WOMEN across the country are seeking new ways of having great sex as they get older.
Perimenopausal and menopausal women don’t want to be held back just because their bodies are changing.
And the experts are finally stepping in to help eradicate some of the symptoms that can affect the sex drive – from vaginal dryness to low self-confidence and even painful joints.
“Physical, psychological, social and lifestyle factors during menopause can all affect your sex drive,” explains Dr Eloise Elphinstone, BMS accredited menopause specialist from Menopause Care.
“One of the main changes is a fall in the levels of the hormones oestrogen and testosterone. These both play a part in feeling aroused and ready for sex.
“Falling levels can sometimes affect your response to sex and how you feel about sexual activity. Everyone’s different.
“It’s common and normal for your sex drive to decrease but also normal if it increases or stays the same.”
New research by Menopause Experts Group has revealed that 35 per cent of menopausal women have suffered joint pain during sex, over half have endured dryness and 53 per cent said they felt body conscious.
According to the research, women have sex 116 times a year on average before they hit perimenopause, but this drops to only twice a year during menopause.
So how can women experiencing this flip the narrative and start having great sex again?
According to the experts, the first step is self-exploration to find out how your body and the way your body experiences pleasure is changing.
“Sometimes our sex drive needs a kick start to get going,” explains leading sexpert Samantha Marshall.
“So to start off, we need to take the time to spend exploring solo.
“Throughout life, our sensations change – and this is just another one of those times.
“See it as an opportunity to get excited about pleasure again and treat yourself to some new vibrators that provide different types of stimulation.
“Remember, it’s not all about internal stimulation. In fact, most of us vulva owners need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm.”
Once you feel confident and reconnected with yourself again, start looking at new menopause focused products to help get you going between the sheets.
One of the main physical barriers many women struggle with during perimenopause and menopause is vaginal dryness, a result of which can make sex painful.
Doctors can prescribe medications such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), testosterone and even vaginal oestrogen to help with the physical symptoms.
But there are also options that can be bought from your local pharmacy, such as all natural, PH balanced and hormone-free lubricants.
Some of these products, such as Lotus Blossom Vaginal Moisturiser, go even deeper than that, offering you a vagina ‘facial’ to hydrate, regenerate, strengthen and improve the elasticity of the skin.
To go one up, there are even now shots that are administered in the vagina that can help women, such as The O-Shot®.
“It works by using Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), which is then injected into the vagina and clitoris, to stimulate cell growth and tissue regeneration,” intimate women’s health expert Dr Shirin Lakhani reveals.
“In conjunction with improving sensitivity and vaginal dryness, the O-Shot treatment can also be used for stress urinary incontinence and lichen sclerosus (a debilitating genital skin condition).”
Another physical symptom of ageing and menopause is the loss of muscle strength in the pelvic floor, so it’s key to strengthen the pelvic floor to help with incontinence, prolapse, and even improve orgasms.
“You need to do pelvic floor exercises three times a day ideally,” explains Dr Elphinstone.
“They don’t take long and can be done when driving, watching TV or lying in bed.
“To squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, try to feel like you’re holding in pee and stopping yourself passing wind at the same time. Then do 10 quick squeezes and relaxations.
“Once you’re used to it, try holding each squeeze for up to five seconds. Try to build up to do 10 holds for up to 10 seconds.
“Make sure you completely relax in between each squeeze. If you don’t relax properly this can lead to problems as well.
“Remember to breathe normally and if you’re clenching your upper stomach muscles and buttock muscles, you’re holding too hard.”
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution when talking about sex, sexual desire and menopause.
Dr Eloise Elphinstone
So you’ve done the self-exploration, you’ve bought the lube and done your exercises. Now it’s time to reconnect with your partner.
Some women often find the traditional positions they did before are now uncomfortable and don’t give them the pleasure they need.
The most rewarding positions for menopausal women are those that reduce the strain on joints and also help women feel more confident about how they look.
According to the newly reinvented Karma Sutra, designed for menopausal women, there are three top positions well worth trying.
Three top positions
1. The Cutlery Drawer
The Cutlery Drawer, or spooning as you might know it, allows the woman to lie comfortably on her side whilst being penetrated from behind.
“The spooning position is ideal for many during menopause,” Sex Advisor Barbara Santini explains.
“This position allows for a cosy, intimate embrace that can be incredibly comforting.
“This position allows for deep penetration without the intensity of direct face-to-face interaction, which can be less pressure for both partners.”
2. The Yoga Class
Second is The Yoga Class position, which is great for women who are feeling more adventurous.
The position requires you to lie on your side with one leg bent up and resting around your partner’s waist.
This has the benefit of stretching the hips, which will help reduce inflammation and pain.
Lastly, there’s the simple side-by-side position.
“This can be very pleasurable as it offers a different angle for penetration,” explains Barbara.
“In this position, both partners face each other and can maintain eye contact, which can increase the emotional connection.
“It is less physically demanding, making it a good choice for those experiencing joint pain or fatigue.”
As well as the physical, the psychological elements of what’s happening with your body can also impact your sex drive, and your relationship.
According to the pros, the best way of overcoming these mental blocks is to talk.
“Communication is important. Your partner may not understand the changes you’re going through and how it’s affecting you and your sexual desire,” Dr Elphinstone continues.
“The first step is to acknowledge there’s an issue and try to talk about it, making sure you both get a chance to say how you’re feeling.
“Talking and listening can help keep your relationship strong. It can help to remember that a relationship isn’t only about sexual intimacy.
“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution when talking about sex, sexual desire and menopause.
“Everyone experiences perimenopause and menopause differently. It’s such an important area to not push to the side.
“It can have a huge impact on you, your relationship and your self esteem. So my one piece of advice is to talk – whether that’s with a friend, a GP or your partner.”