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In a survey by the British Menopause Society, almost 4 in 10 (37%) of the women interviewed reported a loss of sex drive, but fewer than a third sought help even though it’s something that can cause distress and unhappiness. In this blog, sex and relationship exert Trudy Hannington discussed why we should prioritise sex, the most common sexual difficulties and their impact, and her tips for keeping sex alive in the menopause.
It’s often not seen as a priority or something not important enough to bother our GP with, yet we know sex is good for us:
And yet despite all the benefits, it is still not seen as a priority and women and their partners often suffer in silence.
The most common sexual difficulties for women during this period of their lives are loss of desire, painful sex and changes or absent orgasm.
These issues can significantly affect a relationship. Healthy relationships play a vital role in maintaining good sexual function – if you don’t get on in the living room, you’re less likely to get on in the bedroom!
The average life expectancy for women is 89 years . That’s a lot of years to still be sexual and a lot of years to hopefully enjoy good sex! So, whether you are flying solo or want to reignite your sex life read on!
We know that the better we feel, the more sexual we feel; quality of life and physical health are important factors in maintaining a good sex life and relationship harmony.
Sounds obvious, but start by taking good care of yourself.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial – sex is the last thing we want to do when we feel exhausted. Keeping fit, exercising, so that we have the energy for sex is also an important factor. This helps us feel better about our bodies too, as we all know as menopausal women, the extra pounds are harder to shift as we get older and always sit in all the wrong places!
If you didn’t live together you would arrange to see each other and make plans for when you did meet. You don’t need to stop this just because you live together.
Date nights are a great way to keep your relationship on track. I hear lots of people say “I shouldn’t need to plan to have sex” yet we organise what we are going to eat for dinner for a whole week ahead when we do a weekly shop. We book a holiday a year in advance! So, if we are saying sex is good for us and it improves and enhances our relationship, then we have to make space for it!
Usually, date night means you will do more than just have sex – maybe watch a movie or go out for dinner, making it extra special and also something good to anticipate and look forward to. It doesn’t have to cost lots of money. A movie night at home can be just as good as going out – make popcorn turn off all the lights and cuddle up on the sofa. Dinner could be dressing up for each other and sitting at your table at home, music on, no TV and gadgets off!
There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, yet we often find it difficult to just get an hour together, a couple of times a week, that is true quality time.
Having the time to take a shower or a relaxing bubble bath can really help, and maybe find a bit of time to read a bit of erotic fiction. These ideas can all help get you in the mood for a nice time together.
Spend more time on foreplay because in menopause it takes us longer to get aroused. I always say in our teenage years or early 20’s we are like a microwave, hot and ready quickly; in our 30’s when we might have a house, kids and a job, we’re more like an oven and need warming up first. However, by the time we reach menopause, we are more like an Aga and take a lot more warming up before we are ready!!
This doesn’t have to be sticky gel but I do recommend YES products, this company does a lovely oil and water-based lubricant and if you mix the two together you get a fabulous slippery feel which we call the double glide technique, reducing any discomfort you have previously felt that may have put you off in the past. They also do a great vaginal moisturiser that you can use too (contact yesyesyes.org.uk for some free samples).
Vibrators have come along way and definitely for the better! You can get vibrators made of silicone, specifically made for clitoral stimulation. This can really help make arousal so much easier. The very small bullet vibrators have great power to keep arousal good to enhance penetrative sex. There are also ones with a sucking motion that feel a bit like oral sex too, great for solo sex.
If you are too nervous to walk in to an adult store on the high street, take a look online, there’s some great websites such as pelvicrelief.co.uk, Lovehoney.co.uk or ssshhh.shop. This is something that can be fun to do with your partner, exploring ideas together.
Remember though, it’s not all about penetration. See this as a time of exploration and experimentation. Go back to basics, good kissing, sensual touching, and really get to know one another again. What you liked in your 20’s you probably didn’t like in your 30’s so it’s highly likely you won’t like it in your 50’s!
It’s worth “banning” penetrative sex for a couple of weeks and really focusing on foreplay and improving the communication between you. Share what you enjoy, and talk to your partner about the changes you are experiencing:
Couples who play together, stay together!
Trudy Hannington is the Senior Psychosexual Therapist who leads a team of 5 psychosexual therapists at the Leger clinic at Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. Trudy has worked in sexual health for over 25 years and specialised as a psychosexual therapist in 2002 after training at the Porterbrook Clinic at Sheffield.
Leger Clinic is a flagship service, which offers a “one stop shop” for all areas of sexual difficulty, either medical or psychological.
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