Women, ageing and sex: how it changes

Siski Green / 03 November 2015

You might think it’s all downhill after the menopause, but for many women quite the opposite is true.



Your body doesn’t moisturise as well

If you’ve found yourself licking your fingertips to turn the pages of a book, it’s probably because your body isn’t as good as it once was at keeping your skin moisturised and supple. 

And if that’s the case, it’s probably not as good at producing moisture for sex either. “Lubrication is the body’s way of making penetrative sex more comfortable and easier,” says Kerner. “But because of falling oestrogen levels, that moisture isn’t produced as quickly or effectively, potentially leading to dry and uncomfortable sex.”

You may need to try a water-based lubricant to make sex more comfortable.

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You’ll need more time

While you might be more likely to reach orgasm when you’re older, it does take you longer to get there. “Both arousal and orgasm may not come quite as quickly as they used to,” says Kerner. “That’s partly down to slower responses overall but also the drop in oestrogen, which makes your body less responsive to stimulation.”

Read our tips for five great ways to have better sex

You may find a new sexual confidence

It’s strange but as you and your body age, you’re actually like to gain more sexual confidence rather than lose it. “Young adults report less satisfying sex when compared to older adults,” says sex therapist Dr Ian Kerner, of goodinbed.com. “This is probably partly because they’re more worried about their appearance and getting things ‘right’ but they also lack in experience compared to their older counterparts.” This greater confidence leads to more sexual satisfaction, leaving you with a big smile in your face!

But menopause can turn your world upside down

While older adults in general tend to be less insecure about body image, menopause can disrupt your self-perception in several negative ways. You may put on weight, you may experience hot flashes and have trouble sleeping, and the emotional effect of going through ‘the change’ can also make you feel less sexually attractive. 

“Women are often more critical of changes in their body shape than the men in their lives are,” says Kerner. “The key here is to talk to your partner about what’s going on so that if you’re not feeling physically confident enough to enjoy sex, you can work on that issue together.” And, see your GP to find out if there are medications that can ease your transition, making it a more gradual process.

Read our guide to menopause symptoms

All those changes can lead to good things

Once you’ve come to terms with ageing and can accept who you are, the inhibitions you felt before can completely disappear leaving you to enjoy an even more creative and experimental sex life. “As we age we tend to care less about what others think and spend more time focusing on what we really want out of life,” says Kerner. “That can mean enjoying new things that social taboos would have prevented when you were younger.”

Find out how sex can be good for your health

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.