We talk about hot flashes and night sweats. We know our periods won’t come back. But many of us aren’t prepared for the changes in our sex lives after menopause. Primarily how much sex can hurt. The clinical term for painful vaginal intercourse is dyspareunia, and it’s a lot more common than we think.
Whether you experience painful sex on occasion, or it’s become a mainstay in the bedroom, it’s essential to know you don’t have to suffer. Help is on the way. First, let’s go over what causes dyspareunia, and then dive into ways to ease your discomfort and restore your intimate health.
What Causes Painful Sex After Menopause?
Like many changes women experience after menopause, decreases in estrogen levels can lead to discomfort during vaginal intercourse. As estrogen levels drop, vaginal wall tissue thins out and becomes more elastic. This change increases tissue fragility and can lead to tearing, bleeding, and pain during vaginal sex. Also, you may experience vaginal dryness, irritation, and loss of interest in sex.
Changes in estrogen levels can affect your urinary tract. This may contribute to superficial pain or pain during vaginal entry. Another cause of pain during sex is a lack of sexual activity. Women who return to a healthy sex life after considerable time off may find sex to be uncomfortable post-menopause.
Though these are the most common causes of dyspareunia, it’s important to rule out other issues such as:
- Injury or trauma to the vaginal tissue
- Surgery or an accident
- Skin conditions
- Infections or STIs
- Certain medications
- Stress, fear of intimacy, or relationship difficulties
How To Improve Sex Post-Menopause
The pain may have you running for the hills when you think about intimacy, but you don’t have to forego a healthy sex life. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. They can help you pinpoint any causes related to painful sex. This may include a pelvic examination to check for any underlying physical conditions. Your healthcare provider can also talk to you about support for low estrogen levels and refer you to the right provider for any emotional support you may need.
In the meantime, there are a few steps you can take to ease back into sex. First, it’s important to rethink what sex means to you and your partner. Sex isn’t just intercourse. It’s about connection, and pleasure can extend beyond achieving a vaginal orgasm. We encourage you to try extended foreplay and introduce new ways of connecting with your partner outside of vaginal intercourse. Often when the pressure is off to perform, you find many new ways to enjoy pleasure with your partner.
When vaginal play is introduced, we recommend using vaginal lubrication during intercourse. Introduce it early during intimacy and using it liberally. It’s also a good idea to use a daily vaginal moisture serum, like our pH-balanced revitalizHER made from soothing, supple ingredients that support healthy vaginal skin.
A healthy, functioning pelvic floor is also key to better intimate health. The vagina and other supportive muscles in the pelvic floor may weaken over time, which can increase pain and decrease pleasure during sex. You can improve your pelvic floor function and strength with a solid pelvic floor and core workout routine. Before you start your morning Kegels, it’s essential to understand how your pelvic floor works. We recommend adding in daily pelvic health support with our vFit device. It does all the hard work for you in short daily sessions.