Sexuality and U
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Sexual Health

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Aging Women and Sex

 

There is no age limit on sex for women. Although older women may become aroused more slowly than younger ones, many find that their desire increases when they no longer have to worry about being interrupted by young children or about getting pregnant. Most older women, especially those who remain sexually active, retain the ability to have normal orgasms. But as women age, their bodies change and so do their sexual organs.

Menopause and Lubrication

After menopause, women’s bodies produce less estrogen (the female hormone). The lower estrogen level creates some physical changes that may affect sexual activity. You may find that it takes longer for your vagina to swell and lubricate when you’re sexually aroused. Your vagina also becomes less elastic. This may make intercourse less comfortable or even painful. Some women even avoid sex because they find it less pleasurable than before. You shouldn’t have to suffer through painful intercourse just because your natural lubrication just isn’t doing the job. There are other ways to make entry smooth and enjoyable. There are many practices and products that can help stimulate your natural lubrication: 

Use a lubricant. Water-based sexual lubricants or lubricants made specifically for the older woman are widely available. These come in gels and suppositories, and should be applied liberally to the vagina just prior to sex.

Enjoy getting there. Make foreplay a focus. Applying a lubricant can make a wonderful addition to foreplay. And spending a little more time on foreplay can set you up to be more responsive, interested and excited about sex.

Moisturize yourself. Vaginal moisturizers also help increase vaginal moisture and elasticity.

Have sex more often

The more you have sex that includes vaginal penetration, the easier it is for you to maintain lubrication and elasticity.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy taken short-term for control of distressing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, will often relieve vaginal dryness. After stopping oral or transdermal hormone therapy you may need to consider local intra vaginal therapy to avoid vaginal dryness and discomfort. Local estrogen applied into the vagina will usually enhance blood flow to the vaginal area thereby improving both sensation and lubrication with minimal risk during longer term treatment. There are three ways to take topical intravaginal estrogen:

  • Vaginal ring: a small silastic ring that releases the correct amount of estrogen for optimal vaginal health. The ring is inserted high into the vagina and is left in place for three months .
  • Tablet: a small estrogen tablet that is inserted into the vagina twice weekly.
  • Cream: Conjugated estrogen cream which is inserted with a small applicator twice weekly
Decreased desire

After menopause, women’s bodies also produce less testosterone, the male hormone. Testosterone plays an important role in creating sexual thoughts and arousal in both men and women. Declining levels of testosterone often make your desire for sex less strong. This is normal, but it doesn’t mean that your desire goes away completely. While there are hormone replacement options for testosterone as well as for estrogen, there are also associated risks. Talk to your doctor before considering any form of hormone therapy.

A decrease in desire can also be related to a number of other factors, such as depression,  stress, fatigue or the use of some medications (for example some high-blood pressure medications and some anti-depressants). If you think that you or your partner’s loss of sex drive is a side effect of a prescribed medication, do not stop taking it on your own, but talk to your doctor.

However, a decrease in desire may just mean that you need to find new ways to keep your sex-life fun and exciting. Making it a priority will help keep you and your partner close and connected. Deal with any problems or challenges as they arise and don’t be afraid to experiment. While sex might take a little bit more effort and commitment, from the both of you, that doesn’t mean it’s any less pleasurable. 

Body image

Some women are not comfortable with the way their bodies are aging. They may feel that their new wrinkles, grey hairs, or weight gain make them unattractive. This will have an effect on their ability to seek out and enjoy intimacy. If you are struggling with your self-image, remember that your vitality, sensuality and desire to love don’t fade as the years progress. Passion, about yourself and your partner, is still an important part of your life. And passion, about yourself, your partner and your life, begets passion. Being attractive and sensual does not fade with age, it just changes.

  • Focus on your strengths.
  • Be creative in finding ways to make yourself feel more attractive. Take a little extra time with yourself as you get ready in the mornings to greet the day. Wear perfume (if that’s what you like); buy some special lingerie or undergarments. Pamper yourself and your body.
  • Focus on giving and receiving pleasure.