Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can provide encouragement for your partner, because you can exercise or plan healthy meals together. Encourage her to treat other menopausal symptoms Your partner may have special health needs in the menopausal period, and it is important that you are aware of these needs and support her. You can help by being knowledgeable about the various treatments available and helping her assess the pros and cons of various treatments.
Offer to accompany her to see a doctor You can also provide support by accompanying her to the doctor. A health professional is your best source of advice about menopause and can also offer advice about a range of treatments which may be effective in relieving the symptoms of menopause, including sexual dysfunction.
However, some women may not visit a doctor because they are afraid to discuss the symptoms or even because they are afraid to admit they are experiencing the symptoms and menopause. It is best for menopausal women to visit the doctor with their partner, as it helps the doctor to assess how the relationship is affecting her symptoms, and enables the man to play an active role in the treatment process. Offering to accompany a menopausal partner to the doctor is an important way of supporting her.
She may be more willing to make the visit simply because she has a support person. You can also help by investigating where appropriate health professionals can be found, for example by finding out if there is a menopause nurse at the local family planning clinic, or investigating the resources available in the obstetrics and gynaecology department of the local hospital.
Unlike her friends and family, your will also notice any changes in her libido or sexual response. All these changes can cause concern and anxiety, and you may wonder what you are doing wrong. It can also help you to be a more understanding partner and better express your support.
The sexual symptoms of menopause typically include: Vaginal dryness; Dyspareunia pain during intercourse ; and Reduce skin sensitivity and arousal. For example, a woman who has poor quality sleep because of hot flushes may experience reduced libido because she is tired.
Women may experience symptoms before their menstrual cycle changes and symptoms typically persist for several years. Instead of blaming your partner, try to think of menopause and its symptoms as a stage of life that a couple experiences and faces together. Think about what you can do to help your partner cope, rather than focusing on changes she could make.
Take the lead in communicating with her about her menopause experience. It is also a way for you to show your support and that you care and pay attention to the way she acts. Women whose desire declines may be concerned that their partners feel unloved or are looking for other women. Women who experience increased sexual desire which is perfectly normal, although less common than reduced libido may feel confused because ageing bodies are not typically viewed as sexual.
It is an opportunity for you both to reassure each other that the sexual changes are not because of reduced feelings of intimacy and love. Also ask about her preferences for sexual activities now she is in the menopausal period. You may find that some aspects of sex from earlier years may have improved for her. Discuss possible strategies for improving your sex life with your partner, and be ready to make some practical suggestions. You may also start a discussion about treatments that can relieve the sexual symptoms of menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy is effective in relieving sexual symptoms in most women, and there are also treatments available for male sexual dysfunctions , including erectile dysfunction. Talk about your relationship Problems with the intimate relationship or a lack of social support may worsen psychological symptoms e.
Try to talk with your partner about any issues in your intimate relationship, and think about how you can deal with these. For example, consider practical steps you can take to improve your relationship, like spending more time together.
Some couples may benefit from relationship counselling to address issues such as lack of trust. Talk about her emotional health Menopause is a time of significant emotional upheavals for women, and these changes may also influence her sexual function.
For example, a menopausal woman may be coping with changes to her maternal role because of children leaving home. Talk to your partner about these changes and how she is holding up emotionally. Just talking may help, although other strategies may be needed if she is experiencing severe emotional changes which are negatively affecting her daily life or relationships. For example, she may need some special attention, and you can encourage and help her to: Put aside special time for herself; Do something special; Surround herself with supportive friends; Take on new roles in life, such as joining an interest group or doing charity work; and Talk to her doctor if she experiences severe emotional symptoms.
These changes may cause women to feel less confident about their body image. Society tends to value young bodies more than older bodies, and often equate the normal changes that occur as a woman ages e. You can help by reassuring her that the changes she is experiencing are normal, and encouraging her to be positive about her body.
You may therefore be able to boost your sex life by promoting good self-esteem in the menopausal period. You can encourage and help your partner to: Focus on the good, not the bad; Identify achievements she has made throughout her life, and focus on these if she feels low; Challenge unrealistic expectations, for example about her body shape or the ageing process; Set realistic goals; Join an interest group or do volunteer work.
Cultural factors such as diet, lifestyle, economic status and life expectancy can also influence her menopausal experience and her sexuality in the menopausal period. Encourage her to do the same. Be positive about menopause Be positive about menopause and focus on how the changes it is catalysing may teach you and your partner new ways of enjoying and supporting each other. Sexual factors Vary your sex life Sexual feelings change as men and women age, so it follows that the types of sex that feel best will also have to change.
Typically, men and women take longer to become aroused and have more difficulty becoming aroused. This may mean that you need to spend more time on foreplay before penetrative sex.
It is important to take the view that changes to sex life and sexual functioning are normal and can be positive. What happens in the menopausal period does not matter as long as both partners are satisfied. Try to find new ways to display affection and intimacy that make both of you feel desirable. For some couples, that may mean putting penetrative sex on hold and just kissing and cuddling for a while, or spicing up your sex life with sexual enhancement products like dildos, lubricants and erotic film or literature.
Consider how your sexual function influences her sexual experience Sexual problems including hypogonadism testosterone deficiency and erectile dysfunction are more common amongst ageing men. As men typically instigate sex, changes to his libido may have a significant impact on the frequency of sex. If he feels like sex less and initiates it less, frequency will decline unless his partner begins to initiate sex. Feelings of rejection or fear of causing your partner pain may also stop you from initiating sex, even if you feel like it.
Keep having sex Sexual stimulation promotes vaginal elasticity and may promote improved sexual function in menopausal women, who typically experience declining vaginal elasticity. Encourage your partner to keep having sex. Self—stimulation also helps improves vaginal elasticity, so her masturbating may ultimately improve your sex life!
Think about sex The brain is an important sexual organ, and thinking about sex increases sexual desire. To overcome this problem, try to dedicate some special time for being together and being intimate. This may involve sex if you are in the mood. Sex is also likely to be different compared to the pre-menopausal period.
Each couple has different feelings, and what is right for one couple is not necessarily right for the next. Focus on what you and your partner want, and evaluate whether or not your sex life is satisfying in these terms. Most couples do not want to become pregnant at this time of life, and pregnancies in menopausal women carry a high risk of complications such as birth defects.
You can play a role in helping your partner with contraception , for example by reminding her that she can still get pregnant, willingly using condoms , or exploring a range of contraceptive options which might be appropriate in the peri-menopausal period. For more information on contraception, including types of contraception, protecting against sexuallly transmitted infections, and contraception after childbirth, see Contraception Birth Control.
Beware of sexually transmitted infections Although women no longer have to worry about conception once they have passed menopause, sexually transmitted infections still present a risk.
As the post-menopausal vagina is more susceptible to trauma compared to pre-menopause, the risk of sexually transmitted infections may also increase. More information For more information on menopause, including symptoms and management of menopause, as well as some useful animations and videos, see Menopause. Reference Burbos N, Morris E. Sexual function and the menopausal woman: The importance of age and partner sexual functioning. Canadian consensus conference on menopause, update.
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National Health Services; 18 September [cited 1 September ]. The impact of menopause: Implications for mental health counselors. J Ment Health Couns. Sex, menopause and social context: A qualitative study with heterosexual women.
Management of libido problems in menopause. Emotional health at midlife and menopause [online]. Complementary approaches to menopausal symptoms: RCN guidance for nurses, midwives and health visitors [online].
Royal College of Nursing; 2 October [cited 25 July ]. URL link Managing menopause: What do women think about menopause?