Did you notice that stores swapped Christmas garland and lights for chocolates and heart-shaped décor even before the new year began? People eagerly anticipating a romantic holiday may find this exciting, but for those not feeling very sexual, Valentine’s Day only adds to the pressure.
It’s not uncommon for women in menopause to experience low libido, vaginal dryness, or pain during sex—all of which can affect your thoughts and feelings toward physical intimacy.1 So, when February 14th rolls around, some menopausal women may not feel like celebrating.
If Cupid isn’t in your corner right now, don’t despair! Here are some tips to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day during and after menopause, because you deserve to enjoy the holiday—even if things feel a little different from 10 years ago.
1. Boost Your Body Image
Coming to terms with a changing body is a big reason some women in menopause don’t feel sexy, but it’s totally possible to boost your body image, even as you age. And this shift toward a more positive body image may even help boost your menopause sex drive.
How can you get started? Try balancing negative thoughts with positive ones: don’t like the shape of your upper body? Focus on your shapely legs instead, put on a pair of capris and show off those strong calves! 2
Consider also adding exercise to your daily routine. Regular walks and light strength training have the power to positively affect the way you feel about your body. Exercise can help to significantly reduce stress and anxiety, in addition to boosting overall happiness and wellness—and it can even spice up your sex life.3 We’re serious! There are actually a handful of exercises specifically designed to improve sex after 50 that may be worth exploring to support your sex drive during menopause – check them out!
And don’t discount the positive effects buying yourself some new makeup or sexy lingerie can have. If it makes you feel confident and beautiful, then there’s no reason not to treat yourself.
2. Talk to Your Partner About Sex on Valentine’s Day
You shouldn’t have to deal with discomfort from sex on your own, and you definitely shouldn’t feel like you need to hide it. You and your partner are a team, so be sure to share how you’re feeling, both physically and mentally, with them.
Maybe recurring UTI’s, which can become common during menopause, make it difficult to get in the mood, or perhaps vaginal dryness is making sex painful. Talking honestly with your partner about why sex is difficult for you is important, and ideally, you and your mate will work together to come up with viable solutions.4 Sex, specifically on Valentine’s Day, may seem like it’s a requirement, even if it’s not expected – so, be sure to keep communicating and celebrate in a way that suits both of your needs.
3. Try a Few New Sex Positions
It’s no secret that sex during menopause is a bit different than when you were younger. Due to hormonal changes experienced during menopause, the vaginal lining can dry out and lose elasticity, which may cause discomfort, pain or even bleeding during or after sex. This loss of elasticity and natural lubrication can also make the vagina more prone to microabrasions during sex, which are tiny cuts in the vagina caused by friction that can put you at a greater risk for infections.
But don’t give up!
Investing in a good vaginal moisturizer and/or lubricant, can help to make sex more comfortable and ease symptoms that can contribute to pain or bleeding. Once you’ve addressed the physical discomforts experienced with insertion or penetration, it’s the perfect time to experiment with new sex positions, which may make intercourse more comfortable and spice up your Valentine’s Day. A few sex positions to consider, include:5
- Hop on top – If you experience pain deep in your vagina near your cervix when having sex during menopause, being on top can help you control the penetration depth, as well as the pace.
- Consider a position on all fours – When your partner is behind you, it’s easier to stimulate your clitoris during penetration – many women may not be able to orgasm from penetration alone, so this can be a great option to make sex more enjoyable for you and your partner.
- Oral sex is still sex – Not feeling like penetrative intercourse today? Oral sex is a great option! If you’re someone who struggles with persistent pain on insertion, oral sex still allows for mutual pleasure while limiting pain – you can take turns pleasuring each other or explore positions that enable you to experience pleasure simultaneously.
- Try outercourse – In addition to oral sex, “outercourse,” or any type of intimacy that doesn’t involve penetration, can be a pain-free alternative, too! Think mutual (or solo) masturbation, using personal massagers, or even testing out a heavy make out session.
Be sure to keep some pillows and plenty of lubricant on hand, however, to help you maintain comfort when trying any of these sex positions.
4. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Other Types of Intimacy
Remember, intimacy isn’t just about sex. If you truly feel out of sorts when it comes to penetrative sex, focus on other things that make you physically feel good. Kissing and holding hands are simple but romantic gestures, and backrubs are an amazing way to embrace the pleasure of touch with your partner. Also, remember to flirt! It’s fun, sexy, and it can make you both feel desirable.6
5. Consider Reading/Watching/Listening to Erotica
Getting properly aroused can certainly help to get things going. Cueing visuals on screen or in your imagination can be a great way to get your mind in the mood – and you can experiment with any of these ideas alone or with your partner. Try Googling: “hottest sex scenes on Netflix” or watching an adult film that puts you in the mood; consider reading a paperback romance novel, or even using your imagination to get your heart (and thoughts) racing. Tuning into sexy music can help, too. Sometimes we just need to get our brain on board first, and ideally our body will follow.7
6. Make Time to De-Stress
Challenges that frequently occur in midlife—work responsibilities, financial issues, caring for teens and aging parents—can make it difficult to relax, which can also affect your sex drive.
Stress often takes a toll on relationships and depletes your energy levels. Making a point to engage in activities you enjoy can help you find peace with yourself, which, in-turn, may carry over into your romantic relationships. 8 Consider:
- Meditation to relax your mind
- Exercise to feed your physical body
- Practicing deep breathing to reduce anxiety and stress
- Making sleep a priority
- Eating nutritious meals and snacks
Sex on Valentine’s Day Isn’t a Requirement
Focusing on activities and feelings that you enjoy—with the end goal of channeling your inner sexiness—is key as you enter menopause. If your self-image, specifically in the romance department, has been lacking, there’s no time like Valentine’s Day to start a new and improved “me first” mindset, because you absolutely deserve it!