Q. My new partner and I are both 50, and are extremely fortunate to be able to say that this is the most exciting and satisfying sex either of us has ever had (we’ve calmed down a little now, but still enjoy a minimum of twice-daily sessions).
Obviously, I’ll be reaching the menopausal stage before too long, and I’m wondering how this will affect our sex lives. Can you recommend any good books on the subject?
The Lovers’ Guide replies:
I’m glad to hear you are enjoying a fulfilling sex life – you are doing well – depending which figures you look at, the average seems to be about twice a week, so good for you!
At the menopause, the ovaries stop producing oestrogen and the first thing that you may notice is a reduction in vaginal secretions, meaning that the vagina is less well lubricated during arousal and sex may become uncomfortable. Up to 40% of menopausal women say they find sex painful (dyspareunia) and as a result have sex less often.
This actually makes the situation worse – it really is a case of if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. Staying sexually active helps and using a local oestrogen cream or pessary available on prescription makes a real difference to the lubrication. The hormone is not absorbed in to the body but if you don’t want to use hormones, lubricants like KY jelly or a slow release form called Replens can be bought from the chemist.
The ovaries continue to produce androgens (the male hormone responsible for libido or sex drive) for several years after they stop producing oestrogen. For about half of us this causes an increase in libido around the menopause, particularly in slim women. This is not as you may think because they have a better body image, although this may play it’s part, but because fat cells convert testosterone to oestrogen thereby reducing the levels of male hormone.
There is an excellent booklet available from your Health Education Authority called “Menopause – your questions asked and answered”.