Kisses can work wonders in a relationship

Dr. Wendy Walsh

posted on October 2017

Humans are the only species on the planet, except whales, whose females live one-third of their lives wise, healthy, energetic, and sterile! But does sterile mean sexless? I think not!

Sex may have evolved in our species for the primary function of procreation, but sex also has many backup functions. It enhances bonding and helps our bodies make the feel-good hormone, dopamine, and the cuddle hormone, oxytocin. Sex also reduces stress, increases marital satisfaction, and has even been linked to longevity. And the amount of sex one needs to have all these amazing benefits isn’t as much as many think. Once per week seems to be the magic number. One study found that increasing the frequency of sex above four times per month didn’t result in any significant increase in benefits.

But if you’re a woman experiencing menopause symptoms, even the thought of once-per-week sex may make you sigh. Around menopause, a big drop in estrogen can reduce sex drive and contribute to painful intercourse due to vaginal atrophy or a reduced ability to self-lubricate. Add to that the mood swings and body image issues that often accompany menopause, and women ask themselves, “Is sex really worth it?” However, know this: Women report that when they do overcome the obstacles and engage in sex with their partner, they feel glad they did.

If you’re willing to try to get some of your sexual mojo back, here are a few tips to help you navigate the psychological and physical changes that often come with menopause:

• Talk to your partner candidly about what you are experiencing. Let’s face it. Your body is changing, and your sex life is changing, too. You can’t pretend you have a headache forever. Do your research, educate your partner, and tackle this problem as a team.

• Increase foreplay time. In many long-term relationships, the sexual script has become narrow. You know each other’s bodies. You’ve heard all of each other’s fantasies. You’ve got your go-to position. But extreme times call for extreme measures. Maybe this is the time to explore new fantasies, pornography, or sex toys. Even without these tools, ask your partner to increase the duration of kissing and non-genital touching to start your fire with a long, slow burn.

• Use a water-based lubricant. Sometimes, sex is painful during menopause because your body’s ability to naturally lubricate has decreased. Keep a tube of water-based lubricant on your nightstand. You may need to refresh often.

• Think young. Light a candle, turn out the lights and remember the great sex you had as a young woman. Sometimes women have their own discriminatory thoughts about sex and aging. They simply can’t imagine a sexy old woman. No matter. The brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality. Close your eyes and remember how hot you were, and your body will respond accordingly.

• Talk to your doctor. If vaginal atrophy is causing pain during intercourse or increased urinary tract infections, your doctor may recommend a vaginal laser treatment called The MonaLisa Touch that increases the thickness of the vaginal walls and makes sex more pleasurable.

• Have “outer-course.” If intercourse isn’t feasible any longer, don’t give up on other sexual behaviors that can give you a boost of happy hormones. Hold hands, hug, give massages, and practice oral and/or manual genital stimulation. And don’t abandon regular, slurpy kisses! They can work wonders in a marriage.