Intimacy is an issue for some but not all women in Surgical Menopause. Part of the fear surrounding intimacy post operatively can be psychological while the other part is physical, so it is important to address both of these issues in order to return to a healthy sex life. As being able to enjoy a positive relationship with intimacy is part of the human experience and contributes to one’s overall health and well being.
Start A Conversation:
To begin with, many women feel uncomfortable bringing up intimacy or sexual changes resulting from surgery with their doctor and sometimes even with their partner. Often sexual problems such as painful sex or lack of lubrication make women feel insecure or inadequate in the bedroom, as most were able to enjoy a healthy, uncomplicated sex life prior to surgery. Despite the natural anxiety surrounding the topic of sex if you can learn to communicate openly and honesty with both your doctor and your partner, you have a better chance at resolving the sexual issues you are facing. It is always better to approach problems from a proactive and positive stance rather than one of futility. In other words, attack the problem of intimacy issues from the point of view of “How can I make this better?” as opposed to, “Why am I no longer working the way I should be?” Beginning this kind of open dialogue with your partner can actually bring you and your partner closer together, as opposed to pushing them away which can lead to them feeling rejected. If you are still feeling hesitant discussing this topic, it may be time to bring in your doctor or a therapist to help you both navigate this area of your health.
Try Something New:
There is no denying that your body is different following surgery, so what worked for you before may no longer work for you in the same way. That’s okay, be open to rediscovering your sexuality and finding what will work for you now. You may need to take more time to emotionally connect to your partner throughout the day, get more sexually adventurous or creative, spend extra time on foreplay, or even employ sex toys if it will help you get in the mood or achieve orgasm. The key is being and staying open with your partner and communicating openly about what is or isn’t working for you. If your partner is feeling defeated that they are not satisfying you in the same way, use positive encouragement by focusing on what IS working, and what you do like. This can give them the incentive they need to continue to experiment with you and try new things.
From the medical point of view, dryness and atrophy are the main cause for discomfort in Surgical Menopause. As we explain in the Vaginal Atrophy and GSM section of our website, these issues are thankfully treatable and there are several options available. Typically women can experiment with the use of personal vaginal moisturizers, vaginal lubricants, vaginal estrogen and finally the Mona Lisa Laser. All are viable forms of treatment for dryness and vaginal atrophy; you just have to see which works best for you. With intimacy the rule of thumb is that lubrication should most often be used when there is penetration. A silicone-based lubricant is preferable to a water based lubricant (unless you are sensitive), as water based lubricants cause women to dry out faster.
Often women in Surgical Menopause find that the surgery has dampened their sex drive. This is not true of every woman with this condition, but it can be a troubling problem for those that experience it. Women may find that they no longer crave or have the strong appetite for sex they once did. Some find they have no sex drive at all. It is crucial to note that although you may not have the same drive, you can still get aroused and enjoy sex. Lack of sex drive does not translate to a lack of pleasure or enjoyment of sex. You may simply need to speak to your partner about them initiating sex more often, or you can set reminders for yourself so you don’t go too long without intimacy and thus are not neglecting your partners needs. On the medical side of things, some women report great success in reinvigorating their sex drive through the use of Testosterone. So if you are interested in seeing if Testosterone works well for you, consult with your doctor to discuss this option.