When it comes to sex during menopause ‘communication makes a world of difference’, according to relationship and psychosexual therapist, Miranda Christophers.
There are lots of reasons why sexual appetite and experiences change during menopause, and as part of our Summer Survival Guide Miranda told us how menopause can affect your sex life and that open communication is a must.
But, there are a number of other things you can try too and here Miranda shares some of her top tips.
1. Find your comfort zone during menopause
Choosing an environment that makes you feel more comfortable can help.
If you don’t like to have physical intimacy with the lights on, maybe dim them and think about your senses as a whole. You could introduce candlelight, sounds, oils, touch, sensation – and you might want to think about lubricant.
If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness and you’re uncomfortable, then you’re not going to be enjoying intimacy, but many find introducing a sexual lubricant works well for them.
2. Try different sex positions in menopause
One of the other things you might want to think about is what level of intimacy you feel comfortable with. Talk to partners about sexual positions, what you like and what’s comfortable.
You may not be enjoying or finding penetrative sex comfortable and we’ve got to remember there are many different ways of having sexual intimacy.
There’s no one prescribed way of doing it – it’s about finding things that you enjoy and it’s really important we think about that pleasure.
3. Rethink the Big ‘O’
People do find that they can experience changes in terms of their sensation, desire and orgasm as they go through the menopause.
This affects people differently, but it can be the case that you notice a decrease in sensation and that you do notice that it’s harder to get to that point of orgasm than you had previously.
But, the orgasm doesn’t need to be the goal – we need to think of pleasure as the key component.
4. Explore and experiment
You may on the other hand notice an increase in sensation and sensitivity. If you use sex toys, for example, you may want to focus on the clitoral stimulation to reduce any discomfort.
Remember that this is totally different from person to person and what feels good for one does not necessarily feel the best way for another. So explore, experiment and find a way that feels really pleasurable for you.
Think of it in terms of the overall effect that it gives you too. Many people, for example, use self-pleasure as a way of relaxing and letting things go. So we’re not only looking at pleasure, we’re thinking about the benefits in terms of the body and we’re also thinking of the benefits for the mind.
5. Give yourself a boost
Consider what else you could be doing to boost your libido naturally. There are vitamins and supplements that many people feel make a difference.
One of the other things to consider is how you feel about yourself, so start to think about diet, exercise and think about other things you could be doing to help you feel better about yourself
Spending more time with your partner can also help to improve your relationship, so put yourself in an environment that you really enjoy, go out for dinner, do things at home that are pleasurable, and take up new interests together.
6. Create a connection
Also, think about consciously creating physical touch.
There is something innately within us as humans that many of us enjoy that closeness, that sense of skin-to-skin contact and feeling safe.
Begin by exploring sensations – just touching and being touched – and notice what that feels like.
It doesn’t need to be sexual touch and it doesn’t need to be areas that feel uncomfortable or painful. It can be your back, it can be your leg, it can be the back of your neck – or there are even very sensitive areas on your hand!
Even if it’s not sexual intimacy, the connection between two people will give you emotional intimacy.
7. Seek help
I would always recommend people go and speak to a menopause specialist at their GP surgery too, or find one outside if they’re not getting the answers and support they need via the surgery itself.