Sexual Health and Perimenopause

I want to talk to you about your sex life today or lack there of in perimenopause.

The word perimenopause means around the time of menopause. It is marked by a change in hormones that starts to signal that a woman is coming to the end of her natural span of fertility and moving onto a new phase in her life. Hormone activity starts to lower, periods change and will eventually disappear, and the body will begin to change as well.
                                           
There are 3 main hormones in a woman’s body affected by perimenopause:

1.    Estrogen
2.    Progesterone
3.    Testosterone

The decline in these hormones, especially estrogen, can lead to changes in a woman’s body and sexual drive that may leave her less interested in sex and worried about their body image and how desirable they are.

Even those who try to maintain a healthy sex life have reported that they’re not as easily aroused, and they may be less sensitive to touching and stroking, which can lead to less interest in sex. Lower levels of estrogen can also cause lower levels of vaginal lubrication, making sex uncomfortable or even painful unless she uses commercial lubricants to smooth the way.

Even with extra lubrication, however, intercourse can still be painful due to skin changes. Skin loses elasticity as it ages, so women may notice changes in the private areas similar to the age-related changes in skin they see on their faces. Fortunately, pure coconut oil can lubricate and moisturize at the same time, and lasts a long time without getting sticky.

Other factors may influence a woman’s level of interest in sex during perimenopause and after. Some of the main reasons include:

  • Heavier and/or longer periods
  • Worsening symptoms of PMS
  • Bladder control problems (incontinence)
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood disorders such as depression or anxiety
  • Stress
  • Feeling like less than a woman once her fertility declines
  • Body image issues due to changes and to weight gain
  • Health issues as she moves toward middle age
  • The side effects of medications they are taking

Most women are not that keen on sex during their periods either for several reasons, such as discomfort and mess, especially if the flow is very heavy. With periods getting heavier and lasting for more days during perimenopause, this cuts down on the number of days a woman might feel interested in sex.

PMS symptoms include bloating, breast tenderness, irritability and sudden mood swings, all of which also make it less likely a you will feel romantically inclined.

Urinary issues are triggered by the change in hormones, but can be very distressing for women concerned with ‘peeing themselves’, especially during sex. There are now super-absorbent incontinence pads and pull up underwear for women with incontinence issue, but they’re no help when a you are in bed naked. Cutting down on the amount of liquid you drink before bedtime and going to the bathroom and showering before sex can all help you feel more confident. The woman on top position might also put less pressure on the bladder.

Perimenopausal women report sleep disturbances, sometimes due to hot flashes or waking several times in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, can leave them sleepy and too fatigued for sex. Add to this stress and mood swings, and a poor body image through weight gain or the perception of being ‘old’ and it is easy to see why a some women might lose interest in sex.

Finally, underlying health conditions such as heart disease and arthritis may make sex more problematic, and there are many medications that carry a risk of sexual side effects. If you’ve been struggling with a loss of desire, read over this list of causes and tackle any of the ones which are relevant to you. Then see what a difference it can make to your sex life.

If you would like more tips on how to tackle the changes in perimenopause or menopause, check out my Hormone Help for Women DIY program here.  

Sexual Health and Perimenopause
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