Sex After 50… Oh Yeah!
As a 50+ women who has always enjoyed sex and intimacy, approaching menopause has caused me to start investigating and preparing for this new and “exciting” chapter in my life. There is a concern that I may lose interest or dry up like many of the lakes here in Florida. For many women over the age of 50, these feelings are all too common. At Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Specialized Women’s Health, Margery Gass, MD, says as you get older, especially after menopause, you may face an increasing number of barriers to sex, including dryness and constriction of the vagina, medical conditions such as diabetes and extra weight, and loss of libido.
Dr. Gass expresses the importance of being proactive. She offers up seven tips to help you can overcome barriers and enjoy an active sex life well into your 70s and 80s, now that really got my attention.
1. Practice, practice, practice
It’s important to continue your sexual activity, there is something to “use it or lose it”. If you want your vagina to “stay in shape” it’s a lot like physical fitness. You have to keep working it to preserve function and reduce the pain associated with the narrowing of the vagina caused by inactivity. Not to mention “practice makes perfect” and you can always learn new tricks.
2. Moisturize and Lubricate
Lubricants are so important if intercourse has become painful due to the dryness associated with many post- menopausal women. In addition to lubricants, you can also add a moisturizer. Dr. Gass says there’s a distinction in how those two products are used. “Lubricants are for the purpose of intercourse, and a vaginal moisturizer is like a moisturizer for the skin on the rest of your body. Use the moisturizer on a regular basis to keep the vagina moist and supple. I had never heard of a vaginal moisturizer, it’s worth looking into.
3. Don’t be shy with your Doctor
Some women may have trouble talking to their healthcare provider about sex. Problems leading to sexual inactivity are common, “you’re not alone in having these problems,” Dr. Gass says A clinician may advise medications such as low-dose vaginal estrogen for postmenopausal women if lubricants and moisturizers are ineffective. If the estrogen does not help, continue to work with your provider to figure out a reason for your discomfort. I recently experienced prolonged bleeding and I went to my ob/gyn and said “I’m broke and you need to fix me” She laughed and off to surgery we went. She did a D&C, a biopsy and removed a polyp. Two weeks later she gave me a high five and said go home and have sex with your husband. I love my doctor!
4. Lost libido? Therapy may Help
“Ask yourself if there are things going on in your life or in your relationship that keep you from wanting to have sex with your partner,” Dr. Gass says. “Be honest with yourself. A lack of desire is often related to relationship issues.” Dr. Gass adds that relationship roadblocks tend to affect women more than men when it comes to sex. If you cannot find solutions on your own, a therapist may be able to help you and your partner. My King Charles Cavalier is my therapist, she’s a good listener and sometimes you just need to talk it out.
5. Think your sex life could be better? Talk it through
Sometimes you just need to talk things out. Talking about sex is the same as talking about other challenges in a relationship. “It’s always better to try to communicate with the ‘I’ words rather than the ‘You’ words,” Dr. Gass says. “Try to describe your personal reaction and your personal feelings about certain situations instead of making accusations. Pick a neutral time and place and talk about a goal of making sex enjoyable for both of you.”
6. Walk, Walk, Walk
When that weight gain starts to creep up on you, you may feel unattractive and uninterested, how could anyone find you attractive? .Listen ladies, physical activity can help you feel better both mentally and physically. Dr. Gass recommends that women over 50 get walking, at a brisk pace, if possible. Walking helps with blood sugar, keeps bones strong, burns calories, preserves memory and relieves stress, all reasons to start walking regularly and never stop! Plus, if you walk with your husband, it’s a good time to talk about sex.
7. Try something different
If a medical condition is limiting sexual activity, get creative. Try different sexual positions to make intercourse more comfortable, or try alternatives to intercourse such as massage, different types of lubricants and sexual toys. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged if you do not agree on everything; try to find something you both accept as fun or interesting to try. This can open up new and exciting doors that help you look forward to whatever comes next.
Personally, I think sex is a very important part of your overall relationship. Closeness, intimacy, snuggling, “naughty” conversations, personal discovery, letting go, a feeling of being alive, it’s all important. Bottom line, don’t just take the attitude that you are getting older and sex isn’t important, it is! So, find a way to make it fun, make it “fit” into your schedule and make it a priority. Just the thoughts of a 50+ healthy midlifer!