As a woman ages, her sexual desires change and her interest in being sexually active may decrease or increase. Changes may be prompted by her past sexual experiences or by the availability of a sexual partner.
Menopause occurs when a woman’s body stops releasing eggs and her menstrual cycles cease. The hormonal changes associated with menopause may affect a woman’s physical responses and interest in sex (libido.) Hormonal fluctuations in the time before menopause (called peri-menopause) may also affect a woman’s libido and sexual experience.
Sexual Changes Associated with Menopause
Some of the sexual changes commonly associated with menopause are:
- slower sexual arousal
- less lubrication produced during sex
- the vaginal wall gets thinner and intercourse may be uncomfortable
- intensity of orgasm may be reduced
- skin sensitivity is often increased
Although many women have a reduced interest in sex, others have an increase in sexual desire.
What needs to be done about these changes depends on how you feel about them and how readily you can incorporate them into your current sexual life. Even women who find that their sexual interest is greatly reduced may accept these changes, particularly if they have lost their sexual partner to illness or death. If the changes are less dramatic, a woman may welcome a slower, more sensual, sexual experience that emphasizes non-sexual touching and allows more time for lubrication. Since men also become aroused more slowly as they age, heterosexual couples may adapt their sexual lives in a way that ‘works’ for both partners. If both lesbian partners are experiencing menopause, the changes in their desires may also fit well together.
For some women and their partners, these changes are a problem. Women may be frustrated that their orgasms don’t feel right. Partners may conclude that a woman is less interested, because she lubricates less. It is important to talk to your partner(s) about the changes that are happening to your body and what both of you are feeling about these changes.