How can midlife women achieve superior sex, or at least put a little zip back into their sex lives? The North American Menopause Society asked some of our experts on midlife sex what they might recommend. Here are some suggestions.
1. “Get physically comfortable.” Many women around menopause experience vaginal dryness and burning. How can interest in sex be maintained if sex is painful? There are many excellent vaginal moisturizers and lubricants that relieve dryness and discomfort and may help make sex pleasurable again. Exercise, diet, vitamins, regular sexual activity, and overall self-care can improve vaginal health. As well, local or systemic estrogen therapy can make the postmenopausal vagina more flexible and moist.
2. “Get emotionally comfortable.” Women need to be present in the moment, and not distracted by work, kids, or feelings of anger or resentment toward their partner. Set the stage and create the right environment and mood for a rewarding intimate experience.
3. “Set aside a date night.” Given our complicated and hectic lives, most couples have little time for intimacy, whether sex is involved or not. One suggestion is that couples reserve a date night. Date nights can be once a week or once a month depending on the situation, but barring a medical emergency or tsunami-sized disaster, date night is sacrosanct. This time can be used for mutual activity, not necessarily just for sex, but if done right…the sex will often follow.
4. “Plan an erotic surprise.” Finding mutually satisfying activities is very important and requires hard work and good communication. Incorporating an erotic surprise into date night will certainly go a long way toward encouraging sex, but it is the mutually satisfying activity and the protected time that are key. The surprise can be subtle, such as her making his favorite dish for dinner or him having dinner waiting for her when she comes home. Or the surprise can be overt, such as he/she meets her/him at the front door wearing nothing but a __________ (use your imagination). Remember, candles, music, massages, baths together, whatever turns you on, can help set the right atmosphere.
5. “Make an old partner feel like a new one.” The more fun a couple has together outside the bedroom, the more pleasure they’ll find behind closed doors. For both men and women, a new partner is associated with increased sexual excitement and pleasure, so why not try to make an old partner feel more like a new one? Couples can try to remember how things were when they first met (before kids, work stress, and extra pounds!) and make an effort to recreate some of the special moments they shared. Or, they can be creative and try something novel, like a new position, different time of day, or room in the house.
6. “Ask an expert.” Couples may also benefit from consultation with professionals who have expertise in sexual education, counseling, and therapy. For help locating a sex therapist, access the web site of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.
For additional information regarding sexual function and menopause, see the web site of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), as well as the Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States.
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