As women we know that there are different changes and phases in life that bring with them some significant changes. These more often than not have hormones involved. Two that come to mind and we get taught a little about are puberty/periods and pregnancy. What we don’t get taught about these we can usually find decent resources to educate ourselves. Two others that we don’t get taught much about are peri-menopause & menopause. These two phases we don’t get taught about, even when we are going through them we struggle to find decent resources, information, products and even at times care. Any of these in the context of sexuality is pretty much the same, some we are seeing more information available and for others like menopause we are still pretty much in the dark.
The definition of Perimenopause means around menopause. It relates to the time leading up menopause, where you are getting some of the symptoms of menopause. For some women, that starts a year or 2 before menopause. But for others, changes start 10 years earlier, or even more (healthdirect.gov.au).
Premature menopause is when menopause occurs before the age of 40, it is also called Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). (https://ranzcog.edu.au)
The definition of menopause is when ovulation no longer occurs and production of oestrogen and progesterone ceases. The word “menopause” refers to the last or final menstrual period a woman experiences. When a woman has had no periods for 12 consecutive months she is considered to be “postmenopausal” (menopause.org.au).
Most women become menopausal between the ages of 45 and 60 with the average age for Australian and New Zealand women being 51 years of age. Even though we know that this as a women’s health issue and stage of their life, it still seems to be approached as a taboo subject especially when sexuality or intimacy is added to the conversation. (https://ranzcog.edu.au)
Time to share a little personal insight. I was menopausal at 35 years old. That means I have currently been menopausal for 10 years. You may have guessed that I wasn’t going to let my sex life fade at the age of 35, it is one of the reasons I because a sexologist. Care and information for women of any age going through perimenopause, menopause or post menopause needs to improve. The understanding of what it means for our health, our work and our relationships needs to improve. It is not something that we need to hide or ignore, it is another phase
Let me say that again - menopause is just another phase of a person's life; it's not the end, it doesn't have to be bad, it does not equal old, and culturally we should stop seeing as negative.
My personal experience of menopause was not great but for others it doesn’t have as large an impact. I am still learning about what it means for me in my life as I grow. I am not going to pretend to have all the answers for the 34 different symptoms. I can however share information about one of the most taboo parts of the next phase in life (professional knowledge with personal insights) – sexuality & intimacy.
- One of the best pieces of advice I can give as a professional is that it is important to keep masturbating. It is a way of keeping your vagina healthy and lubricated as well as keeping you sexually active. A common challenge of menopause is that it can be that it’s harder to reach orgasm and that this can be even harder if you haven’t experienced sexual pleasure for a while. Orgasms have other benefits such as the flood of dopamine and oxytocin to your brain activating a reward response and they make you feel good.
- The next would be lubricants are your friend at any time in life. They are a fool proof go to for increasing pleasure. During this next phase in life they are your best friend. When either masturbating or having penetrative sex lubricant plays an important role and an organic or water-based product such as Sliquid Satin is a good choice. Vaginal dryness which can make penetration uncomfortable is a common side effect of menopause, which is why lubricant is so important and helpful. A quality lubricant can safely and pleasurably replace the natural lubrication your body may not be producing as easily at this time, it can nourish/moisturise the sensitive tissue of the vulva and vagina. If you are sensitive it is a good idea to avoid anything scented or flavoured as some of the ingredients can feed bad bacteria in this area or cause irritation.
- Don’t forget that sex toys are a great add in during this time. If you are new to sex toys you may want to start with something simple like the Pom by Dame Products, Mimi Soft by JeJoue for clitoral stimulation or the stimulation of other erogenous zones. The Womanizer Premium is another elegant option for clitoral stimulation. You can use all of these solo or with a partner. We have a Menopause Friendly Collection and you may also find the Slim Line Collection useful.
- Foreplay and touch are an essential part of your sexual experience. Give yourself a bit more time if you are struggling to feel as aroused as you usual would. The hormonal changes in this next phase in life can impact your sexual arousal and desire, but as we know sexual desire is responsive and doesn't depend solely on hormone levels so give yourself an opportunity to experience pleasure and enjoy being sexual with a partner.
- Remember that sex is something that is pleasurable, that there is more to sex than just intercourse. Intercourse can create discomfort for many different reasons, at any age. If you do experience discomfort with intercourse but wish to continue a product such as the Ohnut can offer a soft-buffer that allows you to control the depth of penetration and can offer some relief from pain or discomfort.
Pleasure is your right, whatever age or phase of life. Where you start is not where your relationship with sex and pleasure has to end. No matter your age or phase in life, exploring you attitudes & beliefs about pleasure, desire & redefining what you believe sex to be can change things for the better. It is your choice
One last thing, contraception should not be ignored during his time, it does happen. Also safe sex is important at any age.
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