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Maintaining intimacy during menopause

Main Line Health September 26, 2016

There are many myths and misconceptions about menopause that can make women fearful of this transition in their life—including the idea that menopause will cause women to lose interest in sex. But, while there are many physical and emotional changes that can affect a woman’s libido during menopause, it doesn’t mean the end of intimacy for you and your partner.

“Menopause should not be the end of sexuality for women. Instead, it should be an opportunity for women to have an open discussion about their fears, and take greater control of their sexuality,” Mojdeh Saberin, MD, OB/GYN at the Main Line Health Collegeville.

While some women may not experience a loss of libido during menopause, many women do. Below, Dr. Saberin offers some tips for women who may be experiencing a loss of libido.

Address vaginal dryness

A common symptom of menopause is vaginal dryness, which can hinder intimacy and make it painful. This dryness is caused by the thinning of the vaginal walls as a result of declining production of estrogen.

Fortunately, there are many options available to help treat dryness and make intercourse more comfortable. Water or silicone-based lubricants are available over the counter and effective for many women. However, if pain persists, talk to your Ob/Gyn about other effective treatment and management options.

Explore treatment options

Hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, and mood swings are just a few of the unwelcome symptoms of menopause, and they can understandably affect a woman’s self-esteem and make her feel exhausted. While the timeline for these symptoms can vary, many women will experience them for months or years during menopause.

If these symptoms are interfering with your sex life—or other areas of your life—talk to your doctor about potential treatments for these symptoms, including topical treatments, behavior modifications, and hormone and non-hormonal therapy.

Talk to your partner

Intimacy issues affect both you and your partner, and many women may put pressure on themselves to return to intercourse or be intimate in an effort to please their partner. For this reason, it’s important to talk to your partner about what you’re experiencing and how it’s affecting you.

“Talking to your partner about how these physical and emotional changes are influencing the different aspects of your life, including your sexuality, is important. This discussion can often help bring other problems to the surface and allow couples to explore possible solutions,” says Dr. Saberin.

Talk to an expert

Navigating menopause isn’t always easy, so don’t be afraid to turn to your physician or a therapist to sort through some of the physical and emotional changes you are going through. Helping address your concerns may ultimately make you feel more relaxed and more comfortable with your partner.

Main Line Health gynecologists provide expertise in a wide range of services, including contraceptive services, care during perimenopause, and preventative care in the post-menopausal years. If you’re concerned about emotional changes during menopause, talk to your gynecologist. Visit our website for more information on coping with the challenges of menopause, or to find a Main Line Health gynecologist in your area.