Menopause and Sex (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Will I have a low sex drive or other intimacy problems during menopause?
- How does menopause affect sexual function in women?
- Symptoms of peri - and -menopause that can affect sexual desire
- What are treatments are available for sexual problems during menopause?
- How can a woman heighten and improve her sexual function and desire during and after menopause?
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
What are treatments are available for sexual problems during menopause?
Estrogen therapy (ET) is available for women to treat symptoms of menopause, although due to some health risks (see below), not all women choose to take estrogen therapy. Estrogen, in pill, patch, trandsdermal spray, or gel form; is the single most effective therapy for troubling symptoms of menopause. Because ET alone can cause uterine cancer (endomketrial cancer), a progestin drug is typically given together with estrogen in women who have a uterus (those who have not undergone a hysterectomy) to eliminate this increased risk. Hormone therapy has been shown to have other risks, including small but significant risks of stroke and heart disease. Because of these risks, women who have no major menopausal symptoms may choose to avoid hormone therapy (HT) altogether. Most doctors agree that hormone therapy, when used for symptoms of menopause, should be used in the lowest effective dose and for the shortest time period of time possible.
Estrogen is also available for use in the treatment of vaginal dryness as an isolated symptom. Topical estrogen is available in forms of creams, vaginal rings (devices that secrete estrogen locally within the vagina for up to three months), and vaginal tablets. These products are inserted directly into the vagina, and they can help relieve some of the symptoms of vaginal dryness and discomfort. Water-soluble lubricants (such as K-Y jelly, K-Y Silk, liquibeads, etc.) can also be effective in the relief of vaginal dryness. Estrogen administered vaginally is given in very low doses, and it is noit associated with the risks of systemic (i.e. bloodborne) hormone therapy such as that given to treat hot flashes and other widespread menopause symptoms.
How can a woman heighten and improve her sexual function and desire during and after menopause?
As discussed above, the use of systemic hormone therapy or vaginal estrogen therapy can diminish vaginal dryness and decrease any discomfort associated with sexual intercourse. Water-soluble lubricants can also help overcome vaginal discomfort. Some women find that relaxation techniques, sensual massage, masturbation, or changing positions during coitus can heighten their sexual experiences. For women or couples who are struggling to understand and accept the changes in sexual function that may accompany menopause, counseling can be an option. Talk with your partner about the changes that are happening to your body. Some couples try counseling on an individual basis or as a couple.
Eden, KJ, et al. "Quality of Sexual Life and Menopause." Medscape.
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