When you get a group of women together, we’re likely to discuss, well, just about everything. Up to and including our jobs, our partners, health, kids, politics, our favorite lipstick, and what’s for dinner. Curiously, what’s often still taboo is our sex lives – and how they’re changing as we get older.
But that doesn’t really make sense when women have so many questions about menopause, sex over 50, and what’s happening to our bodies. So, gentlemen, give us a minute because we ladies are going to chat. It’s time to ask-and answer-some of those questions it seems almost every woman has.
- I’ve heard so many different things about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that I’m confused. Is it safe? Is it not? What’s the deal?
HRT takes three general forms: high levels to reduce side effects of menopause like night sweats and mood swings, lower levels to help relieve vaginal dryness post-menopause, and hormone creams to assist with lubrication. The high levels that reduce the most unpleasant side effects of menopause have been linked to increased rates of heart disease, breast cancer, and other serious health conditions. The official line is that lower levels of HRT are safer, but it’s important to remember that they’re still the same hormones that are associated with health problems. As for topical creams, the jury is still out. They haven’t been available and in use long enough to have results from long-term use. When it comes time to decide between HRT and a more natural route, yes, you should talk to your doctor, but more importantly, do your own research. Weigh the risks and the benefits, and make the decision that’s right for you, not your doctor.
- So, I’ve done my research and I don’t want HRT! But the side effects of menopause are miserable. What else can be done?
There are several herbal remedies that have been shown to relieve some of the most debilitating side effects of menopause, like hot flashes, night sweats, stress, mood swings, and more. Individually, panax ginseng or black cohosh can be effective. Three that work well in combination are angelica gigas, cyanchum wilfordii, and phlomis umbrosa.
- Why does sex hurt so much now?
High levels of estrogen help with lubrication and vaginal health. As your levels of estrogen drop, you may be dealing with vaginal dryness and something called vaginal atrophy, or the thinning of the vaginal walls. Either of these can cause sex to be more painful. If you’re a woman who is dealing with both of them, it can be painful enough to kill your sex drive. Shop around and find a lubricant that you like. There are more options now than ever before, so finding one that feels good and helps increase pleasure is just a matter of trial and error. Stick with water-based lubricants if you’re still using condoms for any reason. Also, be willing to be more patient. Since it probably takes longer for your body to respond, you and your partner need to take things more slowly, too.
- My libido isn’t what it used to be. Is there anything I can do?
Absolutely! First and foremost, try to relax about it. That will, hopefully, alleviate a lot of the stress that’s making it harder to get in the mood. Focus on intimacy, more than the end results. Intercourse is great, but it’s not the only way to be intimate and sensual with each other. Get creative. If your old standbys aren’t working any longer, try new things. And most importantly, talk to your partner. Now’s definitely not the time to be growing apart from lack of communication.
- My sex life is better than ever. Is there something wrong with me?
Not at all! In fact, many women have this exact same experience. There’s something to be said for being older, more comfortable in your own skin, and more willing to ask for what you want. There’s no reason to be the least bit concerned. Just enjoy having your great sex life-and being the envy of your friends!