Sex and menopause
Dear Ate Anna:
I would like your help. When my husband and I try to be intimate together, I feel a lot of pain inside my body. This is a new problem and started around my 50th birthday. Other than this problem I am a strong and healthy woman.
Thank you for your message! It is always a good idea to see your health care provider if you feel changes in your body, especially ones that cause pain. Your health care provider may be able to help you in a number of ways.
It is possible that the pain you are feeling is connected to menopause. Menopause is a process that happens to every female. Menopause usually begins after the age of 45, although some can experience menopause much earlier or later than that. During menopause our body begins to produce less of a hormone called estrogen.
When our bodies produce less estrogen, we feel the effects in many ways. Our periods will come less often, or they will stop completely. We may have trouble with sleeping or with “hot flashes,” where we suddenly feel very warm for no reason. These changes are normal, though they may feel uncomfortable. Menopause also decreases the amount of blood flow to our vagina when we are sexually aroused. When less blood flows to the vagina, our body may have a harder time building lubrication during intimate times. Lubrication refers to the slippery substance your body builds in the vagina when we are sexually turned on. Without this lubrication, we may notice that the vagina is drier. Having intimate times when your vagina feels dry may cause sex to be painful.
There are a few things you can do to help this problem. First, your health care provider may be able to prescribe medication that decreases menopausal symptoms. If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, you can try using a lubricant. Lubricants are slippery gels that you can buy at any pharmacy. Placing lubricant in and around the vagina, and on the penis also, may provide relief to this problem.
It is important to know that some kinds of lubricants should not be used with condoms, as they can make the condom weaker and less effective. We recommend using lubricants that are water-based, which are safe for condoms (and sex toys also, for those who use them).
I hope this information helps, and that you find the relief you need!
Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200-226 Osborne St. N., Winnipeg, MB R3C 1V4 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit us at www.serc.mb.ca. for reliable information and links on the subject of sexuality.