Swiping right changed my life. Not only did I meet an incredible person—I’m also learning things I never imagined. Lucky me, I’m dating a sexual wellness entrepreneur.
You heard me right. She specializes in vaginas and sex. How they work. How to care for them. What happens to them as they age. Again, lucky me.
Dating the founder of Joylux has given me some insightful information about women’s health that can really help men better understand women. After all, this information is not really discussed in the locker room, and when was the last time you picked up Cosmo? So, if you’re married, dating, or involved with a woman over 35, read on.
Let’s start with the basics.
Women are complicated, right? Yesterday she was laughing; today, you look at her fondly and she bursts into tears. One minute she’s expertly managing the demands of motherhood and/or a career; the next she’s a rollercoaster of emotions. Can’t get enough sex, then she wants no sex. You have no idea what’s going on.
Chances are your partner is going through some not-so-lovely side effects from (*cue dramatic music*)…
“Menopause” technically means that women no longer produce eggs to make babies. This usually happens to women around 44-58, with an average age of 51, but can happen as early as their 30s. The lead-up to this is perimenopause, which can last 8-10 years. Good news, if you can survive this period, chances are you can survive anything with her.
Menopause (and all its phases) are complex, personal, and different for every woman. I’ve learned a few things talking with Colette. I emphasize “talking,” because that’s obviously the best (and often hardest) place to start in any relationship. Being educated and talking openly and honestly with your partner about what her body may be going through can result in a deeper, more honest connection. Here are some things I have learned.
Menopause Symptom #1: Vaginal Dryness
You want to know where that little spitfire from when you started dating went? Instead, you get “not tonight, honey.” Chances are this is related to her vagina, not you, and she may not even fully understand what is happening.
As her estrogen decreases, so does the lubricated feeling and blood flow (think of how blood flow rushes south for us). With thinner walls and less blood flow comes vaginal dryness. What used to feel lubricated and comfortable suddenly feels dry (as in sandpaper dry). The friction during intercourse can even cause internal chafing and bleeding, which can be downright painful.
As if that weren’t enough, the thinning wall can cause a loss of vaginal sensation. What once was a “holy cow” moment for her, now has become a “is that all?” moment. So while your moves may still be like Mick Jagger, her physical feelings aren't the same.
Lastly, her vaginal pH can easily be thrown off balance because her vaginal wall is becoming more acidic. Too much dry sex can lead to irritation, itching, and infection, causing the dreaded “not tonight, honey.”
SURVIVAL TIP #1:
Find a pH-balanced, water-based lubricant and use it liberally. Take it easy and slow at first. Colette’s vFit device has been a life-changer for her and so many other women (and men). Lastly, if she still needs more help, encourage her to see her doctor.
Once you get past the dryness issue, have lots of sex. Yup, that’s right. While it might seem counterintuitive after everything you’ve read, it’s important to keep doing it. You know the old saying—use it or lose it? Believe it or not, that’s very applicable to a woman’s vagina as she ages.
Menopause Symptom # 2: Hot Flashes
You walk into the room and suddenly she’s bright red, fanning herself, and trying to remove clothes while dripping in sweat. This does not mean you have her all hot and bothered. She’s having a Hot Flash.
This is a sudden heat surge that can cause sweating, flushing of the face, and the skin feeling like it’s literally on fire. This is not a pleasant heat and can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing.
They can also happen in the middle of the night, which can be even worse. Night sweats are intense bouts of sweating followed by chills that happen while she’s sleeping (or rather, trying to sleep). This explains why she’s dancing in and out of the covers all night.
SURVIVAL TIP #2:
Next time you see her throw her blouse off, think twice before you race into action. Offer her anything cold that you can find and don’t question her when she stands outside without her shirt on. The neighbors will soon understand, if they don’t already. Also, keeping the bedroom cool at night not only helps her, but it gives you a good excuse to get close under the sheets.
Menopause Symptom #3: Brain Fog
Women experience cognitive and concentration issues during menopause, otherwise known as “brain fog.” It’s a lot like “pregnancy brain” if you've been around any woman while she’s pregnant. Except it’s worse—A LOT worse. This is frustrating at best and not at all a measure of focus or intelligence, rather an uncontrollable physical change that happens with menopause.
SURVIVAL TIP #3:
Be patient. Trust me when I say she’ll still remember when you told her you’d be home by 10:00pm or you would make dinner on Wednesday. She may need a shoulder to cry on or help finding her keys.
Symptom # 4: Weight Gain
Word to the wise—best not to mention anything about this one. After all, chances are you aren’t sporting the same 6-pack you once did in your youth.
Hormonal changes during perimenopause can cause women to start adding weight to their midsection. There is a loss of muscle mass and an increase in fat stores during aging. Really, not much different than what we men go through. Her exercise or food habits may not have changed at all, but her body reacts very differently.
SURVIVAL TIP #4:
Let me repeat this, DO NOT SAY ANYTHING! Try to be supportive and understanding as she figures out what’s healthiest for her. This is extremely frustrating for her and nothing you can say will help this one other than reiterating how beautiful she is.
Symptom #5: Looseness
Women’s bodies go through a lot of physical changes that are foreign to us, but they are frankly amazing. If you have ever wondered why she won’t jump on a trampoline—here is your answer. In the same way our muscles lose strength if we don’t keep working out, so too does a woman’s pelvic floor muscles, aka a loose vagina. This causes her to pee when she sneezes, jumps, coughs. This is embarrassing and makes her lose confidence and feel old. Not only that, but this also affects sensation during sex.
SURVIVAL TIP #5:
Another sensitive topic, but one during which both of you can benefit. To build back strength, you need to exercise. This won’t get better on its own. The only way to improve strength is to exercise. Doctors tell women to do something called Kegel exercises, which are a good start. Apparently, they are hard to do and don’t solve all issues. Again, this is why Colette created vFit, which has helped her feel confident and strong again. Addressing this is important as it ultimately leads to better sex.
The Bottom Line:
Lots of changes happen to all of us as we get older. Best to talk about them and figure out how to overcome the “fun” of aging together. If your partner gave you this and asked you to read it, she is asking for your help and understanding. Jump in with both feet. Invest in learning by talking openly and trying to help where you can.
If you are watching your partner suffer in silence, and are just now connecting the dots, start the conversation. Open a bottle of something and go for it. She needs help navigating the complex changes and will appreciate your support more than you know. Hopefully this leads to a better relationship and better sex, which is a good goal for all of us, no matter our age.
Oh, my last bit of survival advice for any man with a woman going through menopause.
You’re going to mess up. And when you do—
A gift never hurts!