Being a woman we understand that there are stages, changes and developments in our lives which may impact us more than others, and two which spotlight the idea of transition are the starting and ending of our periods, namely puberty and menopause.
As with so many areas of intimate health, both can elicit feelings of difficulty and discomfort when it comes to conversations on the subject, but particularly the menopause, as at minimum, there is an element of sexual education when we are younger and starting our periods that this gets covered by.
The definition of menopause is ‘the exact point in your life when you have stopped having periods for a total of 12 months’.
The average age that women go through menopause in the UK is 51, but 1% of women under 40 will undergo early menopause, and even though we see that this is something that is majorly impacting women at whatever age and stage of their life, we still approach the subject as taboo.
Let me clarify that menopause is just another phase of a person's life; it's not the end, it doesn't have to be bad and culturally we should stop seeing it as something somehow negative.
I recently listened to an episode of The Hotbed Collective where they interviewed Meg Matthews who had described the menopause as the worst 18months of her life. So much though that she started a mission to try and help others who may have been feeling the same way as she did by providing support and education through her website.
The other thing that she highlighted was that there are at least 34 symptoms that may impact women in varying degrees and combinations dependent on the individual.
Masturbation is key
In this interview one of the pieces of advice I was so pleased to hear mentioned was that her gynaecologist had told her that she should continue masturbating as a way of keeping her vagina healthy and lubricated and also to keep her sexuality active; as one of the challenges of menopause can be that it’s harder to reach orgasm and that this can be even harder if you haven’t experienced sexual pleasure for a while.
Aside from this we know that orgasm offers the benefits of a flood of dopamine and oxytocin to the brain activating a reward response and basically making us feel good.
When either masturbating or having sex during this period of time when you are perimenopausal, menopausal or post-menopausal lubricant plays an important role here and I would highly recommend an organic or water-based product such as Sliquid Satin.
Avoid anything scented, flavoured or with added effects such as tingle as you do not want to cause any irritation. Vaginal dryness which can make penetration uncomfortable is a common side effect of menopause, which is why lubricant is so important and helpful. In terms of clitoral stimulation it can also add a change in texture which can be very pleasurable.
If you are interested in using sex toys during this time, either by yourself or with your partner then try something simple such as the Pom for clitoral stimulation; having orgasms is very good for the body at all ages.
You may also like: Do I Really Have to Moisturise?
As always consider foreplay and touch to be an essential part of your sexual routine if with a partner, and give yourself a bit more time if you are struggling to feel as aroused as usual. These hormonal changes can impact your sexual arousal and desire, but as we know sexual desire is responsive and doesn't depend only from hormones so give yourself an opportunity to enjoy being sexual with a partner.
Remember that sex has to be pleasurable; intercourse can create discomfort for many different reasons, at all ages, but if you really want to experience it anyway - even though you can have very pleasurable sexual activity even without it, you can try Ohnut a soft-buffer ring that alloys you to control the depth of penetration and relief pain.
Pleasure is your right, whatever age or state of life.