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"Have More Sex. I Am Not Joking."

Dear Indrus: I read another one of your columns that talked about how my partner and I could re-new our sexuality after an extended period of time of not being sexually active. But really isn’t it just “normal” for women not to have much interest in sex during and after menopause?

Thanks for the honest question. What is normal? When it comes to sexuality at midlife the range of desire, passion, interest varies with every individual. This is especially true for women, and often men, by the way, during the infamous “change of life”. I have met some menopausal women who became more sexually active, and found a passion they had never known earlier in their life, during this passage.

A recent Gallup Poll says that 80% of women will experience some symptoms of menopause. 35-40% will experience some insomnia. Estrogen loss is associated with disrupted REM sleep, not to mention hot flashes waking you up). The poll also found a 30% change in sexual activity and from what I have heard professionally I would estimate more like seventy percent of a reduction in activity. The old joke that menopause is a pause from men has some credence.

It may be worth your while to understand more about why you are not interested. Some women start experiencing discomfort or pain as the tissue lining our vagina thins as we age. But you should know that vaginal dryness is preventable, treatable, and even reversible.
Here are some ways to take control of your own body:

*Be proactive. We are responsible for our own sexual health and well being.

*Have MORE SEX. I am not joking. Increased sexual activity increases the blood flow and that helps the makes the tissue stronger.

*Kegals, Kegals and more Kegals. I’m referring to flexing and strengthening the perineum muscles. Why? Because this exercise increases blood flow, and creates more lubrication. Even better, it keeps all of the pelvic floor muscles toned and these muscles are important in supporting many internal organs.

*See your doctor and talk to him or her about the various products available. If they do not seem seriously interested in resolving this issue, find another doctor.

*Look carefully at your diet. The internet and natural health magazines have great information about what foods are rich in the vitamins and minerals that support an easier passage through menopause.

*Use a lot of lubrication. Check products for petroleum content that can irritate the vagina. I am using organic grape seed oil.

*I am fortunate that during menopause and post menopause I have not had to do anything other than increase soy in my diet, but many women need to consider HRT’s or bioidenticals. I have spoken to many that have had excellent results with both. I am especially keen on bioidenticals. There is a lot of information about them, and in Victoria several compounding pharmacies have regular seminars on menopause, bioidenticals and other natural supplements. I sure Vancouver must also.

Honestly though, in my experience, the state of intimacy, sensuality and sexuality being enjoyed (or not) is a direct reflection on the state of the union. I believe there is an innate longing for a deepening and connection to our inner, soul and spiritual world as we age that we want to share. If we are not experiencing that deepening in our intimate relationship we can become disinterested in all aspects of intimacy.

At 57, I am experiencing the deepest and most expanding sexuality I have known. There is great wisdom we can access through sensuality/sexuality post menopause. We are the first generations to live long and healthy enough to explore this next passage.

I will be writing more about this in another article. Also, as I mentioned in the other article you read, sexuality may have been a difficult issue in your relationship for awhile and menopause might be a great reason not to have to deal with the whole messy topic anymore. Be brave, there are many couples who have tackled this difficult issue and now enjoy great sex and intimacy!

PS.I would like to put in a plug for a wonderful couple’s seminar that deals with sexuality /intimacy as well as communication skills, emotional challenges and a wide range of issues facing most relationships. Consider giving your relationship a sacred gift; check out Sharing a Path to be held at Hollyhock this August. We do need to nurture and nourish our relationship and "Sharing the Path" is a perfect way to do that. Same sex couples very welcome.

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