Healthy Mind

5 things no one tells you about navigating intimacy, when you’re going through perimenopause

Emma Harpham in partnership with YES®  |   4 Jan 2024


Perimenopause sex tips to bank

Perimenopause will happen after the age of 40 for most of us. The resulting emotions and physical symptoms can impact our day to day in all sorts of ways – and the same often goes for our sex lives, too. 

We’re seeing more conversations around perimenopause sex happening these days, but the realities of how these big hormonal changes (whether that’s during perimenopause, or from month to month for those who have periods, and even postpartum) can impact our sexuality is a topic still so often overlooked. 

This gap in the dialogue can lead to more questions than answers, creating a space where shame and isolation can grow. 

Here at team TRB, we’re all about having those conversations – openly and honestly. So, together with YES® (AH! YES® in the US), our go-to brand for all things intimate wellbeing and breaking taboos, we’re shedding light on things no one tells you about sex and pleasure during perimenopause.

Navigating perimenopause – stages, symptoms, and your sex drive

Perimenopause is the transitional phase that precedes menopauseand it can last up to ten years.

During this transition, hormonal fluctuations (primarily involving oestrogen and progesterone) can lead to a variety of physical and emotional changes. Think hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness.

And, if that’s you right now, you’ll probably also be very aware of the fact that the most distinctive feature of perimenopause is the irregularity of your menstrual cycles.

You might notice changes in the length and frequency of your periods, as well as changes to your flow, pain levels, and other typical monthly symptoms. 

It’s safe to say that experiencing any or all of these can really do a number on your sex drive. But, whilst society may seem to suggest otherwise, perimenopause sex can be pleasurable, and even open up new avenues for exploration.

perimenopause sex

So, what’s there to know about perimenopause sex?

1. Hormonal changes can cause your perimenopause sex drive to change (in ways you might not anticipate!)

Navigating perimenopause can feel a bit like riding a hormonal rollercoaster – and you might find your sex drive takes a detour, too. 

Hormonal changes during this time can cause your libido to shift and fluctuate, sometimes quite unexpectedly. Everyone is different, and you might find yourself swinging between high desire and moments of lower interest. Some women experience quite drastic longer-term drops in desire, whereas some find their libido suddenly increases!

What no one talks about is the fact that taking this time to get to know your ‘new normal’, as well as experimenting with different forms of intimacy and finding what feels right for you can add a layer of excitement to your sexual journey. 

Looking to try something new? We’ve had our eye on the YES® O YES – Organic Clitoral Stimulant Oil. Available in the UK, it’s formulated to stimulate desire, quicken arousal, and intensify pleasure during foreplay and during climax. Yes please! 

Prioritising that pleasure, staying curious and understanding your body and its changes can even feel empowering, and sharing this curiosity with your partner(s) can lead to a more fulfilling and enjoyable intimate life during perimenopause.

2. Many experience perimenopause vaginal dryness, but you don’t need to ‘just accept it’

Perimenopause vaginal dryness is really common and occurs as a result of those oestrogen levels naturally fluctuating and decreasing, so you’re not alone if you’ve noticed any changes down there!

However, vaginal dryness doesn’t have to be a roadblock to intimacy, or a compromise on your day to day comfort. Understanding the root cause of perimenopause vaginal dryness can empower you to take proactive steps. 

Our first recommendation? Seek out a specific moisturizer for the vagina and vulva.

We love the YES® VM Vaginal Moisturiser (that’s the AH! YES VM Natural Vaginal Moisturizer in the US) because it’s a handy, long-lasting way to replenish your natural moisture, as and when you need it. Its smart moisture release formula will only rehydrate the cells that need it, preventing damage to the cells. 

It is also pH is balanced to match your typical vaginal pH, and you can use it daily, or alongside a lubricant for sex, depending on your personal preference.

Want to learn more about preventing vaginal dryness? Read our 101 with the YES® team here.

best lube for perimenopause vaginal dryness

3. You shouldn’t have to deal with painful sex in perimenopause

Speaking of dryness, let’s talk about something that often goes unspoken – painful sex in perimenopause. When your vaginal tissues get dryer, they can actually become more delicate and prone to tearing, which can at times make sex feel uncomfortable. And if you’re uncomfortable, you’re not aroused. Which can feel like a bit of a vicious cycle!

The good news is that you don’t have to be stuck with this. Investing in a high-quality, water-based or plant-oil lubricant can work wonders for easing discomfort, and even help you feel more turned on.

We reach for the YES® WB Water-Based Lubricant (that’s the AH! YES WB Water-Based Natural Lubricant for US readers). It’s glycerin and paraben free, organic, and ensures a natural, intensely hydrating, and gentle sexual experience.

There’s also the YES® OB Oil-Based Lubricant (the Soothing Plant Oil Natural Lubricant – AH! YES® OB in the US), too. Simply apply either to your vagina, and your partner’s penis (if they’ve got one) before you get started.

You can even use a water-based and plant-oil lubricant together to achieve the double glide effect discovered by Ruth Hallam Jones. Getting the hydrating benefits of a water-base with the cushion, glide and longevity of a plant-oil. Check-out the YES Double Glide YES® DOUBLE GLIDE (DG) – Lubricant Combo Pack for this!

And talking of which, prioritizing foreplay and taking things slow can help your body adjust and enhance overall comfort, too.

If pain does persist, do book a consult with your healthcare provider, though. They’ll help rule out any underlying health causes, and be able to recommend other treatments like pelvic floor therapy.

4. Sexual wellbeing best practices still apply

Keeping your sexual wellbeing top of mind during perimenopause isn’t something that’s talked about enough, we think.

It may sound obvious, but if you’re switching partners, getting tested and actively protecting against STIs is still really important. And although it’s fairly uncommon, it’s worth remembering that it may be possible to get pregnant naturally during perimenopause – especially if you’re still having the occasional irregular monthly bleed.

Using condoms, or any contraceptive that aligns with your body and lifestyle for at least a year after your final period, is recommended. 

Also, although there probably isn’t a direct link with perimenopause, the risk of certain gynaecological cancers does increase through midlife with age.

So, keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms like persistent pelvic pain and any abnormal vaginal bleeding, so you can chat through them with your healthcare provider.

perimenopause vaginal dryness tips

5. Your mental health might play a bigger role in the bedroom – and that’s totally okay

Your mental health and body image might influence your perimenopause sex life, too. Shifts in hormones, as well as stress, anxiety, and changes in weight and mood, might impact how you feel in your own skin. 

Feeling good about yourself often translates into feeling good in the bedroom, so try to engage in activities that boost your mental wellbeing. Whether it’s meditation, gentle exercise, or spending quality time with loved ones, finding that support is key during this time.

And don’t forget about the power of communication, either. Sharing your thoughts and concerns with your partner can strengthen your bond and create a supportive environment for navigating intimacy during perimenopause. You’ve got this!

Creating a positive dialogue around perimenopause sex and intimacy

There we have it! The top five things that we feel aren’t talked about enough when it comes to perimenopause sex.

Bookmark this, and remember that your evolving self is a beautiful and valid part of your intimate journey – whenever you need to foster a sense of positivity during this transition.

Connect with YES® for more support. Their perimenopause-friendly products are a complete treat, and their wellbeing hub is packed with handy resources, FAQs, and top-notch tips. 

Shop the range here in the UK and here in the US, and use code TRB20 for an exclusive 20% off in both stores.

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