One of the things I’ve really appreciated about leading MiddlesexMD is the opportunity to connect with a network of others who are providing support to both women and men as they manage their health through midlife—including maintaining sexual health and intimate relationships. Hearing from colleagues representing the man’s perspective can support open, two-way conversations about the changing nature of intimacy.
Okay, so you’ve gone through menopause, and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Along with changes like weight gain and irritability, you now also have doubts and fears about things you haven’t before. Questions like “am I still desirable?” or “am I going to want to get intimate?” are common among women going through menopause.
While medical professionals and menopause resources can help alleviate some of your fears, sometimes that’s not enough. If you are in a relationship, you may need to hear your partner’s opinions as well. Some significant others may be hesitant to give their feedback, either because they fear offending you or they're still working to represent their own feelings and fears.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve answers. That’s why we’ve put together a few things that your significant other may want you to know about intimacy with you after going through menopause.
They feel undesirable sometimes
Your significant other can feel as if you no longer desire them. Why? The hormonal changes that occur with menopause, the decrease in estrogen that you’re producing, can cause vaginal dryness, decrease libido, and affect how long it takes you to get aroused. All of this can lead your partner to have self-doubt in their desirability, despite knowing the cause of these symptoms.
That’s why it’s essential to keep up constant communication. Let your partner know that you do indeed want them and that it has nothing to do with their desirability. Also, let them know if you’re having similar feelings. Talking about sex and intimacy can feel awkward at first, but in the end is very helpful: everyone should have a sex life they are happy with.
They still like being intimate
Since menopause can decrease how much you want to have sex, you can feel a bit out of practice when you decide to start again. The lack of consistency can affect your confidence and decrease your desire to have sex even more. However, that’s not something you need to worry about. No matter how long you’ve gone without sexual intercourse, your partner will be excited to get things going again.
The love they have for you transcends any fears you may have about your prowess in the bedroom. Although sex won’t be exactly the same as when you were in your 20s, that doesn’t mean it won’t be as good or even better with the right tips. Experiencing menopause symptoms can give you a certain freedom and creativity that you didn’t have previously.
They don’t mind switching things up
As mentioned before, intercourse probably won’t be the same as your pre-menopause days. You may have to change positions or use things that you’ve never considered before. Like most things, having a routine of sorts can get a little dull. Switching things up can bring some passion into the bedroom and make your partner feel desired again. You shouldn’t be ashamed to incorporate vibrators into the bedroom or new positions that are more comfortable.
Switching up your routine can also be an effective way to combat sexual roadblocks for you and your partner. Even though men don’t go through menopause like women, they still can experience sexual difficulties with age, such as erectile dysfunction. These difficulties can begin to affect your time together. While using ED meds can help improve their situation, switching things up in the bedroom can be a helpful addition as it can enhance both of your libidos. Maintaining open lines of communication can help both of you determine your struggles and decide how to switch things up.
Intimacy doesn’t always mean sex
It’s easy to feel sometimes pressured to have sex, but intimacy goes beyond that. Sometimes all your partner needs is a nice cuddle session to feel connected to you. Intimacy encompasses anything that fosters a strong connection between you and your significant other. If you aren’t in the mood, be transparent with your partner about why and offer an alternative.
Maybe this means going on dates again, or even just doing something that you both love. This can help increase emotional intimacy and provide your significant other with the intimacy they crave— just in a different way.
Long story short…
Menopause can wreak havoc on many aspects of your life, your relationship being one of them. With the right tools and enough dedication, the symptoms you experience do not have to control your life. If you need a safe space to talk to people having similar situations, consider joining a Facebook group for menopausal women.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.