The Menopause Gift Guide
By Emma McGowan
Menopause and perimenopause (which is the period of time before your period actually stops and your hormones are all over the place) can come with sexual changes. Most people experience at least some shifts in their sex life, while others go through major changes in their desire, comfort, and even the types of sex they want to have.
Which totally makes sense! Your body goes though massive hormonal shifts during the menopausal transition. As your ovarian reserve dwindles, your body stops producing the hormones that have caused you to ovulate since puberty. And just like the introduction of those hormones changed who you were as a sexual being, so too does their reduction.
There are also people who go through medical menopause, which is menopause induced by a medical issue. For example, younger people might have ovarian cancer, which leads to the removal of their ovaries, which then induces menopause. So while menopause most often affects people in their later years, it can actually occur in anyone who is post-puberty and has a uterus.
Common sexual issues with menopause
According to the Vaginal Health: Insights, Views, & Attitudes (VIVA) study, 75% of post-menopausal people reported that vaginal discomfort negatively affected their sex life. Much of that pain during sex is caused by hormonal changes and, specifically, the reduction in estrogen that happens when people are in perimenopause.
One of the biggest problems reported was pain during intercourse, which was caused by that lowered estrogen leading to reduced elasticity of the vagina, reduced lubrication, and pelvic floor weakening. The women in the study also reported lower sexual desire, either due to that pain during sex or because of other life stressors.
All in all? Things are feeling pretty rough for a lot of menopausal people’s sex lives. And, unfortunately, the majority of people aren’t talking to their health care providers about it: According to a 2018 paper titled Menopause and Seuxality, almost half of women report that they’ve never talked to their providers about the impact of sexual symptoms related to menopause on their quality of life. Even worse? Only 7% reported that their healthcare provider ever initiated a conversation about vulvovaginal atrophy.
But while we can’t prescribe you hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or help with the emotional part of this change in life, we can help you find products that will ease some of those sexual symptoms. Here are the top sexual aides for people who have gone through menopause.
1. Vaginal dilators
Many people find that if there are other physical issues—like decreased lubrication or elasticity—that lead to pain during sex, their muscles clench up at the thought of penetration. That can lead to chronic pelvic floor pain, which can in turn lead to a whole host of other sexual issues.
That’s where vaginal dilators come in. Vaginal dilators are plastic or silicone tubes with a rounded end that are designed to help increase vaginal elasticity by slowly stretching it over time. They’re also great for teaching your vagina that penetration doesn’t have to mean pain, because you can do it on your own time and at your own rate.
Dilators can be prescribed by your healthcare provider or you can buy them on your own. It’s a good idea to start with the largest size you can tolerate and then gradually increase in size over time, to your comfort level. (And, of course, use lots of lube!)
Remember that clenching we just talked about? It can also lead to deep pelvic pain during sex. One possible solution, if you want to continue having penetrative sex, is Ohnut.
We specifically designed Ohnut to help people dealing with depth of penetration and the product is a series of silicone rings that your partner wears on their penis (or on a penetrative toy). You can add or subtract rings in order to customize how deep you’d like penetration to be.
Customers (both menopausal and not) have found that they’re able to have pain-free penetrative sex, sometimes for the first time in a long time, and many pelvic health specialists now recommend Ohnut to patients who are experiencing painful sex.
Lube, lube, lube! We love lube! We love lube of all kinds and for all people in all sexual situations! And, specifically for people who have gone through menopause, lube is essential because your body isn’t producing estrogen anymore. That means more vaginal dryness and less elasticity.
There are so many kinds of lubes out there, for so many situations. And, lucky for you, we created an entire definitive guide to lube. Go check it out and get ready to live a much more comfortable (and more slippery) life.
4. Vaginal moisturizer
In addition to lube, many people who have gone through menopause find that a vaginal moisturizer is really helpful for everyday vaginal discomfort. That’s because the vagina and vulva are not only producing less lubrication during sex—they’re also less lubricated throughout the day.
No one wants an itchy vulva when they’re just trying to live their life. So treat that sensitive skin just as nicely as you treat the skin on your face and moisturize. (With a moisturizer that’s specifically designed for the vulva, of course. Ones that are made for other body parts could lead to bacterial and yeast infections, which really doesn’t solve the itchy vag problem at all.)
5. A good vibe
If you don’t already have a vibrator that you love, this is your sign from the universe to get one. And if you’re turned off by the size and shape and, shall we say, extremely phallic nature of old school vibes, you’ll be delighted to hear that the best vibrators are now designed by and for women. And they’re cute.
Take, for example, basically anything made by Dame. Their Fin is especially great for people who have joint pain or decreased dexterity, because you wear it on your finger and don’t have to worry about gripping on anything. If those aren’t concerns for you, however, they have a bunch of other options that deliver a range of sensations.
If you’re experiencing decreased sensation in your vulva, vagina, and clitoris, the best solution might just be an old school one. The (in)famous Magic Wand still provides the deepest, rumbliest vibe on the market. It’s also great for people who have reduced dexterity, because it’s big enough to grab, although it does lose points for being quite heavy and therefore not a great option for people with any joint pain.
6. A wedge pillow
Finally, add a wedge pillow to your cart! These handy pillows are designed specifically for sex, raising your pelvis up and supporting your back so you can help control penetration. They’re great for people of all ages and experiences, really, but they’re awesome for post-menopausal people who aren’t super interested in arching their lower backs anymore.
Bodies change—that’s just a fact of life. But, luckily, there are now products out there that were specifically designed for menopausal bodies. Because no one, of any age, should half to suffer silently through painful sex.