While menopause is a natural phase of a women’s life, its impact on sexual health and intimacy is not really spoken about. With World Contraception Day and Sexual Health Awareness Week both taking place in September, we want to shed light on the importance of discussing sexual health during menopause.
Menopause and sexual health
Menopause is driven by hormonal shifts, particularly a decline in oestrogen and progesterone levels. These changes can have a significant impact on sexual health as people going through the menopause commonly experience issues such as vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse (dyspareunia) and a decrease in libido (sex drive). These symptoms can be distressing and affect both physical and emotional well-being.
Overcoming challenges in relationships
Menopause affects sexual health in all intimate relationships and so communication is paramount. In relationships, partners should foster an environment of understanding, patience and exploration. Experimenting with new forms of intimacy can help maintain a fulfilling sex life.
Menopause can bring unique challenges to homosexual and queer relationships, especially if both partners are going through it simultaneously. Open dialogue, empathy and the willingness to adapt and explore new avenues of intimacy can strengthen these bonds.
For any individual, understanding the specific needs of your partner and maintaining open communication is key. Exploring intimacy without preconceived notions and stereotypes can lead to a more satisfying sexual experience during menopause.
Seeking professional support
Healthcare providers play a vital role in addressing sexual health concerns during menopause. Being open and honest with your doctor is essential for addressing these concerns and finding solutions that work for each individual, whether that be treatment options, therapies or resources tailored to improve sexual well-being during this phase. Options may include hormone therapy, lubricants, pelvic floor exercises and counselling to address psychological factors affecting sexual health.
Self-care and lifestyle recommendations
Libido is complex with other factors such as tiredness and stress playing a significant part. Hormones are only part of the picture. So, beyond professional support, lifestyle changes can positively impact sexual health during menopause. Regular exercise helps maintain blood flow and keeps the body agile. A balanced diet supports overall health, including sexual well-being. Stress management techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and relaxation exercises can alleviate anxiety that may affect sexual desire. Quality sleep is crucial for hormone regulation and overall vitality.
Menopause is a transformative phase that can significantly impact sexual health. We encourage everyone to prioritise their sexual health, seek professional support when needed and engage in open and inclusive conversations about sexual well-being. By embracing these discussions and taking proactive steps to address sexual health during menopause, individuals and their partners can navigate this phase with confidence, empowerment, and a renewed sense of intimacy.
If you’d like to discuss how Dr Lucy Joslin and our dedicated menopause clinic can help you, get in touch by calling 01481 237757.
Please also consider speaking to Relate Guernsey, who have counsellors and sex therapists who can help. Find out more on the website: https://relate.org.gg/