when they’re thinking of the tescos shop, the cleaning that needs doing and the project you have going on at work?!
For women, good sex starts in the brain. You need this to be onboard before your body can be onboard.
So take things off the “to-do” like – delete things off and delegate things to others. Allow yourself a few hours of no worries so your brain can focus on having sex.
So there you have it… my thoughts on putting the ooomph back in your sex life and things to try to get your libido back. Menopause does not need to spell the end of intimacy, and it’s worth spending some time on this. There is no need to suffer in silence.
Got anything else to add to the list? Comment below!
Dr Nikki x