One of the most natural processes an adult woman goes through is menopause. Menopause is a condition when a woman hasn’t had her period for a year. However, before a woman hits menopause, she experiences perimenopause, and the years after menopause is referred to as post-menopause.
The whole process of menopause can be a stressful time for the woman due to the symptoms related to it.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
The most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, sweating, blushing, sudden warmth in the upper body. The other common symptoms include insomnia, mood swings, headaches, joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue, increased heart rate, and increased irritability. Depression can have comorbidity, i.e. it can exist with menopause. These symptoms are considered the side effects of menopause as well since they can hurt the individual.
What are the sexual side effects of menopause?
One of the biggest side effects of menopause includes a change in libido, the sex drive. Menopause and sex are closely related due to the hormonal changes associated with menopause and the vaginal dryness experienced by the woman that increases the discomfort faced during vaginal intercourse. The lower levels of estrogen results in the vaginal tissue getting thinner as well as drier, which can make sex painful or uncomfortable. As a result, the woman experiencing menopause may feel less inclined to have intercourse than before due to the apprehension of pain or vaginal irritation.
Apart from vaginal discomfort, the change in hormonal levels can result in lesser arousal. The other side effects of menopause, such as fatigue and sleep problems may make a woman feel too tired to engage in sexual intercourse or even foreplay. Increased irritability and stress may lead to disinterest in sex.
Reduced or lack of interest in sex by itself is not a cause for concern. However, if the loss of interest is making you unhappy or affecting your relationship with your partner, then it is advisable to consult a gynaecologist and have a conversation with your partner regarding it.
Treating vaginal dryness caused by menopause
During sex, you can use a water-based vaginal lubricant that is readily available over-the-counter.
Certain over-the-counter vaginal moisturisers can also be used to reduce vaginal dryness. Based on the type of moisturiser you use, you may have to use it multiple times to effectively treat the dryness.
In case if severe vaginal dryness, your doctor may prescribe estrogen-based vaginal creams or estrogen tablets or rings which can be directly inserted into the vagina.
Talk to your doctor to understand which will be the best treatment for you.
It is important to be honest, and forthright with your partner about the physical, emotional, and sexual changes you are experiencing during perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Explain the symptoms of menopause to your partner and how it affects you. Be open to answering any questions they may have regarding menopause. These conversations can strengthen your relationship and help you both understand each other better.
Menopause, as well as sex, is natural. Thanks to various treatment options available today, you can decide how you wish to manage sex after menopause and lead a life that you want.