Posted By: Emma Brown
Sex and menopause. Are the myths true? Does sex diminish and eventually disappear after menopause? After twenty years of marriage, I am happy to say that there are still moments where sex is absolutely amazing. However: more often than not sex has begun to feel a bit routine.
And now that I’ve reached menopause, it at times is downright painful. I’m afraid that I may be becoming part of a very sad statistic. I refuse to give up without a fight. Sex and my relationship are too important for me to just mildly accept a changing libido and decreasing hormones.
As women approach menopause, our bodies dramatically change. The decrease of estrogen can have a direct impact on our libido. Over 59% of menopausal women report some impact on their vagina, including vaginal dryness, pain during vaginal intercourse, vaginal atrophy (shrinkage and narrowing) and an increase in urinary tract infections. Sex although still desired, is just not as enjoyable and for some women it’s down right painful. Men have their own set of sexual concerns: including taking a longer time to have an erection and when they do have an erection it may not be firm or rigid. The decrease in testosterone can also result in a lower sex drive.
All of a sudden things started to click. It wasn’t that my husband no longer desired me. It was hormonal and the fact that his penis wasn’t working the way it used to was probably a little disconcerting. So what does a sexually driven woman do? I wasn’t ready or wiling to give up sex. Instead, I decided to venture out of my sexually “reserved zone” and head to the local sex shop. It was time for a trip to find some tools that could help make sex enjoyable again.
Toys, Toys and More Toys
The world of the sex store was both overwhelming and a bit intimidating. This was all new to me but I was eager to discover ways to love sex again. I started out by wandering around the store. There were vibrators, dildos, and other pretty objects that baffled me. One strange little contraption resembled a series of tiny little tongues. I was intrigued, but I think that may be for a future venture. As much as I didn’t want to, I was going to have to ask for some help.
Luckily, the woman at the shop was both warm and welcoming. I explained to her my personal challenge and she had a wealth of information. The top thing that she emphasized was that the more sex I had, the easier and better sex would become. Sex could either be solo or involve my partner. I liked this woman already, but I have to admit I was skeptical. So I did, what any good researcher does, I went home and looked up the information. The Centre for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality confirmed this information. Regular sex helps keep vaginal tissues more supple and moist. But sex was becoming painful, so what could I use to make this task a bit more comfortable?
Bring on the Lubricants:
Lubricants are probably the simplest sex toys to start off with. These lotions are both practical and fun: their main purpose is to help prevent vaginal dryness. In this case, water based lubricants are the best ones to use. An average water based lubricant will last approximately 3 hours. The lubricant can be applied to either the vagina, penis or sex toy and will make penetration that much more pleasurable. There are several varieties to try and if you want to add some spice to your love life, there are even some designed to taste with decadent flavors such as chocolate and hazel nut. According to Sarah Bruner from the Stag Shop; if you’re looking to have fun with sex toys, flavored lubricants is often a natural starting point. “It is available in many different flavours and is designed to give a new spin on oral sex. You can also buy flavoured lubes that warm, heating up when you blow on them adding a new sensation into the mix.”
There is no one toy that was specifically targeted for the older population. Owners of the sex shop Come as you areemphasize that each individual is unique on their specific needs, desires and interest. However; one of the common complaints of menopause, is a diminished sex drive and the need for additional stimulation. The decrease in hormones can have a direct impact on the sensitivity of the vagina: taking longer to orgasm. Using a vibrator, particularly one with multiple settings, is an excellent way to compensate for this decrease in sensitivity.
The Stag Shop made sure that I didn’t just look at the vibrators. It was important to pick them up and feel the weight, texture and the type of vibration. There was one vibrator that really stood out for me both in design and utility: The We Vibe.
The We Vibe looks nothing like a typical vibrator. It has a sleek shape with a very discreet charger/carrying case. This vibrator was designed by Canadian, Bruce Murison, and it is made to be used during intercourse. According to Bunder, “The We-Vibe 3 is our best seller for couples, made of body safe medical grade silicone this toy is virtually silent (great if you have kids!). The way this toy works is one side is inserted while the other rests on top of the clitoris, when making love your partner just slides in under the toy. Using the handy remote you have control over 6 different vibration settings, offering clitoral and g-spot stimulation for her and a tunnel of vibration for him.”
My husband liked the vibrator, as he didn’t feel like “he was being replaced”. I loved it for its variety and simple design. I could really feel comfortable using this in both partner sex and solo.
Working with Erectile Dysfunction
Over 3 million Canadian men suffer from erectile dysfunction. Viagra, Cialis and other erectile enhancing drugs are typically the most sought out treatment. However; we wanted to try a non-medical treatment. According to Dr. Annette Owens, cock rings seemed like a simple and effective solution for maintaining an erection. Cock rings act as a barrier so that when you have the blood flowing into the penis, it slows down and traps the blood inside the penis. As we wandered through the toy shop, I was astounded at the huge variety of cock rings from very simple designs to several that provide clitoral stimulation including the rabbit and the dolphin cock ring.
Sex toys are not a stand-alone solution for menopause. They can spice up a routine sex life and make sex that much more comfortable and enjoyable. Wandering through the sex shop with my partner really helped us reconnect. I felt excited and eager about our sex life and relieved that there were some practical solutions. Of course it helped that the staff made us feel comfortable not only talking about our sexual complications but also finding helpful and enjoyable solutions. Now all we have to do is go home and try them.
Emma is a freelance journalist who likes to tackle topics that are close to home. Sexuality and relationships were her primary area of focus, but now her focus has shifted to menopause and the challenges/triumphs that come with it. If she is not writing, she is either travelling, in the midst of a hot flash, or both.