Damage to our sexual health and relationships is one of the more insidious ways menopause can affect our lives. Lost intimacy and gratification may not have the sharp, focused intensity of a hot flash, but the challenge can be every bit as difficult.
That’s why we want to take a second to talk openly about what to expect, and how to maintain your sexual health throughout menopause. Let’s take a look under the bed (or in it). There’s no boogeyman there, just a little change.
The defining biological feature of menopause is the decline of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the corresponding end of the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen and progesterone perform a variety of functions in the body, but primarily they’re responsible for the maintenance of sexual and reproductive function. In fact, it’s fluctuations in these hormones that are responsible for the buildup and shedding of the uterine lining, as well as the release of eggs from the ovaries. The whole reproductive dance is orchestrated by these hormones, and that’s the reason that their decline signals the end of fertility.
But it turns out that estrogen and progesterone are responsible for more than just the details of procreation. They’re also crucially important for facilitating actual intercourse.
“…there really is no reason to deal with ongoing sexual dysfunction from menopause. By supplementing estrogen and progesterone, you can regain the sexual function, enjoyment, and desire that you’ve always known.”
Progesterone levels fluctuate heavily during the menstrual cycle. And they’re at their highest when the body is most fertile. So it’s no surprise to learn that progesterone is actually an effective libido enhancer. Your body naturally increases sexual desire when you’re most likely to get pregnant.
Estrogen also serves an interesting function, preparing the vagina for sex. Normal levels of estrogen keep the vagina lubricated. When levels begin to decline, vaginal lubrication and elasticity can decline as well. The result is often difficult and painful intercourse.
Human sexuality is obviously physical and instinctive. We only need to look at the complicated role our hormones play to realize that.
But sex is also intensely psychological. Our sex lives are intricately connected to the closeness of our most intimate relationships, our self-esteem, and, to a certain extent, our happiness. This is where the decline of our sexual health during menopause becomes most concerning. Sexual satisfaction is desirable, but our relationships and self esteem are critical.
An inability to engage sexually with the one you love can naturally do damage to a relationship. Resentments naturally begin to fester, as a partner no longer receives the satisfaction they’re accustomed too. Often, the sense of rejection is as powerful as the loss of sex itself.
And the psychological toll isn’t limited to the potential damage to relationships. As libido, ability, and sexual activity decrease, a woman’s idea of herself becomes open to change. As time goes on, a woman who is no longer sexually active because of the physical toll of menopause may begin to think of herself differently.
The obvious temptation is for a woman to think of herself as older than she actually is. The loss of sex has the potential to leave a woman feeling that she is no longer desirable. The net effect is unnecessary psychological isolation, and an inaccurate self evaluation.
What to do
We’ve all heard the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Like much of our longstanding wisdom, this adage rings true again and again. The problems of sexual dysfunction, particularly the toll to our relationships, can be avoided if we make sure we’re aware.
Without intentional thought, weeks and months of avoiding sexual intimacy may not seem like a larger pattern. Or at least not a dangerous one. But if we’re aware of the importance of maintaining sexual health, and are on the lookout, we can make decisions that pay off in the long run.
Speaking of decisions that pay off, there really is no reason to deal with ongoing sexual dysfunction from menopause. By supplementing estrogen and progesterone, you can regain the sexual function, enjoyment, and desire that you’ve always known. Of course, at Smoky Mountain Naturals, we suggest natural, bio-identical supplements. But whatever route you take, know that restoring sexual function and fulfillment is easier today than ever before.
It also pays to talk with the other person who is affected by all of this. Let them know what you’re going through, and make your plan together. Let them know that you haven’t been rejecting them, and strengthen the bonds that mean the most.
Through preparedness, communication, and action, you can continue to get the most out of your sex life and intimacy.