Introduction to menopause
Menopause is a time when women experience considerable hormonal changes which result in symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings and sexual problems. While these symptoms are natural, they can cause significant distress for menopausal women and their partners, and can disrupt the couple’s sex life.
Having a supportive, understanding partner and being in a trusting relationship makes it easier for women to cope with menopause and its symptoms. On the other hand, being dissatisfied with a partner can exacerbate the sexual and psychological symptoms of menopause. Many men may have little knowledge of menopause and may be unsure how to react to the changes their partner is experiencing or unaware that treatments to relieve menopausal symptoms are available. In addition, they may not have considered their role and how they might be contributing to (or may be able to help relieve) their partner’s symptoms.
There is considerable evidence that couples can continue having a great sex life after menopause. However, it is also important to highlight that there are many factors that influence the possibility of a woman experiencing menopausal symptoms, including sexual problems. A woman’s relationship with her partner exerts a significant influence on her menopausal symptoms, in particular the sexual symptoms which she experiences.
Men may be unaware that they play an important role in keeping up a great sex life during and after their partner’s menopause, or unsure of specific steps they can take to improve their sex life. While general practitioners and other health professionals are a good source of advice, men are often embarrassed to discuss their sex life with a doctor. However, doctors will treat sexual problems just like any other health problems, so it’s important for men to try and speak openly and honestly with their doctor.
Why men should be involved
Sexual symptoms are typically a problem for women because they cause a mismatch between her partner’s sexual needs and her own. For example, a woman who takes longer to orgasm after menopause may only be bothered if her partner experiences quicker orgasms as he ages. Menopausal sexual problems are a joint problem, most effectively treated by involving both partners. It helps when the male partners of menopausal women are educated about why the sexual symptoms of menopause arise and what might exacerbate them. Educated partners are in a better position to help menopausal women treat the symptoms and have a great sex life after menopause.
A husband’s guide to having great sex after menopause
There are many ways in which you can contribute to ensuring that you both continue having great sex after menopause. As biological and psychosocial factors indirectly affect a couple’s sexual relationship, you should not only think about sexual factors when you consider how to improve sex with your menopausal partner, but must also consider how biological and psychosocial factors influence sexual functioning.
Physical health influences sexual function, and staying healthy is an important part of having a great post-menopause sex life. Try to:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet;
- Exercise regularly;
- Avoid nicotine, alcohol and other harmful substances; and
- Get enough rest.
Your partner may have special health needs in the menopausal period, and it is important that you are aware of these needs and support her. In particular, she may need to take hormone replacement therapy or another type of treatment, especially to relieve hot flushes which disrupt sleep and mood changes which affect libido. You can help by being knowledgeable about the various treatments available and helping her assess the pros and cons of various treatments.