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@noartist

Sex and perimenopause; not a (midlife) crisis?

5 min read
Muriel van Oers

Approved by

Astrid Kremers - Sexologist
You don’t have to give up on getting laid once you inevitably dive head-first into perimenopause. We acknowledge that you’re going to go through lots of changes in (peri)menopause, but we’re here to help keep your sex life fun and exciting.
@noartist

Your body is going through perimenopause. It’s scary and a lot changes, mentally and physically. This includes how you experience sex. You might not feel up for sex as much due to hot flashes or mood swings and your partner might not get it up as quickly as before. We get taught (some sort of) sexual education when we’re young, but no one ever tells us how sex changes when we’re perimenopausal. We tried to find out what the most common changes to your sex life are when you’re perimenopausal and how to keep sex fun and exhilirating.

Around the age of 45, most women slowly slip into perimenopause. And in about 5 to 7 years time, shit really hits the fan: menopause.

Sex hurts. What should I do?

Everybody experiences things differently and people’s experience with perimenopause is no different. Lots of people struggle with vaginal dryness. It’s quite common and definitely nothing to feel embarrassed about. Your hormonal balance gets put on its head and that affects your vagina as well. When your body starts producing less estrogen, the part of your vaginal walls that produce discharge become thinner. This also lowers the defenses against vaginal infections, leading to vaginal irritation and a burning sensation. You can read more about it here. There’s a good chance sex will be a lot more painful because of this. And sex is not supposed to be painful. How to make it feel good again? Well, we’re so glad you asked, here are some tips:

Foooooreplay 

Let’s preface this by saying that sex is never supposed to be painful (except if it’s the good kind, preferably with a safeword), also during perimenopause. Good news and bad news. The bad news is that the skin of the vagina becomes a lot more sensitive, but the good news is that with enough arousal it can still get very wet. Lots of people have sex when they’re not fully relaxed or aroused enough and it could feel a lot more painful after hitting perimenopause. It makes it all the more important that you’re properly relaxed and aroused. Take the time to reconnect with your sexuality and take your sweet time making love.

Rediscover what to do to make sex feel good again (with your partner). There’s so much more to it than just penetration.

Lube it up?

Some people with penises want quicker sex as they get older, because they’re afraid of losing their erection. You’d think that lube is a great solution to this problem, but we’re afraid not. Lube is only wise to use with non-penetrative sex and it’s best to used silicone-based lube. 

Frequent sex is great and it keeps your vagina and vulva’s circulation on top and keeps it wet and soft down there. It’s actually true that frequent sex (as long as you enjoy it) is the best maintenance for your velvet volvo. Training your pelvic floor muscles improves circulation but make sure you seek advice from a professional like a physical therapist or sexologist first. If you do the wrong exercises it could create issues instead of fix them. Vaginal moisturizers help increase moisture and improve the quality of your vaginal tissue, plus keeping the pH-balance in check. Make sure to use products that use hyaluronic acid instead of hormones. 

Hormone creams or pills

If all the other tips don’t work (as much as they should) and you feel like the vaginal dryness keeps you from performing your daily activities, you could consider using hormone creams or pills. These products contain estrogen, which helps keep it wet down there. You can usually get these creams or pills with help of your GP or gynecologist.

My clit is super sensitive! Is that normal?

During perimenopause the fat tissue in the area of your clit thins out, making it feel more sensitive than before. Rubbing it directly might feel uncomfortable and in some cases painful. Pain or fear of feeling pain makes it a lot harder to feel aroused. That’s why it’s important to rediscover what you do like! And of course, communicate what you like with your partner. This way your partner can relearn and keep you satisfied.

Can I stop using contraception?

Menopause announces the end of an era for you personally. After menopause you won’t be fertile anymore after all. But this obviously doesn’t happen overnight. There’s still a chance you can get pregnant. You can only be certain if you haven’t menstruated for at least twelve months. Only then you can safely stop using contraception.

Sudden weight gain

Your body starts producing less estrogen during perimenopause, leading to your bad moods or lower libido. Your body also produces more fat around the areas of your breasts and belly. A substance in your belly fat converts testosterone into estrogen. The changes that happen to your hormones, triggered by perimenopause, cause you to gain weight. Especially around your midsection. You might not feel as sexy as you did before because of all these sudden changes to your body. But rest assured, the belly fat is there to help you! It’s extremely important to take extra good care of your body during perimenopause. Sleep longer, train those muscles and catch some rest. 

Fluctuations in libido. How to navigate it?

All these changes to your hormones trigger a crazy amount of emotions and mood swings. And your sexual needs and libido might change as well. Your sex drive might change and the types of intimacy you enjoy might change as well. These changes are very confusing for you as well as your sex partner, and they might make you feel insecure and unsure. Communication is key here. Especially when everything is changing. Rediscover what you like by talking about it, thoroughly. This boosts your self-confidence and helps your sex life for the better. 

On the plus side, more free time!

Around the age of 50, you suddenly have more time on your hands. Perhaps your kids are out of the house, you have financial stability, it’s easier to talk about stuff and you’re braver! Most people have more privacy and time to experience new things! It’s also a time to (re)think your relationships. Do I still want it? Do they still want it? It’s a time of change. In order to become more comfortable with these changes, it’s important to recognize them and communicate with your partner. You can figure out new and fun things to do with all that extra time. Maybe you can schedule a weekly date night to really take some time to focus on each other. It’s also a time of new experiences. How about introducing a new sex toy or trying new things in the bedroom. Planning sex might sound silly but it has a lot of benefits. We’re not suggesting you grab your Google Calendar and drily scheduling in ‘sexual intercouse’ between 14:46 and 15:13 (except if that’s your thing of course), but rather giving sex the attention it needs. This way you can prepare more and the time leading up to it makes you more excited and aroused. Besides, if you plan it in, you can give each other your full attention.

What about him?

You’re not the only one going through changes around the age of fifty. Men (or people assigned male at birth) don’t produce as much testosterone as they get older and there’s a deterioration of the blood vessels, which causes loss of erection, making them more insecure. Pressure to perform and fear of failure doesn’t help either. So it’s important to rediscover sex for them as well. Remember, not being able to get it up doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t think you’re attractive anymore!

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Cycle is a community where all aspects of the female body are discussed freely. From menstruation to menopause: we'll help you understand your body, mind, cycle and sexuality better, with the help of our Cycle Experts.