By Bunmi Sofola
For some women, hitting the menopause could kill off their sex life. “For almost 30 years, I had a great sex life with the man I eventually married,” said Oge, now 54, and a matron in a private hospital. “I’d had beautiful orgasms with him most of the time until two yeas ago when I reached menopause and my orgasms simply disappeared.
My background was a bit strict and I was very naive when I started dating my future husband, I was already in nursing school and had no idea what a naked man looked like so when I first touched a naked man and saw his reaction, I was slightly frightened.
“The few times we tried sex, I was fully dressed in bed. Then, after we got married, I experienced my first orgasm and 1 was hooked! Any sexual inhibitions I had were lost. A couple of years ago, I started to get hot flushes and sweats. I would start feeling tense and found it hard to orgasm. It was really frustrating. I was so used to climaxing every time 1 had sex—once every two weeks on average—that it wasn’t fun when I couldn’t. I was so upset that my husband was having all the fun that I unfairly blame him for my anger. I started to think that there was no point having sex unless I was achieving orgasm.
“I discussed my plight with my best friend and she encouraged me to try a vibrator with a lubricant. She went further than that and got me a rampant rabbit when next she travelled. I had never been that good at pleasuring myself, but with the vibrator, I could satisfy myself without the help of a man. With my husband, I found that I could move myself on to reaching orgasms again. Now my sex drive is back to normal and my orgasms are back!”
“For me, the worst side effect of the menopause was vaginal dryness as sex became very uncomfortable,” confessed Tara, a 60-year-old textile merchant. “I’ve been with my partner for some eight years now and sex is really important for both of us, but I started avoiding it—I guess because of the pain. I felt really guilty I was short-changing my partner.
I didn’t confess what was happening to me at first, but when he knew, he was very patient because he knew I felt more pain than pleasure when we had sex. My doctor encouraged me to try some lubricants that are wildly available, and a friend recommended KY Jelly and that was fine. This friend then got me another KY brand called Replens—which is a liquid you apply internally. I’ve since switched to a much better one by Durex called Senselle. It is a liquid you squirl up inside you and it’s made all the difference.
“My partner and I have both since discovered that another way to increase moistness is to place more emphasis on foreplay before sex. Now when we have sex I stimulate myself to increase my natural lubrication. At least I’ve realized that because of menopause, I need to stimulate myself to increase my natural lubrication—and this takes time. So we use plenty of lubrication for sex”and it is heartening for me to know that my sex life is now back to normal!”
What to expect at menopause:
According to experts, most menopausal women will suffer from vaginal dryness to some degree. It is perfectly normal and is due to hormonal changes. If sexual intercourse becomes painful, then lubricants are a good way forward. Increased foreplay and masturbation helps increase natural lubrication. If sex is still painful see your doctor who may prescribe hormone replacement therapy, which might help.
The menopause is the end of a woman’s reproductive life when the ovaries stop producing eggs and periods end. It usually occurs between ages 48 and 54. During ‘the change’ the ovaries produce less of the sex hormones Oestrogen, which can cause vaginal dryness. Other symptoms can include flagging sex drive, hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia and headaches. It can also make some women feel that they are past their best or undesirable. Many women, however, can enjoy a healthy sex life well into old age.