With thanks to Femallay, our sponsor for the sexual confidence series.
I hate hot flashes.
Even your hands sweat. The back of your neck gets clammy. You want to strip in public–which is generally not a good idea.
You start to forget things. I’m starting to make grammar mistakes and silly spelling mistakes–and I never do that. The other day I mixed up “your” and “you’re” on the blog. I haven’t gotten something like that wrong since I was 7.
Your sex drive can plummet, too. You start to feel foggy. It can be harder to focus, and harder to motivate yourself.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that I get a LOT of emails from women in their late 40s and 50s saying that they feel as if they should just accept it–life as it was is over, and this is the new me now.
And all too often, the new me does not involve sex.
The drive is gone. It’s not as fun. It’s a lot of work. And haven’t we earned the right, after all these years, to just focus on what we ACTUALLY want to do, instead of always having to focus on what our husbands want? Is that really too much to ask when the hormones are going all wacky and you’re tired anyway?
Okay, ladies. I get it. I do.
I’m in the throes of it, too.
But let me tell you something: Menopause does not have to be awful.
And since it’s our sexual confidence series right now, I thought we could talk about some of the good stuff about menopause–and how it can even make sex better, too!
1. Menopause means you can be spontaneous
You have no more periods (or at least lighter and far more infrequent ones). Think about that for a moment. No. More. Periods.
No more having to look at a calendar to figure out if you really want to go away that weekend. No more wondering if a trip to the beach will be a bad idea that day. No more having to be afraid you’ve leaked, you’ve forgotten a tampon, or you just plain feel icky.
And your calendar is likely not quite as hectic, either. You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn with little kids. You can sleep in more on weekends–and even engage in morning sex! You don’t have to worry about kids climbing into bed with you in the middle of the night. Even if you have teens or young adults still living at home, they’re more likely to be independent, and you’re more likely to have more uninterrupted time together.
You can take baths and showers together. You can snuggle in in the mornings. You can eat breakfast in your bathrobes. You can start being more sensual again, and more spontaenous, simply because more of your time is honestly your own!
2. Menopause means you’re likely at a mature stage in your relationship
In our early years we’re often focused on other people’s satisfaction and happiness: especially our husbands and our kids. With menopause often comes a stage of life where kids don’t need us in the same way anymore, and our relationship with our husbands has often gotten “into the groove” (or at least a good pattern).
Chances are you can trust your husband. You’ve worked out a lot of your problems. And that means that sex has a lot less emotional weight to it than it may have had at the beginning of the marriage when you were still figuring out libido differences or preferences or even getting over disappointments or betrayals.
(And if those things haven’t been accomplished–then menopause may give you the extra push to do something about it! You realize that life is accelerating, and if you don’t deal with something now, then this is likely as good as it’s ever going to get. So menopause helps us re-evaluate and decide to work on the things that may still be holding us back).
Now you can rest assured that sex is the full expression of everything you are together. You can relax more. And relaxing means that you can be more yourself! You can actually be more passionate, because you’re able to let your guard down and be more vulnerable.
That doesn’t mean that you have to get “freaky” or try every weird thing under the sun. Simply that you can relax in everything your relationship is and let that play out in the bedroom in a much easier way. Sex isn’t just about excitement (though it is still about that). It’s also about connection, closeness, even your history together.
3. Menopause brings fun opportunities
Let’s be real: Menopause does mean that your body goes through changes that impact libido and arousal. As women become more mature, it often takes more time to become fully aroused sexually. Estrogen changes mean that there’s less blood flow to the genitalia, which impacts arousal and lubrication. We can start to experience “arousal nonconcordance”, where our brains are totally into it and we’re ready to have fun, but then there’s almost no lubrication. And because there’s less blood flow, the vagina can actually atrophy or get quite dry, which can lower elasticity and make intercourse more painful. So your brain wants to have sex, but your body just isn’t responding like it should.
Don’t interpret this as a failure. You aren’t less sexual. You just may benefit from a little help!
That’s why I love Femallay’s vaginal melts! They’re vaginal suppositories, available in a wide range of flavours and scents, that help re-moisturize the vaginal area and improve elasticity. Plus they make sex a lot more comfortable and fun!
What do Femallay’s Vaginal Melts Do?
- Relieve vaginal dryness
- Promote vaginal moisture and lubrication
- Smooth vulva care and massage
- Helps increase sensitivity
- Improves skin elasticity, softness, and suppleness
- Reduce irritation, itchiness, and redness from dry, thinning skin
Check them out and have some fun!
4. Menopause encourages you to savor the moment and slow down during sex
For many women, menopause also means that orgasm can take longer and be more elusive. Please rest assured–there is nothing medical that says that you are unable to orgasm after menopause. It just may be that you have to get connected to your body in a new way. Before it may have been that orgasm was relatively easy if you found the position that you liked, or if you just got in the right frame of mind. Maybe now you’re doing all the same things, but your body just isn’t responding as quickly–or at all.
As we talked about in our Orgasm Course, women who had a relatively easy time reaching orgasm before menopause often have more problems after menopause than women who had major problems beforehand. If it was super difficult beforehand, and you had to learn how to listen to your body and how to get aroused, then many women don’t notice much of a difference with menopause (except that it may take longer). But if orgasm was more automatic for you, then menopause may bring more challenges, and you have to go back to basics.
But you can! Menopause is the time to learn that not everything has to be a race–not at work; not getting the kids in the car; not in the bedroom. You can just be present, enjoy what you are feeling without making it too goal oriented, and learn how to listen to your body in a whole new way.
Many women find they finally learn about their bodies at menopause because beforehand everything was kind of automatic. Now they start paying attention, and it gets a whole lot more satisfying.
Slow and steady doesn’t have to be a bad thing or a boring thing. It can be a luxurious thing!
But perhaps the biggest one is this one:
5. You’re more confident in who you are–and this can show up in the bedroom.
It’s like there’s a moment when you hit menopause when you realize, “I’ve been trying to impress everyone else my whole life, and it’s time I just concentrated on who I am and who I want to be!”
Menopause may be the time that many women stop trying to please others, and dig deep inside themselves to see who they were meant to be.
This is a great time to try new things.
- Eliza Hamilton, wife of the now famous Alexander Hamilton, didn’t start her Orphan Asylum until she was 49–and she continued working there until her death at 94. Before then she had dedicated her life to her husband and her kids, and she wanted to give back.
- My aunt, an anaesthetist, started flying around the world three times a year to do medical missions trips, beginning when she was 53. She continued until she retired at 70, visiting The Philippines, Nepal, Rwanda, and others.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t write her books until she was 64.
- Susan Boyle appeared on Britain’s Got Talent when she was 48.
- Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister when she was 54.
- Martha Stewart started her magazine at 49.
- Corrie ten Boom was arrested by the Nazis for hiding Jews when she was 52; her speaking and writing ministry followed after the war, and lasted until she died at age 91.
Menopause does not mean your life is over. Menopause means your new life may just be beginning.
I know this is such a difficult time for many women. Night sweats can mean you never get a good night’s sleep. You can be cranky. Irritable. And really frustrated that you don’t feel at home in your body anymore.
But may I suggest something?
Please don’t settle for the good years being behind you.
You can embrace sexual confidence because you’re more willing to speak up about what you need. You start to realize that if you don’t get this right now, you’re never going to get it right! So you can start telling yourself, “Sex was created for me, too, and I’m going to make sure that I get all the benefits of sex myself!” You stop thinking of sex as something that’s for your husband, and you start realizing, “I need to make sure this is for both of us!”
For many women, menopause is their real sexual awakening, because they realize that they never prioritized their own pleasure before, but only had sex out of obligation or fear or guilt. Now they want to have sex because they want to enjoy it and figure out who they really are. They start taking more (which isn’t always a bad thing in the bedroom!). And they feel truly alive.
Yes, these years can be tricky. But most women do not experience menopause as a time when sex ends or when life goes downhill. For many, this is just the beginning of figuring out who they really are. And that can be awfully exciting–when a woman finally awakes.
What do you think? Has menopause been tough for you? Is there something you’re worried about? Or, if you’ve been through menopause, has it been liberating? Let’s talk in the comments!
Other Posts in the Sexual Confidence Series:
- 3 Markers of Sexual Confidence (especially in women)
- 4 Markers of a Sexually Confident Man
- Knowing that Sex is for You Too
- How to Feel Confident when You’re Married to a Porn User
- Did You Grow up Embarrassed to Be Female?
- 5 Keys to Sexual Confidence after Menopause
- How Sexual Confidence and Rebuilding Trust Intersect
- Accepting Your Sexuality as the Higher Drive Wife
- Feeling Sexually Confident as You Go Through Menopause
- Let’s Talk Vulvas! Feeling confident about your genitals
You may also enjoy:
- The Orgasm Course
- The Great Sex Rescue
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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As a late-comer to marriage, my only experience of sex has been while going through the menopause, but I’m aware that it is a lot harder in some ways than it might have been if I’d married younger.
I don’t even think about trying anything without using a lubricant first. And I find that I’m much quicker to get in the right frame of mind at bedtime if we’ve had more physical contact during the day. I’m not talking lengthy make-out sessions, but we kiss whenever one of us goes out or comes back, hug frequently and try to have a few minutes snuggling up together on the couch after dinner. We’re not always able to do this depending on work pressures, but I’ve noticed that when we do, I head to bed with a ‘yay!’ mindset rather than a ‘yawn’ one!
Thank you for sharing this Anon.
I’m 45 and been divorced 19 years so I’ve been celibate this entire time and not sure if I’ll remarry. I just know that sex over 45 is certainly not going to be like it was at 25 (which had been a horrible experience for me thanks to the abuse).
I am much pickier now and will not settle just for the sake of not being alone.
Very encouraging post and gives me hope for the future. I’m 45 and have been divorced a long time so that means I’ve had many years of celibacy. I have had to overcome the mindset that when I reached a certain age and still haven’t found someone, then I should just throw in the towel and remain single forever. Our culture in the US is youth obsessed so it can be trying to think that marriage and sex can still apply to me long after my childbearing years have come to an end (so far, I have not gone through the change yet).
However, my 40’s has been a freeing time for me. I’ve overcome that mindset about thinking I’m too old to find someone, yet I am over caring if I ever find anyone. I’ve got a long of great things going on in my life and after seeing the examples of some of these women, I feel that this here is confirmation for me. I am starting graduate school in the spring so I can advance in my career as a librarian. There’s also plenty of things I’d like to do in my life and none of it has anything to do with finding love. If that were to happen, I’d just consider it a bonus.
I’ll admit that many years of celibacy does bring out sexual frustrations in me that I never experienced in my marriage, probably because sex was almost always available for me and even though it was, it was very unhealthy and I didn’t want it nearly as much as he did. At least these current frustrations are fewer, but it felt like such torture throughout my late 20’s and 30’s.
Here’s the irony and proof that God has a sense of humor:
I’ve dated more in my 40’s than I did in my 30’s. Why now? Where were all these men when my biological clock was loudly ticking and I was anxious to start a family?
Peri Menopause has been really difficult for me because of mood swings and past and present trauma surfacing, but I love your encouragement in this article. The last few months I’ve really been starting to see this time and the future as freedom. I am considering myself so much more, I’m putting up boundaries, and I’m having hope for the future.
One really good thing about aging is that you have a lot of time and experience under your belt, and as I begin to assess my life so far, I’ve discovered so much hard earned wisdom.
And every day, of course, I’m walking close with and closer to Jesus.
Thanks for your encouragement!!
Yes! That’s beautiful!
I’m 49. Haven’t started menopause yet. After leaving a 21 year marriage where I was a victim of Domestic Violence and remarrying almost 6 months, my sex life with my new husband who is 5 years younger, is far better now than it was when I married my ex. My libido is higher now than it was when I was married the first time.
That’s likely because I now know I’m safe with my new husband!
Yes! I think many women have found that for sure!
It’s so awesome that you found yourself a great man after a bad marriage. Of course, when you are treated well outside the bedroom, your libido will increase. At least that’s what I’ve heard, but I still have yet to experience that.
When I was in a sexually abusive marriage during my 20’s, my sex drive was low most of the time. I thought something was wrong with me and his sex drive was sky high. The problem was that he thought he was entitled to sex at any time. It didn’t matter if I was feeling sick or I was tired. I felt that I had to work hard to keep up with him. I was so glad to leave that relationship.
What I did not know then was that 19 years later, I would have all those years of celibacy and sexual frustration under my belt. That’s okay though, because I know I’m right where God wants me to be and if marriage is ever in my future, He’ll provide the way.
Thanks so much, Sheila, for this article! I am 55 and sex is better than ever! My husband and I don’t have it quite as often as we did years ago, but much of what you point out in the article makes it much better quality than in the past. I just bought the vaginal suppository samples from Femalay and they are really fantastic!
I have not found that my mind has gotten worse. In fact, I think it’s better, but it’s something I’ve prayed about a lot. I went through cancer and 6 rounds of chemo in 2017 and was extremely fuzzy brained so I kept praying that God would restore my mental faculties and He has! I now work full time with year olds, and take college classes two evenings a week. I do take very good care of myself, especially with a healthy diet, plenty of sleep and adequate exercise. I think that is even more important when we get older.
Thanks for the encouraging article!
Oh, yes, I’m passionate about sleep! And my diet is pretty good too (although I have a weakness for chocolate chip cookies). It really doesn’t have to be bad at all!
Really, menopause brings out yet another way the church has really let down and even—let’s be honest—devalued women. Why? Because too many people in the church say a woman’s “highest calling” is to be a wife and mother. (Interesting how men can do darn near anything ***in addition to*** being husbands and fathers, but I digress.)
So what happens when a woman hits menopause? She has lost what she has believed all her life to be her main reason for living. If she can’t have more kids, what’s the point? Sure, she’s still a mom (assuming she was able to have kids in the first place), but if her sole purpose in life was to produce children, now that she’s gone through menopause, that means she has NO MORE PURPOSE IN LIFE. Maybe that’s why so many women have trouble adjusting after a hysterectomy: they’ve believed that bearing children is the most important thing they can do, and when they no longer have a uterus, even if the youngest child is well out of the house and the couple decided decades ago against having more kids, still, such women have, in a way, stopped “being women.” Well, they can’t be men, so now they’re in limbo. Are they even still human? Not a good recipe for mental health.
Really good point!
I love your honesty Jo R!
Even though I haven’t gone through “the change” yet, I sometimes feel the stigma of being that over-40 single woman who is childless. Could I just call myself “child-free” instead? I think that sounds much better.
Yet, it’s no big deal if a man over 40 is single and without children. Just like mainstream culture, the church still holds to that double standard. Maybe that’s why I’m deconstructing from organized religion, but still hanging on to Jesus.
I wish I could find this post encouraging. Unfortunately I hear a majority of women having too many horrible experiences through peri-menopause and the menopause transition in society, let alone in the church, to feel this could be their reality.
My experience of peri-menopause (12 years and counting, thanks to Premature Ovarian Failure) has been uniquely devastating and traumatic. Far from enhancing my marital relationship, it was the trigger for my now ex-husband to demand divorce on the grounds that I became (in his words) fat, unattractive, and with no redeeming qualities that could make my infertile, 40+ year old body useful.
Gaslighting by doctors who don’t understand ovarian decline is also a thing, and with very real potential consequences for bone, heart, and mental health. In addition (though not directly related), older single women have some of the fastest-rising rates of homelessness and financial trouble, at least in Australia where I’m from.
As to the church, well, I struggled to find any place as a younger, child-free *married* woman. I’m not optimistic now that I’m older and divorced.
I would say this is the fault of society not menopause. So sorry you have had to deal with all of this. And sorry your husband was just a jerk, your medical issues really had nothing to do with him being a jerk. They just allowed him to show you who he really was. So sorry you had to deal with that and were shamed for what your body was doing.
The first point seems confused.
AFAIK Menopause is defined as 12 months since the last menstrual period. It can therefore only be determined in hindsight.
If someone is still experiencing irregular periods, aren’t they still in the menopause transition or peri-menopause? Add to that, something like 25% of women experience peri-menopausal periods that are *heavier* and more painful than previously. So while it’s true that there’s no point looking at the calendar, it makes planning anything more – not less- fraught.