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5 Unexpected Ways Sex Changes After 50
Having sex is hot. Having sex after 50, when you're likely to be right in the thick of menopause (the average menopausal age is 51, according to the ) is also hot, but maybe not in the steamy, heart-pumping way you'd prefer it to be. Along with cranking up your internal thermometer, sex after menopause can be different physically, mentally, and sexually. And while some of these changes—hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain—can be considered a barricade to getting busy in the bedroom, menopause can actually create a better sex life than you were experiencing before.
"Women do not have to give up their sexual lives just because they're headed toward or are already in menopause," says Alyssa Dweck, MD, a New York-based gynecologist and author ofThe Complete A to Z for Your V. "It does take a little bit of work, but its worth it."
Whether you've started to have symptoms of menopause or have already gone through it, here's what to expect about having sex after 50.
You might experience some vaginal dryness
It's a little ironic that between hot flashes during the day and night sweats as you sleep, it seems like all of your pores are sweating–except for the ones down there. A classic symptom of menopause, vaginal dryness occurs in part because your body is stopping its production of estrogen. "Once ovulation ceases, the amount of estrogen in your system really plummets because your ovaries are not making estrogen anymore, or they're making little of it," says Dr. Dweck. And its estrogen that keeps vaginal tissue lubricated, hence the sudden desert-like feeling you're now experiencing.
The difference between hot flashes and vaginal dryness, though? Hot flashes and night sweats tend to go away as you move past menopause, whereas vaginal dryness will gradually increase. "The vaginal dryness changes get worse, and they're chronic and progressive if not dealt with," says Dr. Dweck. Vaginal dryness can lead to painful sex, which means the key is to tackle it early on.
Sex after 50 solution
Now the good news: One of the best things you can do to combat vaginal dryness is to have sex. That's because lack of estrogen also affects pelvic blood flow, but having sex stimulates it, leading to more moisture in your vagina by rejuvenating cells in the region, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine.
If you're having regular sex and it's still painful for you, don't get worried just yet. You can try over-the-counter treatments, like lubricant or vaginal moisturizers. When it comes to lubricant, the biggest thing is to experiment with a few to find which one works for you, says Dr. Minkin. "Figure out which texture, smell, and feel you like and then buy in bulk," she adds.
Another option are vaginal moisturizers, which you insert into your vagina every two to three days and work on a long-lasting basis. Try a brand like Replens, says Dr. Minkin, and still use lubricant at the time of intercourse. "They tend to work a little bit better together," she adds. If the OTC route doesn't do the trick, make an appointment with your doctor who may prescribe a vaginal estrogen prescription (which typically come as creams or suppositories).
Your libido will probably change
But that doesn't necessarily mean for the worse. In fact, a lot of women experience having a highersex drive in their 50s. "Sometimes in that perimenopausal time when you're approaching menopause but you haven't lost your period for a full year (and this can sometimes take upwards of 10 years) women will have a high testosterone level, which translates into a high libido," says Dr. Dweck.
If you're experiencing the opposite and find yourself having nodesire to do the dirty, that's extremely common, too. For a lot of women, that lack of desire can stem from other vaginal-related problems, like dryness, so treating that symptom can have a domino effect on improving your libido. If vaginal dryness is not an issue, you might just need a little help getting your engine revved.
Sex after 50 solution
The natural ebb and flow of your hormones after 50 can mess with your libido, Dr. Minkin says, and to combat this, she occasionally prescribes testosterone. There isn't an FDA-approved testosterone for women specifically yet, but your doctor can order you testosterone using an alternative method through a compounding pharmacy (a pharmacy that makes drugs prescribed by doctors with patients that have specific needs not being met by commercial products), says Dr. Minkin.
And if your doc determines a prescription isn't right for you, you have other options to boost your libido naturally. Dr. Minkin says one of the best ways to help your libido liven up is to switch things up under the sheets. "Doing the same things for 30 or 40 years can get boring," she says. Try a new position, role play, or talk to your partner and new things you both want to try to make having sex more enticing. You could also try one of these sex toys for beginners.
You might feel differently about your body—and your partner's
Yes, your body is changing. For some women, this makes them feel sexier and ready to go when it comes to getting down. But for a lot of women, those changes can take a hit on their self-confidence. "Our society tends to revere youth as opposed to somebody who's older," says Dr. Minkin. "But that doesn't mean you can't feel sexy and be having sex."
Just as you’re aging, your partner is aging with you. And even if you're still madly in love after decades together, you might find yourself less attracted to them than you were at age 25. "Your partner may not be, unfortunately, paying much attention to himself or herself, and they may not be overwhelmingly attractive to you because they may not be taking care of themselves as well as they should be," says Dr. Minkin.
Sex after 50 solution
The key here—for both you and your partner—is to do the things that makeyoufeel healthiest and best in your own skin. One big component of this is staying fit. "If you have a lot of aching in your hips and back it's going to be hard to have sex," says Dr. Minkin. "If you go to the gym regularly and keep yourself fit, you'll be a lot fitter for sex, too." The data agrees: A past study published in theNew England Journal of Medicineshowed that men and women between the ages of 57 to 85 who were considered in excellent of very good health were twice as likely to be sexually active than those in fair or poor health.
You'll have fewer distractions
Life before menopause has a lotof distractions that can interfere with sex. Things like getting your period every month (bummer), fear of getting pregnant if you're not looking to expand your family (double bummer), or figuring out a time to have sex during the constant carousel of having and raising kids (a logistical nightmare) can all get in the way of an active sex life. While life is still busy after 50–and not everyone will be done with the hassle of getting a monthly menses–the majority of women will be, says Dr. Dweck.
"It's the freedom from cramps, it's the freedom from bloating with ovulation, it's the freedom from having to take a week out of sexual life because you're having your period and some women don't like to have sex on their periods," says Dr. Dweck. "All those things that go along with menstruation are feelings of liberation that women after menstruation have." And with your kids out of the nest you can count on more alone time for you and your partner, and a new sense of privacy to enjoy, adds Dr. Minkin.
You might be more inspired to experiment
Sure, there's some boredom with sex after being with the same person for so long, but that means there's all the more reason for you to embrace the urge to try new things. "When people know each other so well, there can be a boredom factor. But you also may know what that person would (or would not) like better than they know themselves," says Dr. Minkin. "It's important to have open channels of communication."
That communication can lead to trying new things and bringing new experiences into the relationship. "Consider [having sex] in an alternate location or using toys," suggests Dr. Dweck.
This new phase of life may also create an opportunity to experiment with yourself. Dr. Dweck says to embrace this curiosity and try a vibrator. Aside from feeling good, vibrators have benefits that can improve your sex life in other ways, too. "Medically speaking, they are known to enhance the blood supply and blood flow to the genital region," says Dr. Dweck. Try these expert-approved sex toys for couples.
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