Q&A: Afraid to have sex again

aging, sexuality, post-menopause, lubricants

Q&A: Afraid to have sex again

Dear Walker,

I broke up with my guy and it’s been months since I’ve had sex. I have masturbated some but nothing else is happening. Now I’m dating a guy and I like him but I’m a little afraid to have sex again. What if it’s painful or I find that my body has changed too much? Suppose I can’t get wet anymore.

Dear “M”,

Your concern is a common one for postmenopausal women and women who find themselves single for periods of time. And it’s a legitimate one–one of the best ways to keep vaginal tissue in good condition is through use. Don’t be afraid to have sex again–just start by having sex with yourself!!

Blood flow is important for all of our organs, muscles and tissue. In the process of arousal, blood flows to the genitals. It is blood flow that causes the clitoris to increase in size, just like the penis. Here’s how urologist, Andrew Siegel, MD, explains it:

Regular sexual activity is vital for maintaining the ability to have ongoing satisfactory sexual intercourse with the vagina staying fit and healthy if one remains sexually active, as nature intended. Vaginal penetration increases pelvic and vaginal blood flow, optimizing lubrication and elasticity, while orgasms tone and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support vaginal function. “Disuse atrophy” is a condition when the vagina adapts to not being used, with thinning and fragility of the vaginal walls and weakness of the pelvic floor muscles.   Source

As a single woman you can arouse yourself in several ways. Using a vibrator is a good way to feel pleasure and to have orgasms. But, given your concern and the fact that you mention (penetrative) sex you can, and probably should, self-pleasure in a way that includes some form of vaginal activity, i.e. insertion. You can use a dildo, fingers (one or more) or a dilator as a way of keeping your vagina active.

I know it can be a bit scary to think about sex as a postmenopausal woman if you haven’t had sex for awhile. The first step is to have a positive attitude paired with a good lubricant and a willingness to take care of your sexual needs. I can’t say enough how important it is to use a good lube. For self-pleasuring you can use a good quality organic coconut oil which has the added benefit of nourishing skin.  Lube coats vaginal tissues to create less friction when a penis, or sex toy, is inserted. It’s especially important for post-menopausal women as the decrease in estrogen production can reduce the amount of natural lubrication in the vagina.

My article on lubricants here might be helpful.

Before you have sex with a partner again, talk to them about your concerns. Do it before clothes start coming off. Buy a lubricant and insist on using it. Ask for what you want. Say no if you need to. Tell them to go slow–giving your body time to become aroused, which will help relax and lubricate you. If you feel vaginal pain during intercourse you may experience tearing of delicate vaginal tissue which could lead to discomfort and possible bleeding.

Remember you are in control of your body.  You get to set the conditions as to how you want to have sex. A considerate partner will be willing to listen and respect your needs.

If penetrative sex becomes painful see a gynecologist who specializes in midlife or menopause. There are medications and treatments that might be able to improve your situation. Do not suffer in silence or give up on sex. Consider non-penetrative sex as a way of connecting sexually with a lover.

PS: Guys who don’t have sex or masturbate for long periods of time may experience difficulty with erections and climaxing.

Photo by Greg V on Unsplash

  • Michelle
    Posted at 11:57h, 28 January Reply

    This is really good information to have!

    • Walker
      Posted at 12:05h, 28 January Reply

      Thanks Michelle. I know it’s a challenge for a number for women; probably men as well.

  • Cathy Chester
    Posted at 12:17h, 28 January Reply

    Such important and much-needed information, Walker.

    • Walker
      Posted at 15:34h, 28 January Reply

      Thanks Cathy.

  • Carol Cassara (@ccassara)
    Posted at 17:55h, 28 January Reply

    An encouraging piece of advice with actionable steps. Good counsel!

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