Great question. I wish I had a succinct answer for you, but there are a number of factors unique to each individual.
The biggest factor is whether you are pre- or post-menopausal. If you’ve passed menopause (one year without a menstrual period) since last being sexually active, then you may be in a completely “new ball game.” If you are still premenopausal, then you have likely lost nearly nothing in the intervening 12 years.
Any idea on the status of things based on a recent pelvic exam? (Here’s why it’s important to maintain a regular check-in with your primary care provider [PCP].) Do you use a vibrator? If so, can you you insert it comfortably? Generally, we say if you can insert two fingertips into the vagina you can likely have penetrative sex. You could explore this yourself.
You may want to make an appointment with your gynecologist or PCP to ask this specific question. If you’re “not ready,” then you can ask what it might take to get there, based on your specific starting point and health history.
Using moisturizers in advance may help, and I’d encourage you to anticipate by having a great lube conveniently located.
Most of all, take your time and enjoy!
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.