The Perimenopause Can Suck It series is one of the most popular on this site. I’d like to believe it’s because we’re all either on the crazy train or about to board. Either way, you can gain useful information within these posts to use when the the doors slam shut and there’s no getting off until you exit into Post-Menopause Land.
If you want to go back and start from the beginning, you can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five here.
Today, we’re gonna talk about sex and perimenopause. S-E-X.
While Part Four covered all the vagina-talk you could stand, with words like lube and latex thrown in for good measure, today we’re gonna talk about a waning libido.
I had the chance to speak to an OB/GYN doctor recently about perimenopause and sex-drive and she was a wealth of interesting observations gleaned throughout her career.
* More often than not, she has been asked by patients in their 50s how to tell their husbands they never want to have sex again.
WHAT? I asked her to clarify. Never? Never ever? She honestly had the saddest face I’ve seen on any of my doctors when she answered: Never again.
It’s not often that I am shocked into silence, but this was definitely one of them. Weren’t the years after entering menopause supposed to free women to enjoy their sex lives without fear of pregnancy? Weren’t the later years, sans kids in their house, supposed to be the years of sex on the couch, sex in the guest room (sorry for those of you who visit…eep!), sex on the kitchen floor (not really. that’s some hard tile, y’all!)? Sex, sex, sex! Right? Anyone else floored by the doc’s statement?
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Women wait for this particular freedom, many of us have spent hours fantasizing about it…when the kids are grown…when I no longer have to worry about pregnancy… and she was telling me that once we get through the toughest parts of our lives, some no longer want sex, ever again?!
It didn’t make sense to me, so I sat there with my mouth hanging open, thinking about why the divorce rates among the 50 and over crowd suddenly made more sense.
A study entitled The Gray Divorce Revolution gave us this stat: The divorce rates among adults ages 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010.
I am not trying to imply sex alone is the cause, merely making the connection that women deciding that they were done with sex, without spousal communication, could be a contributing factor.
* Sex can be painful after menopause because of hormonal shifts.
Dips in estrogen or progesterone cause dryness and thinning of the vaginal wall. This is where lubes come in (part four…seriously, go read it) and can be extremely helpful in a woman’s continuing quest for a healthy post-menopausal sex life.
Cliff Notes on the dryness cycle lube can help break: By now, many of us are aware that as we enter and traverse perimenopause, our estrogen levels are decreasing. Less estrogen = a drying effect south of the border, er, in our vaginas. Less moisture in our vaginas = sex is gonna hurt. Sex is gonna hurt = excuses not to have sex. No sex = stupid vagina.
Testosterone levels also wane during this time, which we all know by now is tied to libido. What you may not know is that it also causes decreased energy (not tonight, dear) and the loss of your sense of well-being (not tonight dear, I don’t feel pretty/happy/sexy/well).
For some women the loss is so great that they actually find sex repulsive, in much the same way as they felt before puberty. (source)
Oh, man. Time to get yourself to a doc and see if they can help with that (they can…”YAY!” said every man ever.)
My doc advised that most women choose to go on some sort of hormone replacement therapy. Some HRT meds are topical (directly placed on the vagina) and some are taken by mouth.
When I told her that I planned on going drug-free, she said with a straight face, “I’ll pray for you.”
That can’t be good.
* Communication is key. My doc advised that her experience in advising women to speak frankly with their husbands/partners about their needs and the changes taking place were met with resistance. Many women are simply too embarrassed.
Again, I was almost rendered speechless. Ladies! We are the talkers of the genders (for the most part). We are the keepers of all things healthy for our families. Shouldn’t that same care be extended towards yourself?
Do you want to continue a healthy sex life, yet are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted? TELL YOUR HUSBAND!
Do you wish you wanted sex, but feel like those days are over? TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!
Do you feel like you were sold a bill of goods about sex later in life that you’ll never get to enjoy? TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR AND HUSBAND!
It’s my experience that Husbands want what’s best for the wonderful gals they married. They don’t want to feel like they’re forcing themselves on you, but, listen carefully: THEY STILL WANT SEX. Unless they don’t, which would put them in the minority.
My point here is talk to someone. Perimenopause is a time in your life, a phase. It. Will. Pass.
There are days now when Husband walks through the front door at the end of the day and I advise him not to get in my way. Whether or not I’m experiencing crashing fatigue, rage or simply don’t want him touching me, he knows not to push the issue. We’ve come to an agreement: He heeds to the words I’m saying and gets to keep his limbs.
Usually, by the next day, all is well again and we have a good laugh.
Communication is key.
* There is a wealth of information available and my doc encourages all of her patients to educate themselves. Knowledge is power and all that jazz!
Yep. Lots of information. Some docs say too much information, or that the quality lacks. Some say to stay off the Internet. Some encourage our search. But, how do you know what to take and what to leave?
Personally, I look for annotated info. Look for links to trusted sources. If something seems too good/bad to be true, trust your gut and then research the subject yourself. If many sources are leading you in the same direction, it’s a good guess that info is sound.
One thing I love to do is torture my docs. I’ll do my research then take it along with me to my visits. I let them give me a lowdown on what to pursue further or what to chuck. So far, they’ve been willing participants in my goal to fill my brain with the good stuff.
Good to remember: Perimenopause is not a disease; it’s a natural step in every women’s journey.
* Tricks of the trade for a waning libido.
Oh, momma! Let’s get tricky!
~ Set the mood. Ugh, I hate this one. Everyone wants sex to happen organically, right? But, you gotta work with what you gots, momma! So, if preparing a romantic spot with soft lighting and music, maybe a glass of wine and some chocolate, is what’s called for…get to dimming those bulbs!
~ Role Playing. I’ll leave this one for you to discuss.
~ Try a different time of day. Men’s testosterone peaks in the morning, so….
~ Try something/somewhere new. Again, leaving this one to you.
~ Take a serious review of your health. Smoking, excessive drinking and weight gain are later-in-life sex killers. Maybe a collaborative get-fit routine or a let’s-stop-smoking campaign is just what you need to get started.
~ Get enough sleep.
~ Pay attention to your diet and eat with fueling your body in mind…with some wine and
whipped cream chocolates thrown in for good measure.
BONUS TIP: Strength training, in both men and women, is the most effective way to boost testosterone. All-natural solution, baby. Shall I repeat that?
This list is certainly not exhaustive and this article doesn’t take medical issues into account (men’s or women’s), but it’s a start for those of us who can be proactive.
Experiencing perimenopause doesn’t mean we have to interpret it as the end of our fulfilling sex lives. We are women, dadgumit. We’re fighters and warriors and sexy mommas. Let’s not give up in the face of crashing fatigue and rage and a general sexual malaise. Instead, let’s look perimenopause in the eye and release our battle cry, “THAT’S ALL YOU GOT?!”
Perimenopause can suck it.
* Disclaimer: All information in this series is based on my personal experience and is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s advice.
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