Many women reach postmenopause without noticing a change in their sexuality. You may find that the freedom from birth control and menstrual periods increases your sexual interest and pleasure.
Some women have physical symptoms, such as vaginal dryness and loss of vaginal muscle tone, that require adjustments around the time of menopause. If sexual intercourse is painful because of vaginal dryness:
- Lubricate the vagina with a nonprescription lubricant, such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly, prior to having intercourse.. Avoid using petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, because it increases the risk of vaginal irritation and infection.
- Vaginal moisturizers such as Replens or Lubrin can be used on a regular basis to help reduce vaginal dryness.
- A low-dose vaginal estrogen (cream, tablet, or ring) can help restore thin, sensitive vaginal walls.
Firm muscle tone will help prevent other problems, such as the bulging (prolapse) of the bladder or rectum into the vagina. To help maintain the muscle tone of the vagina:
- Have sexual intercourse frequently. Sexual activity increases blood flow to the vagina and increases lubrication.
- Do Kegel exercises several times each day.
By Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine Last Revised April 26, 2012