Are you there, God? It’s me — Menopause.
Another quick quiz, ladies.
Menopause can cause:
A. Vaginal dryness
B. Night sweats
C. Hot flashes
D. Decreased libido
E. Incontinence or, as I like to call it, The Riddle of the Piddle
Menopause can cause all of those things and more.2
Menopause is a normal, natural event — defined as the final menstrual period, and usually confirmed when a woman has missed her periods for twelve consecutive months (in the absence of other obvious causes). Menopause is associated with reduced functioning of the ovaries due to aging, resulting in lower levels of estrogen and other hormones. It marks the permanent end of fertility. Menopause occurs, on average, at age fifty-one (51). The years between puberty (when periods start) and menopause are called premenopause.3
You hear that — you young, braless whippets? YOU ARE ALL PREMENOPAUSAL. (OMG — I’m shouting in the language of the Tweet!)
For many women, the warning signs of menopause are easy to spot — decreasing periods, and finally an end to menstruation. So, if you find yourself having a period every few months, and you’re in your fifties, you are probably in menopause.
Quick quiz! Check all that apply, have applied, or will apply to you:
- Do you have fantasies of lying alone in the nude on a deserted island, in the Arctic Circle?
- Have you been happy as a clam one minute, and had a Tammy-Faye-Baker crying jag the next?
- Have you wondered which of your possessions, including your family, you’d trade in for one good night’s sleep?
- Did you nickname your vagina Sally Sandpaper, Parched Polly, or Arid Ally?
- Have you yelled at your husband for sweating on you . . . only to realize that he is the sweatEE, and you — my menopausal maiden — are the sweatOR.
- Is everyone in your family afraid of: turning up the thermostat; or turning down the thermostat — without your express written permission?
- Would you rather have a pelvic exam with a cold speculum than have sex?
- Do you understand your mother soooooo much better?
Here are some other key symptoms.4 I like to call these Mile Markers of Risk. In other words, if you’re speeding down the estrogen highway, keep an eye out. Menopause Manor is right round the bend!
- Mood swings
- Decreased sex drive
- Hot flashes
- Racing heart (palpitations)
- Vaginal dryness and soreness
- Trouble sleeping
- Bone thinning (osteoporosis)
Is it any wonder that many women suffer from a decreased sex drive during menopause? Let’s take a look at some of these menopausal sex saboteurs.
TREATMENT & IMPACT ON SEX
Vaginal dryness can range from discomfort, to pain during intercourse, and even bleeding.
Many women, who suffer from vaginal dryness may not even realize that this is a symptom of menopause. Low estrogen causes the vagina and surrounding connective tissue to lose elasticity, and the tissue that lines the vagina to become thinner and more fragile.5
Needless to say, it’s hard to feel sexy when your venus is as scratchy as sandpaper. Nor is it just your sex life with your partner that suffers. Vaginal dryness can hamper masturbation, and cause pain during non-sexual times; e.g. taking a brisk ride on your horse; adjusting the vibrator setting on your massage chair; relaxing in front of the pulsating jets in a hot tub.
If only there were something you could do about this. Don’t despair. There is! Say bye bye vag dry!
- Drink lots of water; hydration helps all over.
- Enjoying sexual exercises — either by yourself, or with your partner — will help stimulate lubrication.
- Speaking of lubrication, use lubes! Astroglide, KY and others can be lifesavers.
- Vaginal estrogen crèmes can help; talk to your OB about them.
- Use natural Vitamin E. Break a capsule, swab a bit inside your venus, and repeat as needed.
Vaginal Dryness is uncomfortable and, in some cases, extremely painful. If painful sex as a result of vaginal dryness continues even after you’ve tried to alleviate these symptoms, see your doctor. There are things that can be done to help — from medications, to hormones, to surgery. Don’t suffer in silence, and don’t let your sex life suffer either.
The Gramma Sutra has come up with some tips you can give to your partner to help spice up your sex life and bring you both some much needed relief.
- Have your partner put some liquid lubricant into your hands, lube them up, and then squeeze and massage your neck and shoulders, pressing gently into the muscles and kneading them. Tell your partner how much pressure you like and need. Slowly and steadily, work the massage from the shoulders to the arms to the fingers.
- Lie on your stomach. Have your partner begin to gently massage each calf muscle. Do them one at a time. Once muscles in her calves have been thoroughly massaged, do the same with each thigh. Move up to the buttocks. Your partner will massage each one in turn . . . gently at first, and then with increasing pressure according to your wishes.
- Have your partner drip some liquid lubricant onto the nipples of your breasts. As your partner begins to rub gently, let him know how much pressure to apply to pleasure you.
- Have your partner put some lubricant on the tip of his finger and paint the labial lips as if he were water-coloring a flower . . . gently. If you aren’t in pain let him gently insert a finger into you. Curve the finger so that the tip of his finger is up against the inside of your vulva, in the arch, opposite of the clitoris. Let him rub and massage this area. Slide it in and out. Once you are enthusiastically responding, let him place his thumb gently above (not on) your clitoris. He should rhythmically rub this area at the same rate and speed as the finger working inside you.
With some practice, patience and persistence, vaginal dryness does not have to stop any woman from having great sex.
Hot Flashes/Night Sweats
I have no idea from one day to another how I’ll feel. Some nights I’m sweating. Some nights I’m freezing. Sometimes I’m bouncing back and forth. The last thing I want to do is be sexual. Mostly, I want to lie in a bath until I’m sixty.
M. Gray, Noe Valley, CA
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. A hot flash is a momentary sensation of heat that may be accompanied by a flushed face.6 Add to that the sweating, which for many women gets worse at night, and you’ve got a perfect storm of sexual interruption.
Sliding around in a puddle of your own sweat is not exactly the most romantic thing in the world. Hot flashes and night sweats can also make the act of sex itself uncomfortable. The Gramma Sutra understands.
I have been a horny, lusty woman my whole life, even now [during menopause]. I still want sex, but every time my boyfriend starts kissing me, I get so hot — literally hot and sweaty — that I can’t take it. I mean I’ve always thought I was hot . . . but this is ridiculous!
S. Cowan, Houston, Texas
I've had women tell us that they’re sleeping with their windows wide open in freezing temperatures, only having sex in a cool baths, and that they won’t even consider the idea of getting naked during a hot flash without several ice cold washcloths nearby.
It’s bad enough that you’re going through your own personal summer all the time. But when it’s not even a summer of love . . . come on!
The Gramma Sutra believes that whatever you have to do to stay cool and happy is kosher . . . although I'd like to tell that one lady — who gets it on in an industrial freezer with her butcher husband — honey, just don’t touch the chops. Those are mine!
Here are some tips sent in by GrammaSutrians for keeping your body cool and your sex life hot:
- Avoid stress, caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol
- Sleep in a well chilled room
- Wear lightweight clothing
- Chill your sex toys, lubricants and sheets. Yes, your sheets!
- Check out Hormone Replacement Therapy; contact your doctor
- Have sex in a cold bath, or in the shower
- Eat lots of cold foods: antipasta; salads; ice cream; etc.
- Have your partner kiss and fan you — kiss, fan, kiss, fan . . . you get the idea
- Keep an open mind. For most women, hot flashes are temporary. Great sex is forever!
Things you can do with your partner:
- Ice bath
- Lie in a bath — on towels, if you prefer — and have your partner melt ice on you. Begin with your forehead and neck. Run down the shoulder blades, and around the breasts (without touching the nipple). Then along the sides of the stomach until he approaches your venus. Next, take another cube and start at the bottom of the feet, working up, once again stopping at the venus. Lastly, take another cube and circle both nipples, one after the other. Move from the aureole to the nipple itself. Now, take another cube and work the outer lips of the venus (but do not touch the clitoris).
- Fruit bowl
- Chill a variety of fruits — from cantaloupe to strawberries — and then feed them to each other. Don’t forget the whipped cream (after a Lactaid), and you’re good to go.
- Skinny dip
- Go to a secluded beach or waterfall or reservoir and — in the fall or early spring — take a quick dip in the raw. Bringing down the temperature suddenly can be very refreshing when going through hot flashes. But make sure to have warm blankets (toasted by the car heater) at the ready, and a change of clothes. I don’t urge you to break any laws, but being out in “public” may make more than your hot flashes go away; it may heat you up too . . . in the right way.
- Snow roll
- See Skinny dip, above, except that this involves a roll in the snow. If you are lucky enough to have access to a sauna, follow this up with the traditional Finlandian snow roll. Again, make sure you have blankets nearby. Take a long cool shower afterward and sit for at least ten (10) minutes to cool off completely before dressing. May be followed by a shot of Danish Aquavit!
Decreased Libido? How about no libido? I have no desire whatsoever to be touched, stroked, kissed or held. It’s making my husband crazy. But I don’t know what to do. It’s like someone flipped a switch and made me sexless. Help!
Mabel C., Chicago, IL
Decreased Libido during menopause can be due to a variety of factors: vaginal dryness; hot flashes; night sweats; in addition the loss of estrogen and the loss of regular ovulation, both of which can cause a decrease in the desire for sex. "Estrogen is a mood elevator. It works in the brain to maintain interest in sex. But it also works at the level of the genitals, helping to increase sensation, and just making sex more pleasurable," says Laura Corio, OBGYN and clinical instructor, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York City.
As menopause progresses and estrogen is being lost faster than a bra on prom night, it’s no surprise that many women feel a loss of desire for sex.
I went from being horny, to being hungry for cookies and ice cream . . . but not for sex.
M. Garcia, NYC, NY
My twin sister became a sex maniac during menopause. I just became a maniac.
T. Allen, Phoenix Arizona
Decreased libido is one of the most distressing yet rarely talked about aspects of menopause. Losing a portion or all of your sex drive can unleash all sorts of feelings that, frankly, aren’t good to have around. The Gramma Sutra doesn’t want any of our readers to feel bad about themselves, or about what’s happening in their bodies. Here are some ways to deal with a decreased libido.
Dealing with the Decrease
- If Intercourse is painful . . . try Inter-Courses:
- Such as Torture Kissing (teasing by kissing torture), Oral Sex, and Mutual or Exhibitionist Masturbation. Perhaps it’s time to try Anal (with the right lubricant, of course)! Great in-between snacks, when a full meal is just too much! Sometimes a single piece of ripe fruit is far more memorable than a BBQ extravaganza.
- Tell your partner how you’re feeling
- Don’t hide your pain, lack of desire, or your discomfort. Great sex starts with communication. The only way to improve is to learn . . . and to practice, and practice, and . . .
- Exercise and meditate
- Regular exercise and meditation may help you regulate your symptoms — even alleviate them.
- Talk to your doctor!
- Maybe all you need is a simple medication to help you get your groove back.
- Women have been going through this since the dawn of womankind. And let’s not forget: A few short centuries ago, you’d be going through menopause in your thirties! Be grateful!
Menopause does not have to necessarily mean the termination of your sex life. Here are a few things you can do with your partner to help kick-start your libido:
- Share a fantasy
- Tell him a sexual fantasy that you’ve had (perhaps even acted out once or twice), one that you find particularly erotic. Then make him tell you one. Take turns acting them out . . . if you dare.
- Costumes have been worn by revelers for millennia. Pretend you’re at a costume party in Venice, Italy. Wear masks and whatever else you’d like to get into the role.
- Role Play
- Nurse and Doctor; Teacher and Student; Stewardess and Business Traveler; Immigration Officer and Illegal Immigrant; Boss and Secretary; Prison Guard and Prisoner; Husband and Wife — the possibilities are endless. One note: Please make sure you have the keys for any handcuffs you’re using; I've heard stories from some GrammaSutrians that would curl your hair!
- Massage unto others as you would have them massage you. If you don’t feel like being touched, then massage your partner. Create a romantic environment with candles and music, and massage the shoulders, arms, legs and feet of your beloved. If you are being massaged, accept the massage for what it is — a lovely interlude when you and your partner get to experience the joys of the flesh in a sensual, intimate manner. Massage allows you to see and be seen in a completely different way. Enjoy it and allow the feelings that emerge between the two of you to carry you away.
- Read some erotic or romantic fiction or poetry to one another. Even better, write your own erotic fiction together. On www.hoochymail.com, you can personalize an erotic story, and then read it to your partner. Remember the poetry that sent you into a tizzy in college, the stories that gave you a thrill? Revisit them with your partner. A favorite poem of The Gramma Sutra is by Ben Johnson, 1573-1637.
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup
And I’ll not look for wine.
Menopause freed me. I thought, hell, if I can still get it on through hot flashes and raging hormones, then I’ll be having sex until I’m 100!
N. Bolton, N.Y, N.Y.
Recognizing the symptoms of menopause can help you keep your sense of humor, your sanity, and your libido. Don’t wait until your sex life is as dead as my houseplants. If menopause is disturbing your sex life, talk to your doctor, your therapist or acupuncturist . . . until you find something that will help you. Don’t despair. Don’t give up. This too will pass.
Most importantly, talk to your partner. Menopause is happening to both of you. Don’t sweat and suffer in silence. Here’s a possible conversation starter:
A “Gramma Sutra Conversation” with your partner about . . . menopause.”
Perhaps you’ve noticed lately that I’ve been a little, well . . . not myself. The truth is — I’m not going crazy. I’m going through menopause. And, sometimes, I feel like the changes are driving me crazy! I’ve got (pick your menopause symptoms), and there are days when I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I need your help, John. I want you to know that when I tell you I wish you would get run over by a bus filled with Sumo wrestlers, I don’t mean it. When I turn on the air conditioning in the middle of winter, please just put on a sweater — because if you turn it off, I may just have to throw you under that bus. Look, John: I don’t know how I’m going to feel from one minute to the next, but I do know that I (love, like, want to have sex with you) for a long time . . . so, please, be patient with me. I’ve found this website, TheGrammaSutra.comm, which has some helpful tips in it we can use to make this transition easier. I’m also going to talk to my doctor to see what medical or homeopathic avenues are open to me. One thing is for sure: Menopause is temporary, but our (marriage, relationship, great sex) is forever. I want you to help me continue to enjoy our great sex life . . . because a sex life is a terrible thing to waste.
Time to check your Decade IQ. Click here to challenge yourself to The Gramma Sutra "Know Your Decade" Crossword Puzzle: THE FIFTIES — Menopause Mania.
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