When you’re going through menopause, it’s common to experience problems with vaginal dryness and low libido (sex drive). This can make having sex uncomfortable or even painful, making it difficult to enjoy intimacy with your partner and affecting your self-esteem.
Here's a guide to the best intimate aids to help you feel more comfortable, and more confident about sex during menopause.
As you approach menopause, your body experiences a drop in hormones, including oestrogen and testosterone. Falling levels of oestrogen can result in a thinning of the vulva and vaginal walls (vaginal atrophy) and vaginal dryness, which can make sex painful. Meanwhile, lower testosterone makes you feel less ‘in the mood’ for sex, and can also make it more difficult to have an orgasm.
These physical changes can also make you lose confidence in your body and in the idea of having sex. The good news is, there are some great products which can help to make sex more comfortable and more appealing!
Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants
If you’re suffering from vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy or sensitive skin, using a vaginal moisturising gel or cream can relieve soreness, repair damaged tissue and help with feeling confident.
The Live Better With community recommend Yes Water-Based Organic Vaginal Moisturising Gel, which is formulated to help combat the burning and itchiness associated with vulval and vaginal dryness, and Vagisan MoistCream which offers fast-acting relief from discomfort and can help to restore suppleness.
Meanwhile, applying a lubricant before sex can help to replenish the body’s natural moisture, relieving dryness, improving sensation and making sex more pleasurable (for you and your partner). The Live Better With community recommend Sylk Vaginal Lubricant & Moisturiser, which has a silky texture with no residue and is free from hormones, perfumes and other irritants.
Products to increase sexual pleasure in menopause
A loss of pleasure in sex is a very common feature of menopause, but again, products can help.Intimate Earth Gentle Clitoral Stimulating gel uses natural ingredients - including Japanese Peppermint oil - to encourage a rush of blood to the clitoris with a cool and tingling sensation.
Meanwhile, Intimate Earth Embrace Vaginal Tightening Pleasure Gel uses natural ingredients to causes the vaginal tissue to temporarily contract so that vaginal laxity is less of an issue and intercourse is more enjoyable.
As a woman approaches menopause, it’s common for the muscles in the pelvis (the ‘pelvic floor’) to become weaker and less toned, which can affect bladder control and also your ability to enjoy sex and reach orgasm.
Doing special exercises - known as ‘kegels’ - can help to tone up your pelvic floor muscles and improve sensation during sex. The exercises involve squeezing, holding and releasing your pelvic floor muscles several times in succession.
However, it can sometimes be hard to tell if you’re squeezing the right way! Many people find that using a pelvic floor trainer can help them to track their progress and stay motivated.
The Live Better With community recommend the Elvie Pelvic Floor Trainer, a pebble-shaped pod which is placed gently inside the vagina and measures the pressure exerted by your pelvic floor muscles. It also links up to the Elvie app for a range of simple, five minute workouts.
An affordable alternative to the Elvie is the Sincerely Sportsheets Kegel Exercise System, which is ideal for women interested in starting a Kegel exercise routine. It includes a set of three Kegel balls plus an instructional guide for training and strengthening pelvic floor muscles.
Another solution to the problem of vaginal atrophy is the the regular use of a dilator. This enables you to gradually and gently increase your vaginal capacity while also relaxing the pelvic muscles, making intercourse (and pelvic examinations) more comfortable.
The Inspire Vibrating 3-Piece Dilator Set uses medical grade silicone, which is soft, smooth and quickly adapts to body temperature for a natural sensation. When using a dilator, it is recommended to also apply a lubricant.
When you’re going through menopause, vaginal dryness can make you more susceptible to infections, irritation and bleeding. Harsh soaps and cleansers can make the situation worse, so it’s best to choose a product that’s natural and free of any unnecessary chemicals.
Many women find that using a specially designed cleanser, such as YES Cleanse Intimate Wash, can help. Gentle and pH-neutral, it contains naturally soothing organic plant actives Calendula and Aloe Vera and can help you to feel fresh, comfortable and confident in those intimate moments.
Many women find that taking a dietary supplement can help with the side effects of menopause, including problems with hot flushes, disturbed sleep, low mood and sexual problems.
In particular, maca root has been shown to help improve sex drive and sexual function, as well as helping with anxiety. The Live Better With community recommend Lindens Maca Root Tablets.
Meanwhile, Maryon's Menopause Boot Camp Kit contains everything you need to start tackling a range of menopause side effects.
Please note that maca root stimulates the production of oestrogen. You should always check with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Vaginal dryness, a loss of libido, and pain during sex can all have a significant effect on your relationship with your partner, and your self-confidence. To help rebuild intimacy it’s important that you feel relaxed and free from any pressure.
It’s also important to create the right mood. Set aside some time with your partner, when you know you won’t be disturbed. Try dimming the lights and putting on a relaxing aromatic candle or aroma diffuser, and enjoying a sensual massage together.
The Live Better With Essential Sexual Intimacy Kit contains a range of products specially selected to help boost your libido, including Replens Vaginal Moisturiser and Yes Organic Water-Based Intimate Lubricant, a gorgeous Starlytes Lavender candle, and Kneipp Back Comfort Massage Oil to help soothe away anxiety and tension.
You can read the Live Better With guide to the menopause and your sex life here.
Have you experienced issues with sex during menopause? Do you have any tips, or questions? Why not join the Live Better With community forum.