I’ve run a few pieces in this Sex After Menopause series, each of them documenting real-life stories of women navigating midlife sexuality. Hearing from women (in heterosexual relationships) is just half of the story, however. Men are clearly impacted by their lovers’ sexual evolutions, and their experience also deserves a forum. I’m grateful to the six men who agreed to share the most intimate details of their journey through menopause with the women they love.
I married my best wife when she was 48, after 14 years with my worst wife. Had about six years of a wonderful sex life — at last!
Then menopause hit and that was it. Sex became excruciating and libido packed up shop two years later (though sex only happened three to four times as we tried to see if there was any way to make it work). Doctors were no help. The only option they offered was HRT which she was afraid of due to the likelihood of encouraging breast cancer.
That was it. Game over. I’m eight years younger than my wife and frustrated as hell with no one to be angry at. I’m grateful to have met my wife and for the brief time where I did have a satisfying love life, but God, it’s been a tough road to hoe since then. I have to say, the letters you’ve gotten from couples bragging about “no problems here” do read like Penthouse Forum — unbelievable, given my experience.
My wife and I are in our early 70s, married 44 years and deeply, emotionally in love. My wife took HRT and avoided nearly all menopause symptoms, but at some point she lost interest in her own orgasms. Sex became all about intimacy and focused on my orgasm. She sometimes experiences brief pain on penetration which can be minimized by lube, gentleness, and angle.
We’re slowing down, but continue to make love five or six times a month, for which I am so very, very grateful. She is a sweetie.
I’m 70 and my wife is 67. We had great sex through menopause. She was in perimenopause for many years. When she got to about 65 it started to change. Intercourse became painful for her and she developed an allergy to semen. Now intercourse is out of the question and she has no desire for anything other than hugs.
Needless to say, I’m not happy. I’m still very much attracted to her and still have desire for sex in our lives every couple weeks. I guess I should be grateful to even be alive.
I was 28 and recently separated when I met J, who was also recently separated. She was beautiful, smart, fun-loving, wise, and she had led a fascinating life. Her remarkably fit body was the result of an ongoing commitment to ballet workouts. She also was 50-years-old.
Over the next eight years, we enjoyed a wonderful life together, including a rich and varied sexual relationship. Although she had ceased to menstruate during our first year together, she never experienced a loss of libido or lubrication or the capacity for powerful orgasms. Her easy and natural sexiness was a constant inspiration to this truly fortunate man. Use it or lose it!
I am 68 and my girlfriend is 64. She is the sexiest, most orgasmic woman I have ever been with (not an especially small number as I was single in my early 30s and worked in the health care industry, where there is a high percentage of professional females).
She has an incredible sex drive, lubricates just fine (although we do use some lube), and has multiple orgasms virtually every time — and no, she is not faking.
When her late husband died (she was 56), her gynecologist told her she was done with sex. That person should not practice medicine! She was so very wrong.
I have been married to my wife for 40 years. She went through menopause in her early 40s. She had breast cancer two years before menopause. The creams didn’t really work, sex just wasn’t the same. Since she had breast cancer, HRT is out.
However, we still have sex almost as frequently as before. We have sex three to four times a week. We had it a bit more before menopause but we have found ways to enjoy sex with each other that do not need penetration. Mutual masturbation and oral and always with some nice foreplay, we still enjoy each other.
I miss intercourse but my wife did not ask for this any more than I did but we make it work, and it’s usually fun! I hope some men will read this and decide there’s a way to stay happy with the woman of your youth.
*All names have been changed.
*I am not a medical professional and this piece is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician before starting any treatment for menopausal symptoms.
If you’d like to contribute your story to this ongoing series on sex after menopause, please e-mail me at [email protected]
Earlier on Huff/Post50:
“Medications that are prescribed for stroke issues and heart issues can have devastating effects on sexual functioning,” explains Dr. Janice Epp of the Institute of Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. In addition, researchers have found that a family of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) can take the winds right out of your sails. These drugs include brand names such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.
Don’t be shy — talk to your doctor about how your prescriptions are affecting your sex drive. “There are a whole lot of new drugs that don’t necessarily have those side effects, but it takes a lot of experimenting,” says Dr. Epp. “Sometimes it takes three to four different tries to find the one that’s best for you.”
“People of both sexes can develop pain disorders as they get older, and that can have a big effect on sexuality,” notes Patty Brisben,
founder and chairwoman of Pure Romance, a company that specializes in selling sex toys and providing information on women’s sexual health issues.
Brisben suggests re-evaluating your definition of sex. “Being intimate does not necessarily mean having sex in the traditional sense,” she says. Some solutions sensual touching and massages and mutual masturbation.
Dr. Epp suggests looking into new positions. “Sit on a chair, try being in different positions,” she says. “Side by side actually puts the least amount of stress on your joints.”
The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to eight hours of shut eye a night. But with the stress of work, kids, bills and, oh yeah, your marriage, who can think about fitting in time to have sex, much less sleep?
For some couples the days of random romps may be behind them, and that’s alright, says Dr. Epp. “Plan some sex dates around times that you know you feel more energetic — it lets you look forward to it,” she says.
“Some people say, ‘Sex should be spontaneous!’ to which I say bullsh*t,” she says, laughing. “You plan other things in your life and you don’t complain about it. You can do the same with sex.”
Waning libido and vaginal dryness are two unpleasant side effects of menopause. With increased longevity, “women can now expect to spend a third of their lives in post-menopausal years,” Brisben said. “So understanding how you’re being affected by those changing hormones is essential.”
A dip in estrogen may lead to thinning vaginal walls and itchiness in the area. According to the Mayo Clinic, treatments can include vaginal estrogen creams such as Estrace and Premarin; a flexible estrogen ring that is inserted; or estrogen pills, patches or gels.
“I think if you’re just now embracing this subject at or around age 50, you’ve got some catching up to do!” Brisben tells Huff/Post50. But it’s never too late to start having a frank and honest conversation with your partner about what you want in bed.
“I recommend having these conversations out of the bedroom and when you have some alone time,” Brisben says. “Be open, be receptive and be ready to listen.”
Don’t be afraid to bring some playfulness to the discussion. “Shop online for intimacy products together,” Brisben suggests. Or write your partner a letter: “Tell them what you’d like to introduce into your intimate relationship.” Another tact: Read sexy books together and share what interests you and what doesn’t. “If you find these conversations are still hard to have … a sex therapist or counselor is trained to help,” Brisben adds.
It’s the one part of aging and sexuality that gets the most attention: erectile dysfunction, which is often rooted in some larger physical problem, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic. Medications and drug and alcohol use can also play a role.
Ubiquitous ads promote the popular little blue pill to cure impotence, but there are other treatments as well, including vacuum pumps, implants and surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic.
According to the movies or steamy prime time television shows, passion goes from 0 to 69 with a mere glance, a bitten lip or a bad pun. But “as we age, our bodies slow down and we have less energy,” Dr. Epp tells Huff/Post50. “That’s naturally occurring, but it can have an affect on our sexuality.”
Rethink the connection between arousal and desire. Tell your partner if you need more than the average 20 minutes spent on foreplay.