by Jane Steckbeck, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach
In pop culture, menopause is not exactly seen as a time in which a woman thrives sexually and enjoys pleasure. While menopause can have effects that take a toll on libido and a woman’s interest in and enjoyment of sex, the truth is that there are plenty of older, sexy and beautiful women who enjoy sex, and who are experiencing fantastic orgasms and deep pleasure. For some, post-menopause is a time of shedding restrictive thinking about sex, exploring sex anew on her terms, and opening to pleasure unbound by cultural dictates. Wait. What? Yes, you read that right!
Thanks to my work with women in peri-menopause and menopause, I’ve know that this is not only possible, it's more common than you might think! And there are certain things that women can do — little secrets that I've learned over the course of my career — that can help elevate libido and keep sex fun and engaging through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80's, and beyond!
Make a decision to continue being sexual
I can’t overstate the power of making a decision to remain engaged sexually after menopause. Once a woman decides that menopause will not derail her sexuality, she’s well on her way to having a passionate and pleasurable sex life. I recommend that as part of this decision, women consciously choose to ignore all negative cultural messaging about older women and sex. It really doesn’t matter what others’ think.
Use an organic lube to help to enhance safety and pleasure
For many women, menopause causes vulvar and vaginal dryness which can make intercourse painful. Fragile tisses can lead to tearing which can also elevate a woman’s risk for STI’s. For some women, using a high quality, body-safe lubricant such as Aloe Cadabra or Good Clean Love can be sufficient. Other women will need more help, such as a non-hormonal vaginal moisturizer such as Reveree (and lube with intercourse), or a topical hormone such as a blend of estriol and testosterone (also using lube with intercourse). For some women, full bio-identical hormone replacement will restore the vulva and vagina to pre-menopause levels.
The point is: intercourse need not be abandoned due to pain! In my own situation, I recently began using a compounded topical cream of estriol and testosterone and it is working extremely well—after trying multiple non-hormomal measures, I can say I’m thrilled to be having pain-free intercourse once again. Don’t give up! There really are solutions! And: if a person does not want to have intercourse, she can always enjoy oral sex, hand play and using toys.
Understand that changes in arousal are common
It’s time to learn more about women’s arousal—and to accept that as we age, arousal simply takes more time: that’s not a bad thing! There are many ways for partners to enjoy slowing down and playing long enough for a woman’s arousal to blossom. The book, “Women’s Anatomy of Arousal” is a fabulous resource for learning more about women’s arousal and things we and our partners can do to faciliate arousal. In addition, consider this little trick: use a small, flat vibrator to encourage arousal by placing it on the labia—not the clitoris—at a low setting. While making out, or having your partner stroke your body all over, the rumbly vibe will help bring blood flow to the labia, enhancing arousal. The Je Joue Mimi Pebble is a terrific option.
Develop your libido
I’d love to tell you there’s one special trick that can turbo-charge your libido—but that’s really not the case. (Ok, there IS one special trick that CAN turbo-charge your libido: it’s connecting with a new partner and reveling in New Relationship Energy…) Outside of NRE and what people think of as “spontaneous desire,” many operate from “responsive” or “willingness desire.” With responsive or willingness desire, we agree to show up for sex, knowing that once we begin kissing, touching and playing, desire follows arousal.
To foster responsive/willingness desire and elevate libido, there are a multitude of actions women can take to nurture fantasies and cultivate eroticism. Here are a few ideas:
- Read erotica
- Watch films with erotic content
- Recall times where you were incredibly turned-on: what made those times so potent? Journal about it!
- Consider educational videos, women-friendly porn (erikalust.com and bellesa.com), or romance movies if porn doesn’t work for you
- Keep a sex journal: record sexy thoughts, inspirational fantasies; add in: erotic art, poetry, photos of sexy men/women, etc
- Experiment with fantasies while masturbating: nothing is taboo in the privacy of your mind
- Find your “tried and true” fantasy—one that always works!
- Make your bedroom sexy: soft sheets, candles, essential oils
- Get a new sex toy from As You Like It!
- Self-pleasure regularly (the more we have sex, the more we want to have sex!)
While not every woman over 50 wants to continue having sex, it's reassuring to know that great sex is possible as we age beyond menopause. I love working with older women in the sexual self-discovery process! If you're interested in knowing how you can reclaim spicy, fun, juicy and hot sexuality after 50, contact me at my website, janesteckbeck.com.
About the Writer
Jane Steckbeck is a Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach practicing in Eugene, Oregon. She is currently accepting clients, (women, couples, and select men) and sees clients in-person (fully masked) or via Zoom. Jane’s practice is talk-based only.