What is Menopause?

Menopause is a naturally occurring stage ending a woman’s fertility over time. This typically occurs for women between the ages of 45 and 50 but varies from woman to woman and may begin much earlier or later. Menopause marks a shift in a woman’s hormonal balance which creates bodily changes that can have implications on her sexuality.

These changes can be both positive and negative but in some cases can be very detrimental to a woman’s sexual functioning, sexual satisfaction and relationship. Not to worry – our Psychologists and Sex Therapists are well equipped to help women facing this issue navigate these changes.

How does Menopause Effect Sexuality?

Most women begin to experience symptoms during the beginning stages of menopause. Certain symptoms (such as hot flushes) are common and may be occasional or mild in nature. However, many women experience more serious side effects due to the hormonal changes which affect their sexuality.

Vaginal Atrophy & Sexual Pain

When women undergo menopause, sex hormones such as oestrogen levels decline, their vaginal walls become thinner and drier. This is known as "vaginal atrophy", but for many women, it could easily and more accurately be described as "painful sex". Common associated symptoms include vaginal dryness, itching, burning as well as being unable to become sufficiently lubricated for sex. For some, sex not only can become extremely uncomfortable, but for some women, so painful that some become sexually fearful, disinterested or avoiding all forms of intimacy and sexual activity altogether.

Women may also experience a severe difficulties getting sexually aroused, as well as often experiencing difficulty reaching orgasm altogether. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that as many as one in five couples cease having sex altogether following the onset of menopause.

Menopause may also cause psychological distress for some women. Entering into menopause signifies both ageing and the end of a woman’s fertile period. As cultural attitudes of femininity are often connected to youthfulness and a woman’s ability to conceive, menopause may damage her sense of self as a woman.

Many women also struggle with body image issues and self-esteem during menopause which can cause sexual anxiety and avoidance. These sexual symptoms of menopause may in turn lead to relationship difficulty and further sexual issues with a partner.

Why Menopause Need Not Mean 'The End of Sex'

How FemTherapy Sex Therapists can help women to experience great sex and intimacy after menopause

While the idea of sex after menopause may seem extremely daunting, sex therapy can allow many women and their partners to continue to experience highly satisfying and pleasurable sex lives. Rather than endlessly endure either severe sexual discomfort or a cessation of sex altogether, our individualised treatment protocols are designed to match patient physical and sexual profiles allowing women to experience:

  • Decreases in levels of sexual pain
  • Improved levels of sexual confidence
  • Increases in levels of sexual desire and arousal
  • More intimate and satisfying sex.

Couples also receive practical instructions and directions in a variety of sexual activities and/or sexual aids, specifically designed to help women avoid pain and to enhance pleasurable sensation and arousal. Our therapist will also coordinate treatment programs with other health care professionals such as gynaecologists, physiotherapists and general practitioner doctors.

Our therapists are experienced in sexual health throughout the ageing process and can assist you in managing your menopausal symptoms. Individual focused therapy can help to explore and alleviate both physical and psychological distresses about ageing and bodily changes. Treatments may include different sexual techniques, directed self-stimulation, lubricants for vaginal dryness or recommendations for hormone replacement therapy.