A satisfying sex life during menopause or after? Yes, it is possible.
Women who are going through the stages of menopause experience a decrease in estrogen which can cause changes in their vulvar, vaginal and urinary health as estrogen declines – changes that may have a great impact on their sexual health and their overall quality of life.
The term Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause – or GSM – encompasses a group of symptoms that may occur in the vulvovaginal and bladder-urethral areas from loss of estrogen that occurs with menopause. GSM (formerly called Vaginal Atrophy, or Vulvar Vaginal Atrophy, or VVA) includes symptoms such as vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation; lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain during sex; and urinary symptoms of urgency, pain or burning during urination (dysuria) and recurrent urinary tract infections.
Despite the millions of women experiencing GSM, studies show that only 18% of these women seek treatment – a truly heartbreaking statistic as there are effective treatments that can greatly improve a woman’s sexual health and overall well-being.
Today, health care providers better understand the impact menopause has on sexual health and wellness. Your gynecologist or primary care provider can refer you to a women’s health provider who has specialty training in menopause and sexual health. Even if your provider doesn’t ask you about your sexual activity, take the time to initiate the conversation. The topic of sex is no longer a taboo subject, and sexual health problems are medically established conditions which an expert can help diagnose and treat.
There are several self-help options both you and your partner can do to improve intimacy and sexual activity during and post-menopause. Over the counter lubricants and vaginal moisturizers can be used to help maintain moisture and alleviate dryness and pain. Also, try to take your time before sexual activity to make sure you and your partner are both relaxed and stress-free.
Your menopause and sexual health specialist can discuss with you any sexual health concerns related to menopause. There may be an underlying medical condition that can be treated with medications or therapy.
To find a specialist experienced in treating menopause and sexual health conditions, visit the Cincinnati Sexual Health Consortium provider page.
The following national organizations provide additional information on menopause and sexual health conditions.
The North American Menopause Society
International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health
International Society for Sexual Medicine
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists