Sex in Menopause City
Study: Sexual Dysfunction in Women Is Not Automatic as Years Pass
The Really Good News: There Is Something You Can Do
Though there may not be a "magic sex bullet" right for all women, experts are increasingly acknowledging that least some of what may be putting that uncomfortable lump in your midlife mattress are factors clearly under your control.
As the new study indicates, this can include confronting new (or old) demons that may be causing depression and taking medication when necessary, dealing with relationship issues that need fixing (or sometimes even finding someone new), getting a thorough medical checkup including tests for low thyroid function and iron deficiency, as well as paying attention to any sexual side effects of medications. Perhaps most important for many women is considering how past sexual experiences or cultural or personal mindsets may be influencing how you view sex -- and the definition of sexual intimacy -- in your later years.
"Many women head straight into menopause believing that their sex life will suffer, and they act accordingly. I think the important point this study makes is that this is not a 'given' for every woman or even most women," says Reichman.
Goldstein flips the coin, encouraging women to also not "buy into a false bill of goods" when it comes to sexual expectations as birthdays sail by.
"One of the misnomers being foisted on many women is that a decline in sexual function must equate with distress, to the point where some of my patients begin believing that there is clearly something wrong with them just because they don't feel like swinging from the chandeliers, " says Goldstein.
In fact, he says, the noise currently being generated over female sexual dysfunction is such that it can actually create stress in a woman where there is none. And that, he says, can have an adverse impact on her sex life and every other aspect of her life.
"If you are not happy with how your sex life is playing out in your older years, then yes, by all means, talk to your doctor and seek a solution; but at the same time, don't feel compelled to do that or feel forced to change things based on something you read in a magazine or hear at the beauty parlor," says Goldstein.
Adds Reichman: "If we learn anything at all from this and other studies like it, it's that when it comes to sex, every woman is truly an individual and must be treated that way, in midlife and throughout her life."