A new study led by the University of Pittsburgh found that while sexual frequency may decrease with age, it is not just due to menopause and its possible complications (such as dryness and decreased libido). Rather, the researchers found that other factors like poor body image, fatigue, and stress can complicate a woman’s desire and ability to enjoy intimacy.
In other words, there truly is no ‘sexpiration’ date, and indeed I have found that women often even learn to enjoy intimacy to a deeper and more meaningful degree as they age.
In the decades I have been helping women with their intimacy and sexual health concerns, I have learned time and again that sexual desire doesn’t just turn ‘off’ because a woman hits menopause,
No wonder celebrities like Emma Thompson, Gillian Flynn, Oprah Winfrey, Bette Milder and more are speaking out against anti-menopause culture and calling out for a ‘rebranding’ of this natural life cycle. Many women even say that menopause is the best time of their life and that they gain more confidence and deeper self-worth as they grow into themselves and embrace their whole beings.
However, as illustrated by this study, menopause, aging, and other lifestyle concerns can impact a woman’s ability to have the sex life she desires. Hence, I offer the following tips for women to safeguard their sexual pleasure into menopause and beyond:
Try yoga and/or meditation. I think many women struggle to turn their brains off. We have so much on our plate these days and it can feel like our minds are constantly churning. I find that women in particular struggle with this issue because we are primed to feel guilty if we ever take a moment for ourselves. Instead, we lay in bed wondering “What am I forgetting? My son seemed a little distant tonight, is there something wrong? Did I remember to start the dishwasher? For this reason, yoga and a regular meditation practice can be very beneficial for our minds and our sexual response.”
Lubricants are key. Vaginal dryness is one of the most common complaints of menopause, but with lubrication, this does not have to be an issue that derails your sexual pleasure. I recommend products like Yoni Silk. This organic, nutrient-delivering lubricant can help to reduce pain and increase pleasure during intimacy.
You are what you eat. Many people believe that your diet can impact your sexual response and lubrication. Drinking dehydrating liquids like coffee, alcohol, and soda can drain your body of hydration. Instead, you should hydrate regularly and eat foods rich in healthy fats to help promote good cholesterol (which is needed to help create estrogen and lubrication). Drink plenty of water and eat heart-healthy foods like nuts, legumes, dark, leafy greens, avocado, and olive oil. Limit yourself to one glass of wine at dinner to help prevent the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
Sexual health aids. Sexual health aids can be invaluable in enhancing your sexual response and keeping your libido primed and your orgasms strong. My Intimate Accessories Line was created with real women in mind, and whether you are a beginner, an expert, or somewhere in between, you will find a sex aid that meets you where you are and helps broaden and amplify your sexual journey.
Stop smoking. Researchers at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital found that smokers routinely went into menopause 2-3 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts, and they were also likely to struggle with fertility issues. Clearly, the toxins in cigarettes are incredibly damaging to a woman’s reproductive health as well as her general health.
Get sweaty to avoid sweating. Research from the Mayo Clinic finds that practicing yoga can reduce hot flashes by 30% to 100%. Yoga teaches the body to relax: Breathing and heart rates slow down, circulation improves, and it also emphasizes mind-body control, which can reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
Practice self-care. One thing I tell my female patients is that they have to put their own oxygen masks on first. It’s second nature for women to put everyone else ahead of them, but when we do that, our own health suffers. We can’t be our best selves if we are tired, cranky and miserable. Self-care is our responsibility and our right as human beings. We need to start normalizing the idea of carving out self-care as a natural and healthy part of being an adult.