Sex and the (peri)menopause

I wondered if it might be helpful to create a thread for sharing any issues, questions and solutions we might have regarding intimacy during this phase in life.

I'll come back later to add my bit - the issues we experienced and our solutions to them - if others want to start?

Looking forward to it MsR as wifey is there

Thanks for the reply - there is another thread about this too, but I'll still post here. I went through the menopause when I was early 40s and had lots of other life stresses going on. I'm 48 now. I'll describe the sex related stuff, and what I found helpful, then list the other stuff. I'm happy to expand and answer anyone's queries if it is helpful:

1. Painful sex: women's vaginas can constrict and dryness can be a problem, making sex painful. I found Vagifem from my GP helped - it is an estrogen pessary which can restore stretch and lubrication. It is ok to use even if hrt isn't an option. Also Replense vaginal moisturiser - from pharmacies or on prescription: apply daily or before sex. Also, lots of lube- a good quality one. We like Sliquid Natural Gel from Lovehoney. Over the counter stuff might not cut it. Don't be afraid to go for one labelled 'anal' if it is thick and slick enough. Lots of 'foreplay' as things take longer.

2. Loss of libido / desire. This was a big one for us. TBH I relied on my OH being understanding and not pressuring. I know not everyone's partner will as understanding. Explore non-penetrative options, sensual massage, showers together etc. Give it time. In terms of getting that mojo back - again, time + fantasy, solo time, nice treats. If the desire switch is 'off' then time and non-sexual intimacy really is key. It could be a couple of years, not a couple of months. I didn't know how to find the 'on' switch, but it found me in the end. Your partner needs to be accepting and also hopeful and helpful, playful. Play around with toys etc and lingerie without having penetrative sex in mind. Remind your man that it is about the process, not the end result. Cuddle up.

Other issues: please post and ask if you'd like to discuss these. They are things women and their partners might go through, just not necesarily related to sex: although they may affect intimacy:

3.night sweats / chills / hot flashes

4. mood swings / emotional changes

5. erratic / heavy bleeding

6. insomnia

Any other suggestions...?

7. Increased libido / desire. The opposite of number 2 but just as difficult to manage and as potentially destructive in a relationship. Most of the same advice as MsR gave in 2 applies to this one. Communication is vital with your OH, as it is with all the different potential symptoms. It has to be a shared experience with give and take. Your expectations about how your partner can meet your increased sexual needs have to be realistic, as his/her libido probably hasn't changed, and much of that extra sexual energy will need to be satisfied in your own time with toys. Your OH will need to be understanding about this alone time but they are likely to be relieved that you have another outlet so they don't have to feel the pressure of trying to perform. Your time with your OH needs to be kept as normal as possible otherwise stress will destroy the intimacy.

👍 following thread as my OH is just starting this phase in life.

5. Erratic / heavy bleeding. This one crept up on me gradually and was picked up by my GP when I badly failed a haemoglobin level test before a blood donor appointment eight years ago. He discussed my flow and I realised that, yes, my periods had been getting heavier (still regular though) and I was beginning to check I wasn't leaking onto my clothes, which was tricky in my job. He asked about my mother's experiences. Her bleeding got so bad that she would suddenly without warning just flood. She chose HRT over the only other option in her day of a hysterectomy. Her HRT caused its own issues but my GP recommended trying the Mirena IUD instead.

Not everyone will be able to have this IUD fitted but I can honestly say that it has transformed things for me. After a few months my periods stopped altogether, which is very common and why it is such a good alternative to other treatments. As it isn't being used as a contraceptive (husband had vasectomy) it didn't have to be changed after five years. The hormone release decreases but is still enough to stop the bleeding. It will be removed at 55, at which stage we'll find out if my periods have stopped completely or not. Fingers crossed!

@BeeMine re:

5. Erratic / heavy bleeding. Bad news in the bedroom if it comes with pain, otherwise we just used to put a towel or sarong down. You've made good points. I went for hrt to protect my bones as still in my 40s- the first prescription gave me bleeds which were as bad as the awful periods I used to have. The second caused erratic bleeding and had to be checked as it can be one sign of uterine cancer - all clear there, and a different sort of hrt is working really well. No bleeding, feel normal, good sex drive. I think a lot of folk need to try a few things before they find what suits - glad you have found yours. The Mirena Coil is a popular choice. Good luck!

And yes, increased libido needs to be handled as sensitively as decreased, by both partner... we all need to keep talking to each other.

I want to follow up on no.3: night sweats / chills and temperature deregulation

Lovehonney take note: women of this age still love sexy lingerie but we need natural fibres.

Silk gets soaked too fast - it isn't absorbant enough.

Big no to polyester.

Cotton is good but not very sexy.

In the daytime base merino layers are great because they adapt - keep you warm when cold, and wick away moisture when hot - anti-bacterial too. Layers of all kinds work - things which can be added or removed easily without spoiling the look of an outfit.

We need fab bedroom lingerie made of natural fibres. Lace works tho, because the air circulates. A drapey grown can work as a cover up when cold or a tease when hot.

So much horrible, frumpy stuff out there!

A fan is essential, with an extra blanket or throw for the OH if they get cold :-)

I had the mirena coil fitted for flooding when perimenopausal, it got so bad I had to bin my clothes and buy new ones to wear when out shopping once. So embarrassing walking around in soaked trousers. And the mirena worked like a dream, no more heavy and painful floods and revolting big clots! Sorry for the graphic detail, but it can happen.

That was 8 years ago and I'm on my second mirena as I found that after 5 years (when the hormones were wearing out in the coil) the painful periods started to return with heavy flow, worse with each month. The mirena still a joy for me, I have very occasional spots of blood and that's it. It doesn't affect my sex life at all.

I don't know if I have gone through the menopause yet but in a couple of years I will find out!