Archive for sexuality
Menopause is characterized by a loss of circulating Estrogen. The causes changes in the brains function, your vision, your nervous system areas that help you deal with stress and the mental and physical areas that allow you to want and to enjoy sexual activity. Maturity sometimes brings with it physical challenges like breast pain, joint pain, muscle stiffness, even our skin can tingle and hurt. Some of our senses may be hampered like taste and smell. And, it may have been “a while” since we last really thought about sex so the mental, emotional and physical connections may be a bit rusty. In this first video, I try to help you understand what might be going on and what you can do to physically be able to have a sexual relationship again. In two subsequent videos I will discuss vaginal health specifically and how to increase your sexual satisfaction. These last two videos must be requested by signing up for them below. After you sign up, you will receive a confirmatory email. I have to be sure it was you at the email entered that really asked for this information. After you click the link to confirm your choice you will receive the first video and a week later number 2. As I make more videos in this series you will automatically receive them.
Remember, I am not your doctor. I am a source of vetted information. You can discuss this with your health care professional and decide what you need to do for you personally. I am happy to be someone who can give you opinions about what the medical and scientific community in our country (USA) thinks about certain options. Enjoy video number one!
People are sexual beings until they die. Being sexual is 90% mental and 10% physical. Women in peri-menopause and post-menopause have several common and a few less common sexual problems. Answer the questions in the poll below – either indicate what you have experienced, your partner or friends have experienced or what you have read and understand. The poll is anonymous – no one, not even our webmaster will be able to tell what you answered. After you answer, scroll down and click on the link on the page after the poll.There will be a password for you to use to open the post (we want people to come here first) and read a discussion about the sexual problems of post-menopausal women.
After you take the poll, leave your comments on part two of this topic called Sexually Hot after Menopause – Part 2.
The password for that post is MenopauseSex
STI is the new abbreviation. The old one was STD. They both represent infections acquired through sexual activity. If you have sexual relationships you are at risk to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Your risk may even be greater than when you were younger for reasons I explain in the video which lasts just 4 minutes.
I mention condoms in the video. What I did not mention is nonoxynol-9. (look at the UN study on side-effects) This chemical was a knee jerk reaction to HIV in the 1980′s. It was found to kill HIV in a test tube and could be made to stick to the surface of a latex condom. There are a few condoms still made with this chemical labeled as a spermicide. Try to pick out the “spermicide” labeled boxes on the Trojan website. It is easy, they have a bright red stripe on the box. Advice: Menopausal women avoid nonoxynol-9!
You may also want to see my video series on Sexuality during Menopause. I answer 5 questions during this series. Video #1, linked here answers the question “What Happened to my Sexual Desire?”
I mention a website in this video. ASHASTD.org. This is the American Social Health Association. Another resource on this topic are a series of STI articles on EzineArticles written by my partner in this endeavor, Bruce Bair PAC.
I hope you enjoyed the video and I encourage you to take the following actions:
1. Sign up for a membership. It is a $120 gift from me to you that is still available.
2. Leave me a comment on this post
3. If you have a more personal question, use the contact form to ask it. I will answer it in a post, but I will not reveal your identity or any of the circumstances you relate to me in your email.
Remember, I can not be your health care provider and reading this, commenting, emailing me does not make me one for you or make you my patient. I am a resource of information and a guide about health.
How can I increase my sexual desire? Look at your medications – some of these may be a problem?
What are the positives to increasing your sexual desire that makes it worth the time and effort?
What illnesses decrease sexual desire but still allow you to function in other ways?
Find the answers to these and other questions in the 4 minute video I have inserted here.
What can I do to increase my sensitivity to my partner?
I answer questions like:
- Who should I talk to?
- Are there medications that can help me?
- What positions will help you?
- Who can help you most?
Next week look for part 4.
Am I the only one experiencing this set of symptoms? What are other people feeling about sex and aging? 43% of menopausal women notice one thing in particular. 34% note one thing is worse during menopause. Who is distressed about these changes and who is not? Anne V. PAC answers these and other questions in this 4 minute video.
“How can I be more responsive to my partner?” coming in 3 days, log in to find it in the blog then.
This is a series of videos produced by Anne V. PAC on the topic of sexuality during menopause. Anne answers 5 questions in this series, only 1 of those will be available on the blog and the others will be posted in the membership section. These will appear in blog posts over the next 7 or 8 days. They will be found under the heading Sexuality and Menopause and the category Menopause Symptoms.
The first question Anne will answer is: “What happened to my sex drive?” The next 3 questions are:
“Am I the only one?” , “How do I increase my Sexual desire?” , “How do I improve my responsiveness to my partner?” The 5th question will be a surprise. The protected content – login to read it – and search in the category – Menopause Symptoms – for: Sexuality during Menopause #2, #3, #4 and #5
Below is a video answering question #1.
To be able to access the other content in this series and other information, please become a member ( a gift to you worth $120) by filling out the form immediately below.
Researchers are active in trying to identify ways women can move through menopause comfortably and in the most healthy fashion for them. Often times interesting studies are published or mentioned in meetings that the experts convene to discuss topics, both in the US as well as abroad. A few of the interesting topics I found in last weeks news are as follows:
Why does menopause happen well before our elderly years?
Researchers in the social sciences have been wondering this also. In most other species, the female species quickly die after loosing their reproductive capacity. Not so in Killer Whales and Pilot Whales who appear to have a similar social system as humans in terms of timing of menopause and life expectancy. It has been noted that these species of whale become genetically close to those they live with and are invested in the survival of the group. In humans, we already have this situation in that we often live with our families. It is surmised that post menopause, we are there to help the younger of our group raise their young. This tradition is especially demonstrated in other cultures mentioned in previous posting /cultural attitudes and menopause. In many African and Mayan cultures, the elder women become the sages and the leaders of their communities.
Sex and menopause is always a topic of discussion among men and women alike.
A recent study of a small group of British women, recently published in Journal of Psychology looked at this issue. Surprisingly, they found that other factors besides hormonal issues impacted a menopausal woman’s sex life the most. These included but were not confined to decreased sex drive of partner, carry for elderly parents. It is felt by researchers that social and psychological issues influence sexual behavior more than biologic issues. What do you think of this and is this the case with you and/or your friends?
There is now a blood test that researchers feel can predict when menopause may happen for a woman. In a small study performed by the Shahad Behesh University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran; 266 women aged 20-49 submitted blood samples of AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) over a period of years. These women were part of a larger study of lipids and glucose begun in 1998. AMH is a hormone which is expressed in ovarian follicles and controls formation of primary follicles, thereby allowing only one follicle to develop monthly.It is only produced in small follicles and is felt to be a measure of ovarian follicle reserve. Certain levels were found to correlate with the onset of menopause, perhaps allowing women to consider when to start families in terms of work and career issues. Researchers at the above facility feel it may be a useful tool to help with family planning.
Another reason to take fish oil capsules is prevention of invasive ductal breast carcinoma. Recently published in the Journal of American Association of Cancer Research is a small study indicating protection of this form of breast cancer with regular use of fish oil supplements containing EPA and DHA. A 32% reduction of invasive ductal carcinoma was seen.
It is reassuring that research continues on menopausal issues, as much of a woman’s productive life can be after her reproductive life. It is interesting to read of research from different countries as it seems much the research in the US can be presumed to be driven by the pharmacology industry.
Sex life during and after menopause? Ah, this can be a difficult thing. Among the many changes of menopause, sexual desire (libido), sexual enjoyment and intimacy can be difficult and fleeting.
In this article I will discuss the causes, and discuss possible solutions to this very troubling occurrence.
Most women want to know why they no longer have a sex drive and what they can do to improve it?
Why is it more difficult to achieve orgasm and what can they do to improve sexual satisfaction?
In some cases – what is causing the discomfort of sexual activity when they never had a problem before?
It comes as not surprise that the issue of sexual dysfunction for women is more complicated than it is for men; and this is why the treatments or solutions are not as simple as a Viagra-like drug or using testosterone cream.
This problem, sometimes called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, is being looked at more vigorously if for no other reason that drug companies anticipate a large cash payoff in the making if they can come up with a drug to treat sexual dysfunction in women. All sarcasm aside, some causes for decrease enjoyment can be changed easily, and some not so easily. Like every other change of menopause, a woman’s sex life is likely to change but can still be satisfying and fulfilling.
The definition of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is as follows:
a persistent or recurrent absence of sexual fantasies or desire for sexual activity which causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty that cannot be accounted for by another mental or medical condition or by medications or drugs (alcohol, recreational drugs).
It is a condition that can occur with or without a partner, it can be situational or generalized and it can be life long or acquired.
In other words, this is the lack of desire to have sex that isn’t there for any specific reason, and you could have been feeling this way for a long time or just since menopause and it isn’t because you are taking a new medication, drinking too much alcohol, or using recreational drugs.
HSDD can actually occur in young women also, I am primarily going to discuss its occurrence in menopause as some of the solutions are specific to this time of life.
Sexual dysfunction can occur as
- a problem of desire,
- problem with arousal,
- orgasmic difficulties
- and because of pain.
In a study of women and sexual function called the PRESIDE study,
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31,580 women were questioned about desire and whether their lack of desire caused distress;
43% of women questioned noted some form of a problem with sexual function,
38% across all age groups sited decreased desire as their problem.
Furthermore, 45% of women 45-64 years of age noted a problem with decreased desire but surprisingly only 15% were distressed by it;
and 80% of women 65 and older noted problems with desire and only 9% were distressed by their lack of desire!
So let’s look at this issue. The first thing to change is usually desire or libido.
So what contributes to libido?
- whether or not you are in a relationship
- or the quality of your relationship,
- hormone levels contribute,
- other medical illnesses
- or medications a woman may be taking to treat these medical conditions,
- painful medical conditions can decrease desire,
- and how good a woman feels about how she looks.
A lot is changing during menopause and we are often not too pleased with how we look and feel. This can easily be translated into the bedroom.
Most of the information about women and sexual dysfunction comes from surveys.
The most reported problem mentioned is lack of desire, followed by pain issues.
The biggest predictor of libido in post menopause was the attitude and practices regarding sex prior to menopause.
This is no big surprise, if sex was a low priority prior to menopause, there is not reason to believe that fact is going to change much after menopause. Many women however, feel that the western culture does not value older women and that post menopausal women are not supposed to feel sexual. Other cultures value women only when they are of child bearing age, and the women of these cultures have difficulty escaping this bias.
Hormones have been looked at as a cause and solution to sexual dysfunction.
As ovarian function declines, levels of estrogen and testosterone fall. The adrenal glands also produce testosterone, but there is a slight delay of increase production of testosterone when ovarian function is decreasing. This can cause an initial decrease in libido in late peri-menopause which then improves a bit later in menopause.
Women taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy) often state their desire and vaginal lubrication improves with use of HRT, however this form of therapy is not used as much due to side effects of hormone therapy. Medical providers have also looked at testosterone hormone therapy and this can help replenish low levels of testosterone but does not always improve libido.
Researcher have found that hormone levels are not good predictors of sexual function. Again, this is not a simple issue in women and there are not simple solutions. But there are some solutions-
Lets talk a little about the physical part of sex.
One of the early changes during menopause is vaginal dryness which can cause painful intercourse. This can certainly affect desire. Use of vaginal lubricants can improve this dryness, vaginal estrogen products can also be helpful in restoring vaginal lining to a thicker more normal lining which can also produce some lubrication. Vaginal estrogen is generally very safe.
I also mentioned arthritis type pain which can make intercourse painful. It is important to explore different positions which may reduce pain. Another frequently mentioned problem is the slower sexual response, where orgasm can take longer or be difficult to achieve. This is in part due to decrease vascular engorgement because of mucosal thinning and lower hormone levels. This is an area where researchers are looking at Viagra to help with orgasm.
Other issues affecting sexual function include
- possible ill health of the partner and their inability to participate is sexual activities as much as in the past.
- Depression can also affect desire, antidepressant medication can affect people physically and their response.
- Lastly there are many households where children are returning home
- or parents are moving in, this can of course add stress to a household and decrease spontaneity.
So what can a woman do to enhance her sex life, and improve desire?
First thing is to discuss openly with your partner how you are feeling and what you perceive to be the problems. A woman’s desire is very closely tied to the intimacy she feels towards her partner. It is important to understand that response times are slower and more time is needed.
It is also helpful to focus on pleasure and move from goal oriented sexuality, and to try different sexual acts.
You can use vaginal lubricants such as Astroglide, KY jelly;
Zestra is an oil which can temporarily increase sensation when spread over the clitoral area.
There are different herbal products which are proported to increase desire but it often requires several products taken daily and regularly.
It is important to exercise
and eat well to promote good health overall
and to keep energy high and promote well being and improved body image. Regular sexual activity also improves blood flow and muscle tone, and this also includes masturbation which promotes the same benefits.
Lastly, it is important to talk with your medical provider if you are having problems that are distressing to you.
Surveys found that the majority of women are comfortable talking with their medical provider, but did not want to initiate the conversation. Unfortunately, not a responding amount of providers initiated these conversations, so you may have to bite the bullet and bring up the topic. I would suggest you bring your concerns up early in the visit to give your provider the chance to adequately address your concerns.
Share with us your experiences, difficulties and questions. We all want to hear your stories.