#SexColumn: Sex during menopause
By Sharon Gordon
As women I believe, we get the rawest deal when it comes to perfectly natural biological functions. Think about it – as soon as puberty hits we grow breasts and hair in places we’d rather not have. Menstruation which will last for as long as our fertile years. Child bearing during those same years, Mammograms become a part of your health regime and then joy of joys once you’ve done all that – Menopause!
Menopause is defined as the point in time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to the natural depletion of ovarian oocytes from ageing. The diagnosis is typically made retrospectively after the woman has missed menses for 12 consecutive months. Your doctor can check your hormone levels and make a diagnosis as well.
This bundle of biological joy should start in your early 50s, but this is not cast in stone. It might be earlier, and it might be later, we are all different. Mine started right on time 52! Now that we are not dying in our 30s this menopause thing seems to last longer than it was ever intended to.
As I am the oldest in my set of friends, I am generally the first and found it incredibly lonely with no one to ask ‘Am I normal?’ When I complain about skin texture, sagging boobs and needing a face lift, I am fobbed off as being ridiculous but 10 years later they are all joining the choir!
I have taken to asking everyone I can, of a certain age! I think my menopause has been relatively easy in comparison to some women I have spoken to.
I was sitting in a coffee shop when a woman sitting opposite me started to glow. I mean really light up. The redness rose from her cleavage up her neck and to her face. Followed by sever sweating. She removed every item of clothes she could. By the time this event was over about 15 minutes had passed. She was literally sitting in a puddle of sweat.
I have never had that happen during the day – I turn into a radiator at night. Thank heavens for my pool. I swim 3 or 4 times during the night to cool down. If there is no pool the tiled bathroom floor works almost as well.
In the months or years leading up to menopause, you might experience these signs and symptoms:
Sleep problem – insomnia, disturbed sleep or waking early
Weight gain and slowed metabolism.
Pain circumstances: can occur during sexual intercourse
Whole body: fatigue, night sweats, osteoporosis,
Hair: dryness or loss of scalp hair or a combination of all of the above.
Also common: anxiety, dry skin, irritability, moodiness, reduced sex drive.
And there we have it – reduced sex drive. Like we don’t have enough to contend with we don’t want to have sex and the chances of your partner understanding is very little.
I didn’t notice the lack of libido for a long while. For me these night sweats were the worst symptom but manageable (with the pool and bathroom floor).
I’ve never been a great sleeper so I didn’t think anything of the worsening patterns.
My vaginal wall was starting to tear when I had sex. Not sexy and very painful. My lovely doctor did all the tests and confirmed that menopause was upon me. We had to come up with a plan!
I went the HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) route. I’m impatient and needed a quick solution. I battled to find the right hormone and get tested every 12 months to see how things are going. Starting HRT was like going on the pill all over again. My breasts got really sensitive and sore. I bloated like a balloon and got mega headaches. Once the hormones had settled it got back to normal but there were a good 6 months of trial and error.
Treatment often depends on severity of your symptoms and you and your doctor or gynie need to discuss your options. I have met women who have decided on the homeopathic route. Some have had great success and others not so much.
Nothing stops menopause – treatments only offer symptomatic relief.
The easiest of these symptoms to treat is vaginal dryness. A good lube and an oestrogen cream makes a world of difference. I use Pjur Repair Glide, an over the counter lubricant available from Lola Montez or online. Any lubricant will do but not all lubricants are equal! If you want me to ‘grill’ use a cheap lube that goes sticky! Gross!
The worst symptom for me is the lack of libido. It was one of the #sexcolumn published earlier this year. I have religiously followed a regime and honestly the only thing that seems to be working is increasing my exercise regime.
Night after night I heat my entire house and I’ve started to wonder just how long this is going to last.
Most women experience hot flashes for 6 months to 2 years, although some reports suggest that they last considerably longer—as long as 10 years, depending on when they began. For a small proportion of women, they may never go away. I think I fall into the latter category. It seems to me that this is going to go on forever!
At the Ladies Night I spoke about last week, menopause came up as a subject we know nothing about. Maybe we should start speaking about it and asking questions like why can’t it be stopped and why can’t it be managed better?
What frustrates me is that it is just another joke at a woman’s expense and there is very little we can do to stop it, especially the mood swings. I have to wonder if men had to experience menopause if research wouldn’t be much further along? But hey we still don’t know much about the clitoris, so I don’t think it’s going to be solved in my lifetime!
I’d love to hear how you are coping with menopause and if you have any tips for the readers. Email me – [email protected]