Addressing Midlife Sexual Problems
As women approach their midlife and go beyond 50 years of age, it is normally presumed that sex would not be a part of their lives. In the past, women were shy, tied up with children, did household chores, did not have privacy of a bedroom, or probably were still sexually active but did not speak about It, nor did their doctors talk about it!
Common Sexual Problems
But today, we know that women are sexually active much beyond this age. They are more expressive, demanding and vocal. They speak up about their difficulties and their frustrations. Usually the problems commonly faced by them are due to estrogen (female hormone) deficiency which reduces drastically during menopause, or problems which their husbands may have, mainly due to erectile dysfunction.
Estrogen deficiency causes vaginal dryness leading to pain during sexual activity. This reduces desire to have sex which results in less lubrication. Many men do not understand what their partners are going through and this can cause difficulties in their marriage. So, a large number of women go through their sexual life being uncomfortable and sometimes in pain, whilst a small percentage talk about it and seek ways to correct it.
Communication Is Key
Appropriate therapy can help a woman to enjoy sexual activity again and also increase her desire to match her partner’s. On the other hand, a woman may continue to have desire, but her husband may have a physical problem and hence fails to satisfy her, which of course she does not communicate to him. Furthermore, the husband does not feel the necessity to seek medical advice, because he remains satisfied, or is too embarrassed to see a doctor.
What The Stats Say
Unfortunately, this lack of dialogue between the couple related to this aspect of their lives can lead to the straying away of couples from each other. In a study carried out in South America, about 400 women were evaluated for sexual dysfunction with 33 per cent being menopausal between the ages of 40-59 years. A total of 55 per cent of the women complained of sexual difficulty due to vaginal dryness and their problems got worse when their husbands had associated erectile dysfunction – yet all of them continue to remain sexually active!
Sexual well-being is an integral part of living and there is a stereotyped view on sexual activity and ageing. Many false beliefs exist about sexuality in older age. Even though scientific studies have shown that there is a decline in the frequency of older women’s sexual activity, there is almost no evidence to suggest that older women have a decreased interest in sexual desire.
Some studies have shown that 70 per cent women between 50-90 years of age are sexually active whilst most studies indicate that 50 per cent women are sexually active with 40 per cent reporting sexual activity at least once a month, It is also well known that women who are sexually active at an older age, have better physical and emotional health, as compared to women who are not sexually active.
A large number of women go through their sexual life being uncomfortable and sometimes in pain
Addressing The Problem
Hence, it is important for us to revise our thoughts on this subject and try and see that these issues are addressed at every age, as the sexual difficulties which occur following menopause can be minimized by the use of oral or vaginal hormone therapy and the use of vaginal lubricants. However, there are many doctors who do not address this issue by not asking a direct question on this subject, whilst women may feel embarrassed to open the discussion with their doctors, especially if they are from the opposite gender.
There have also been very few women who have voiced their difficulties on their own, but when asked directly, they definitely speak about their problems and how they are coping with it. Nevertheless, hormone replacements can be considered as a last resort in restoring the interest in sex, if other methods fail to work.
So if one is just pretending to enjoy sex, It is best to speak up about these issues with their partner or a doctor, as revealing an issue to a doctor can help them understand and identify the solution that will lead to positive life changes. Some medications that don’t have side effects can help too.