With Valentine’s Day coming up in a couple weeks, it’s natural to feel the pressure of making the day special.
But, for many of us experiencing the menopause, this can be a time when we feel the least ‘sexy’ and more alone than ever. This can be due to the loss of our libido, which is a common symptom of the menopause.
For me, the dent in my sex drive was one of the first things I noticed when I first started going through the menopause.
I went to my GP hoping for some support or understanding, but it was as if I was speaking another language to him.
I left his office with a prescription for anti-depressants, which didn’t really help. It wasn’t until my gynaecologist and friend Sara Matthews told me that a lot of the symptoms I spoke to her about; the sore joints, headaches, tender breasts and feelings of nausea, and the loss of libido, were all symptoms of the menopause.
A problem shared is a problem halved
What I wish I was told at the time, was that this loss of libido is completely common. Which is why my biggest piece of advice for all of you out there who are struggling is that you are not alone! In this society where the menopause still holds such a stigma, it is easy for many women to feel alienated and alone. It’s important to remember that while many women going through menopause may not experience this decrease libido, approximately 1 in 3 women do. Because of this, it’s vital if you are experiencing this symptom, to talk about it with your friends and with your family. I know that this is a topic that some may still find it uncomfortable to talk about. But, you might be surprised to find out your friends might be struggling with similar issues too. Just remember, communication is always key, and you might feel a lot better voicing your concerns out loud instead of bottling them all in.
If you do struggle with speaking out in real life, you can also reach out to the many other women in the MegsMenopause community on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and share your experience there.
Show Yourself Some Love
At this time of year, showing your significant other how much you love them seems to be the main message that is hammered home in every shop, advert and blog. But, I think it’s time we started to focus on showing ourselves this same love and care. Don’t feel pressured by society to be intimate with your partner if you don’t feel like it. Your dampened sex drive won’t be improved by you worrying about it. Instead, why don’t you treat yourself? Do some of the things that you enjoy. Draw yourself a nice hot bath, indulge yourself in some sweet treats, or watch your favourite movie.
Do whatever it is that you need to do in order to feel like your best self.
You might find that once you’re relaxed and happy, everything else will fall into place.
Be Patient with Yourself
For a lot of women who are experiencing a loss in their libido, it isn’t that they don’t want to have sex, but that they now struggle with getting aroused and reaching an orgasm. When I was younger, sex seemed a lot more straight forward. Before going through the menopause, just seeing something sexy, or thinking something sexy would be enough to get most women aroused. But that warm heat that comes with arousal can dampen when you start going through the menopause.
Many women may find that that despite wanting to have sex, this arousal no longer happens, or it is no longer the same as it was before the menopause happened. That’s most likely the biggest adjustment that women experience when it comes to loss of libido. It can become frustrating and disheartening having to handle these new changes. If this something you struggle with, try to have patience with yourself. Take things at your own pace and allow yourself to relax. Take time to get to know what works with your body and what doesn’t! You can do this by yourself, or even allow a partner to help. With enough time and patience, you can find a way to enjoy sex again.
Don’t Settle with Pain
Sex should never be uncomfortable. As our estrogen levels fall, our bodies start to feel drier. I for one suffer from dry eyes due to the menopause. Dryness can also affects our vaginas too. A lack of estrogen can make them thinner, tighter and less elastic. This can cause many women to suffer from irritation, burning and itching, and can generally put them off having sex. If this is an issue for you, try using a lubricant when having sex. I am currently working on some products that will help with this, such as an oil-based and water-based lubricant, and a vaginal moisturiser which might help with general irritation.
Another method you could try is putting more emphasis on foreplay. This will help give your body more time to get aroused, allowing for more natural lubrication and moisture. If you’re feeling more confident, you could also talk to your partner about experimenting with different positions that allow you to control the depth of penetration you receive. Communicate with your partner about what’s comfortable for you and work together to find a method that you’re both happy with.