One of the things that prompted me to write a book on perimenopause and menopause was how many hours I spent searching for information during my own menopausal journey. I was like a sponge trying to soak up every bit of knowledge I could find, and I really wanted someone to take the mystery out of it for me, but all the medical jargon just confused me even more.
So here is the Menopause Myth Buster – straight talk about perimenopause/menopause and sex! Let’s start with a common question:
“How come many women going through menopause don’t want sex?”
Unlike being drenched from a hot flash, this particular symptom of menopause can feel a little more private, a little more personal, and that makes it harder for some women to talk about. It’s the mystery of what’s happening to my sex life. I title my own experience,”Sex in the Desert”! My once tropical island of a libido turned into the equivalent of the Mojave Desert. I’d rather scrub the floors, clean the closets, and do just about anything else to avoid going to bed. And let’s face it, my libido wasn’t the only thing that felt dry. I began to wonder if what I was the only menopausal women going through this. I decided to ask around. Not surprisingly, at first, most of the women I talked to didn’t want to admit their sex life was taking a nosedive. As women, we’re often focused on being “fine” all the time, and not wanting sex means suddenly there’s something wrong. In the beginning, I was even embarrassed to talk about it with my doctor!
Here’s the truth. You are not turning into a sexless shell of our former self! You don’t need to consider spending the rest of your life in a nunnery! Almost every woman I spoke with went through the desert period at some point during perimenopause or menopause. Even if it’s not “fine”, it’s not unnatural.
So why is your libido dropping? It could be your hormones. If you recognize what’s happening to your body and know why, you can work toward getting back to your island paradise.
Every 28 days or so, the premenopausal vagina starts doing some redecorating. It fluffs up the pillows in the womb, releases the most attractive egg it has and starts surging hormones through the body. Cue the biological bow-chicka-bow-wow music. Women going through perimenopause and menopause don’t get that same monthly reminder from Mother Nature to “get some.” The bow-chicka-bow-wow music stops and you didn’t even get the last dance. On top of that, most experience a drop in the level of their estrogen hormone across the board, which can cause their vagina’s natural state to become Mojave -like.
The great news is that there is help for this. Having your doctor check your hormone levels is one of best things you can do if you feel like you’re wandering through the desert. Even if you have had a test done recently, these levels can shift at any time during perimenopause or menopause. Low testosterone is often responsible for a crashing libido. Low estrogen can contribute to dryness which can result in painful sex. When sex hurts, you don’t want to have it.
If you are experiencing vaginal itching and burning, pain during sex, urgent or painful urination, frequent urinary tract infections and/or bleeding during sex, make an appointment with your Menopause Specialist! Your symptoms ARE treatable! There is local estrogen therapy (LET) options available to treat these issues. The North American Menopause Society new statement on hormone therapy says, “Vaginal estrogen (and systemic if required) or other nonestrogen therapies may be used at any age for prevention or treatment of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause.”
If you are a cancer survivor, the 2016 Clinical Guidelines and Position Statement from NAMS says, “The use of systemic hormone therapy is not generally recommended in breast cancer survivors, although low-dose vaginal estrogen can be considered with consultation with oncology.”
If you are already on hormone therapy (HT) and start experiencing these symptoms, circle back with your menopause specialist as you might need an adjustment in your dosage.
If your symptoms are not very severe you may find that simply adding moisturizers and lubes can be your solution. Some women need a combination of all the above therapies to get them wet and wild again. You can read more about all of these therapies here.
My mission is to educate and empower women to get the help they need and deserve.
Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN.
For more great tips on how to find a menopause specialist and deal with menopause download my free ebook: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS the Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.
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