Valentine’s day is almost upon us so let’s consider love, affection and menopause

Jane Midwinter is the founder of HotWomenAtMenopause, an associate trainer with Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace and is a menopause coach. She also writes articles on menopause for women and their employers.

Jane’s monthly column, specially written for Hastings in Focus, offers accurate information and support for women and a better understanding of menopause for all.

It may be the month of love and affection – climaxing on St Valentine’s Day – but for many women, this can be a sensitive subject.  So, let’s talk … sex and relationships!

Six facts about sex and relationships from a Menopause perspective:

  • Women are becoming increasingly sexually active well into their 70s and beyond.
  • Fluctuating and declining levels of oestrogen and testosterone may increase or decrease your sex drive (libido).
  • Male sexual problems – loss of libido and erectile difficulties – are often overlooked.
  • Being healthy in mind and body can increase an interest in sex.
  • Forty per cent women experience decreased libido during menopause.
  • Hormone imbalances at menopause can cause symptoms such as insomnia, mood swings, irritability, brain fog, anxiety and depression – to name but a few.  Some women find that it is these symptoms that impact their sex life.

FAQs:

Sex just feels like too much of an effort and I’m dry and itchy down there anyway!  Before menopause my husband and I had a healthy sex life. We still enjoy each other’s company, but this is beginning to put pressure on our relationship. What can I do?

Because sex was something you both enjoyed prior to menopause and you still enjoy each other’s company, which contributes to a good relationship, your low libido may be due to changes in your hormone levels – primarily oestrogen and testosterone. 

Lower levels of oestrogen can lead to less lubrication, itching and even pain during intercourse. Some women use a vaginal oestrogen to help combat natural thinning of the vaginal walls. If HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is a consideration, your GP can advise what is right for you. ‘YES, YES, YES’ and ‘SYLK’ both provide natural, intimate lubricant and vaginal moisturisers to alleviate vaginal dryness and itchiness.  

If HRT is not your choice, your GP will be able to advise you of other options. If you are going to go down the alternative, supplementary or herbal route, always speak with a qualified therapist first.

I don’t feel sexy anymore! My partner is going through menopause at the same time as me, but she doesn’t understand because she doesn’t have symptoms.

A loving, respectful relationship is important to be able to discuss things that worry or affect you or your partner. Going through menopause together can be hugely helpful, however, women experience menopause differently and your partner may be one of the lucky women who doesn’t experience any symptoms at all! 

Talking with your partner about how you feel is crucial in helping her to understand. Referring to accurate information together, may also help. We often think we won’t be listened to, but that’s not usually the case, as long as we are in a mutually respectful relationship and pick the right time for a chat. Writing down a few bullet points with some possible solutions could also help. Knowledge is power. Sharing that knowledge is wisdom.

Some days I want to leave my husband, let alone have sex with him!  Other days I love him dearly and feel dreadfully guilty. I’ve been on HRT for a while so what’s going on.

Mood swings and irritability are common symptoms of menopause. HRT can level out those symptoms but speak with your GP to see if your HRT treatment may need tweaking. There are many different types of HRT available, so a change to your prescription could be possible.

Could these emotions be down to anything else? Are there any unresolved issues from the past that are impacting on your mood and relationship now? Maybe not, but talking to your husband about how you are feeling might be a good place to start. 

Dr Christiane Northrup, in The Wisdom of Menopause writes: “Our psychological states affect our biological responses.” Psychosexual therapy or psychosexual counselling can be effective. If this is something you want to pursue, ask your GP for information and ensure that any sex therapist you see is qualified and abides by the code of ethics of a professional body.   

Mood swings can be due to hormonal imbalance and there are many treatment options and lifestyle choices which can help.  However, it is important for mental and physical health to seek the advice of a medical practitioner if symptoms worsen or persist.

And finally…

Low libido during menopause is usually temporary and some women may just need a little extra support during this transitional time.  Finding the root cause and addressing it is key to healthy, romantic, and intimate relationships, that last long into our ‘golden years’. 

Chocolate Mousse – A perfect Valentine’s Day pudding! 

This month, Helen Ford, Nutritional Therapist, foodie and passionate cook, shares with us her recipe for Chocolate Tofu Mousse, full of phytoestrogens for balancing hormones and boosting libido!  

Full recipe for Helen’s Chocolate Mousse: https://www.helenfordnutrition.co.uk/chocolate-tofu-mousse

Helpful links and information sources:

For Hot Women at Menopause click the link below

For Henpicked click the link below

For Women’s Health Concern click the link below

https://sylk.co.uk/

https://www.kathyabernethy.com/

https://www.mymenopausalvagina.co.uk/

https://thebms.org.uk/

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