There is no age limit on sexuality but for women over 50, sexual satisfaction may not be so obvious. According to the North American Menopause Society, hormonal changes at menopause can affect a woman’s sexual response. Low estrogen levels can result in vaginal dryness, causing discomfort during sex. And in some women, lower testosterone levels can also mean a lack of energy and a weaker sex drive.
However, that doesn’t mean we, midlifers, have to stop exploring and have fun. We spoke to Dr Sherry Ross, Women’s Health expert, author of the book She-ology, and co-founder URJA Intimates skincare to find out what sex is really like after turning 50 and what we can do to spice up our midlife between the sheets.
Despite life’s expected obstacles and hormonal challenges, a sexual and intimate life reminds you that your body deserves to be celebrated and enjoyed. – she says to CrunchyTales-. As they enter this challenging time in their lives, women have to become more creative, adventurous and step outside their comfort zone They need to embrace and learn how to live with their new normal.
Taking good care of ourselves through diet and exercise, using the right lubricants and sex toys, enjoying more foreplay while communicating openly with our partner may be the best steps for our sexual rebooting.
Lubricate and moisturize your lady parts
Whether is self-pleasure or partner pleasure, having regular sexual activity with vaginal stimulation helps keep the tissue naturally moisturized. However, being bombarded with physical and emotional symptoms typical of menopause can directly affect our mood in the bedroom. “Many women would rather be doing the laundry than having sex with their partner“, explains Dr Sherry. “This can create a lot of disruption in a relationship and over 30% of women stop having sex altogether“.
Restoring the pH balance of our intimate parts by using both dermatologically tested and gynecologically approved products daily (better if formulated with natural ingredients) could boost our overall experience.
“There is nothing worse than a dry vagina, inside out“, says Dr Sherry. “We must take care of our Lady Parts as we age in order to make sexual intimacy something we look forward to, instead of regretting, by hydrating and moisturize the vulva and vagina with the same discipline and daily routine as you do your face.”
A routine that, according to her, should start decades before menopause. “Hydrating and moisturizing the vagina with hyaluronic acid in your 30s and 40s will prevent some of the common problems associated with the hormonal midlife crisis that happens in the bedroom“.
What’s more, “since vaginal dryness is common in menopausal women, causing a burning sensation inside, especially during intercourse, a great lubricant should be part of your sexual routine“. Dr Sherry recommends Intense Hydrating Lubricant by URJA Intimates made from extra virgin coconut oil, Passion Flower, Schisandra berry and CBD to make intimacy more enjoyable and comfortable.
Keep fit for better sex
Let’s face it, when you feel better about yourself with your clothes on, the chances are you’ll feel the same with your clothes off. Our sex drive is affected by many variables including how we feel about ourselves both physically and mentally.
“Taking care of yourself should be high on your priority list -says Dr Sherry-. Women going through menopause tend to feel less attractive, less desirable and worry about their physical relationship with their partner“.
According to her, exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day and, limiting your alcohol intake, are the best ways to help our metabolism when it starts to slow down.
“Eating 200-300 calories less a day is often needed to maintain your same body weight. Ideally, you want to keep your BMI under 25 for optimal health. Combining a well-balanced plant-based diet, limiting red meat and high-fat dairy intake and consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats supports an active sex life and also promotes healthy ageing“.
In particular, food’s high in antioxidants, flavonoids and nitrates such as fruits and beetroots will also support sexual health and libido. Red wine, in moderation, increases sexual desire and functioning, too.
Get creative with sex toys and foreplay
The right amount of foreplay to become sexually aroused and good communication with your partner will work wonders in midlife.
However, Dr Sherry emphasises that the hormonal and vaginal changes that happen with menopause tend to make having an orgasm much harder. “Less blood flow to the vulva, vagina and clitoris cause thinning and shrinking of the tissue along with vaginal dryness and reduced sensitivity to your sweet spot. Orgasms may be less intense, take longer to achieve or not happen at all for some women. Sexual lubricants and daily topical moisturizing of the vulva and vagina are steps in the right direction. Oral and topical estrogen, DHEA vaginally, vaginal hyaluronic acid and laser therapy are some of the more common treatment options“.
So, what can we do to improve our experience? Sex toys often open up a whole new world to women, making them feel in control of their “bedroom destiny“.
“Vibrators have long been a taboo yet are the best-kept secret. The time is now to bring the vibrator out of the closet as it’s really a woman’s best friend especially in midlife – she explains-. It’s exciting to know over 50% of women own and use them regularly“.
According to Dr Sherry, vibrators have been created for them to learn even more about their bodies and details of their sexual pleasure: “They help us navigate our sexual hotspots more easily and, sometimes more efficiently. Also, they can stimulate the clitoris in a way that makes achieving orgasm much easier and faster. The more women know about their own orgasms the more control they will gain, not only with pleasing themselves but also in their ability to express it to their partner“.
It’s so important to make sure the vibrator you buy is safe to use, though. That means it should be free of toxic chemicals such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl and jelly rubber which contain harmful phthalates toxins. Also, you want to make sure the vibrator may not cause any trauma to your lady parts.
“Avoid vibrators that are made from absorbent, spongy, permeable or porous materials since they increase the risk of bacteria buildup which can cause yeast or urinary tract infections. Also, remember to always wash your vibrator with warm water and soap after and between using it”.
There are many sex toys on the market: keep experimenting and exploring what suits your needs the best. Dr Sherry’s favourite one is the Vibrating Intimate Massager by she-ology.
Talk to your doctor
When intercourse and other forms of sexual contact become too stressful and painful, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider.
“Vaginal dryness, infrequent vaginal penetration, vaginal tears and lacerations are common causes of painful sex in midlife – says Dr Sherry-. Hormone replacement therapy, vaginal moisturizers like hyaluronic acid, sexual lubricants, vaginal estrogen, DHEA suppositories and Osphena, a non-estrogen oral therapy, can help with some of these problems“.
Achieving a better sex life is possible. Don’t despair and when in doubt reach out to professionals who can help you.