Sex After Menopause

Text Size: Normal / Medium / Large
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Will I enjoy sex more as I get older?

Sex can be a pleasurable and healthy experience for any woman regardless of age, stage of life or physical abilities. The choice to abstain from sex is also normal and healthy.

Women do go through physical changes after menopause that can affect how they feel about sex. These changes can be positive for many women.

Some of the benefits of sex after menopause can include:

  • Freedom from pain from conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids. Some women who have experienced pain during sex due to endometriosis or fibroids find that menopause brings relief from these conditions and they can enjoy sex more.
  • Freedom for heterosexual women from worries about birth control and unplanned pregnancy.
  • More privacy and time for sex for parents when children are older.

What are the challenges to enjoying sex as I get older?

Some women find there are challenges to enjoying sex in mid-life and beyond.
After menopause, women can experience vaginal changes such as decreased lubrication and a thinning of the vaginal tissues that can cause discomfort. This also puts them at a higher risk for transmission of sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

To deal with vaginal changes:

  • Practice safer sex. This is very important to your health. Use a male or female condom to protect your self from infections.
  • Allow for longer foreplay to give yourself plenty of time to lubricate. Water-soluble lubricants found at drugstores can also help prevent pain or discomfort. Avoid oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly. These can weaken condoms and make them less effective in preventing infections.

If you are sexually active, it is important to talk to your health care provider about being regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections.

Women who have had their menopause, or who have had a hysterectomy may have lower sex desire (libido) because of lower hormone levels. This is also normal.

Some older women or their partners face new physical limitations with illness or conditions that develop as they age. You may want to try new positions or techniques; healthy sexuality does not have to include intercourse. Manual and/or oral stimulation, by yourself or with your partner, can be quite satisfying too. If you have a partner, talk about what you'd each like to try and have fun experimenting together.

What else can affect how I feel about sex as I get older?

Some women become single in mid-life due to the death of a partner or the end of a long-term relationship. Women who want to express themselves sexually may face the challenge of meeting someone new and starting a sexual relationship. This can be easier when you:

  • understand what gives you pleasure;
  • are comfortable with yourself and your sexuality; and
  • feel confident about your ability to negotiate safer sex practices.

Some women choose masturbation as a safe, pleasurable means of staying sexually active.

Some women choose abstinence or less sexual activity as they grow older. If you have a partner who would like to have sex more often than you do, then this is an issue for you to talk about and negotiate - as it would be at any stage of life.

Many things besides physical changes can decrease your interest in sex. You may be experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, or problems in a relationship. You may be feeling less sexually desirable also because of the messages in the media that only young women are sexy.

It may help to:

  • find someone to help you if you are caring for your aging parent or have other caregiving responsibilities;
  • take up yoga or meditation or find other ways to relax; or
  • see a therapist.

You may find that desire returns when you are more relaxed. And remember that touch comes in many wonderful, non-sexual ways. Hugs and other signs of affection can also help you feel close and intimate.

Read more about this in Older women and sexuality ... are we still just talking lube?

 
Revised December 2012.