Sexual stimulation promotes vaginal elasticity and may promote improved sexual function in menopausal women, who typically experience declining vaginal elasticity
Sex is also likely to be different compared to the pre-menopausal period
Men with menopausal partners report feeling rejected and undesirable because their partners take longer to become aroused, feel less like having sex and produce less vaginal lubrication. Be aware that these changes are influenced by hormonal changes, which are beyond her control. Don’t feel personally threatened if she doesn’t want sex as often or doesn’t experience orgasm as intensely as she used to.
Encourage your partner to keep having sex. If she doesn’t want to have sex with you, she may still want to masturbate, but don’t be offended. Self–stimulation also helps improves vaginal elasticity, so her masturbating may ultimately improve your sex life!
The brain is an important sexual organ, and thinking about sex increases sexual desire. It’s therefore important for you and your partner to think about sex.
Don’t assume sex will happen. Menopausal women and their partners are usually busy with work, continuing parenting commitments, and new responsibilities such as caring for ageing parents. You may find that you are both simply too tired for sex when everything else is finished.
To overcome this problem, try to dedicate some special time for being together and being intimate. This may involve sex if you are in the mood. However, a special dinner, a moonlit walk in the park, a secluded picnic or a romantic massage might be more appropriate, particularly if her sexual symptoms are severe and she simply doesn’t feel like sex. Even when it doesn’t involve sex, spending time being intimate is a way in which you can show you partner that you want to be close, with or without intercourse.
Every couple’s sex life is different, and in the menopausal period, a couple’s sex life is also likely to differ from that of other couples. Don’t compare your sex life to the sex life of other couples, or to how you remember your early sex life. Each couple has different feelings, and what is right for one couple is not necessarily right for the next. Focus on what you and your partner want, and evaluate whether or not your sex life is satisfying in these terms.
In the peri-menopausal period – that is, the period in which women’s menstrual cycles are irregular but still occur – there’s still a risk of pregnancy. Most couples do not want to become pregnant at this time of life, and pregnancies in menopausal women carry a high risk of complications such as birth defects. It’s therefore important to avoid pregnancy.
You can play a role in helping your partner with contraception, for example by reminding her that she can still get pregnant, willingly using condoms, or exploring a range of contraceptive options which might be appropriate in the peri-menopausal period.
Although women no longer have to worry about conception once they have passed menopause, sexually transmitted infections still present a risk. As the post-menopausal vagina is more susceptible to trauma compared to pre-menopause, the risk of sexually transmitted infections may also increase.
You should play an active role in preventing sexually transmitted infections – this may be particularly important if you are in a casual relationship with a menopausal woman.
You can also provide support by accompanying her to the doctor. A health professional is your best source of advice about menopause and can also offer advice about a range of treatments which may be effective in relieving the symptoms of menopause, including sexual dysfunction. However, some women may not visit a doctor because they are afraid to discuss the symptoms or even because they are afraid to admit they are experiencing the symptoms and menopause.
Having trusting, understanding friends to talk to and who listen can be an important part of coping with menopause. Don’t be offended if your menopausal partner wants to talk to other friends – the more friends supporting her, the better.
You can help by reassuring her that the changes she is experiencing are normal, and encouraging her to be positive about her body. You can also reassure her by telling her that you still love her body, regardless of the outward changes.
While her satisfaction with her intimate relationship may also influence her sexual feelings, don’t assume that you are the source of her changing desires – if she is experiencing menopause, hormonal changes are likely to be contributing
Feelings of rejection or fear of causing your partner pain may also stop you from initiating sex, even if you feel like it. In these instances, it’s important for you to talk to your partner.