Keeping your relationship healthy during menopause

Legs in bed

I’m 49 and perimenopausal. I had what I call my ‘lightbulb moment’ four years ago. I had read yet another depressing menopause article in the press, talking about the inevitable weight gain, decreased libido and vaginal dryness, alongside the usual stock photo of a miserable, frumpy woman sitting on a bed.

Like many women, I really didn’t identify with what was being said or the image portrayed, so I decided to make some changes as I journeyed through the perimenopause and menopause.

That sneaking weight gain

There are only so many years where you can use your youngest child as an excuse for your muffin top. It’s okay when they’re small but not when they are heading towards their teens!

My husband and I have been together for 26 years, and married for nearly 20. Like many couples, we had gained weight over the years, making us feel unhealthy and uncomfortable. Having a family history of heart disease we both thought we should try to cut our risks, too.

After watching a television programme about the 5:2 diet, my husband was inspired. Seeing him lose weight after only two weeks, I decided to join him. I’ve tried slimming clubs and lost weight, only to put it back on and more when I stopped the diet. On this eating plan, you eat normally for five days then dramatically cut your calorie intake for two days.

I lost over a stone after the first two months, while my husband lost two stone over eight months. As it was a lifestyle change, not a diet, we’ve both kept the weight off after four years.

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Doing it together has been great as we encourage each other when one of us wants to cheat, usually me! We walk around three miles each day, sometimes together which gives us time to talk, too.

I love sex!

I’ve always liked sex but haven’t always enjoyed it, experiencing years of thrush, bacterial vaginosis, frequent cystitis and urinary tract infections. These lead to vaginismus, when the vaginal muscles tighten, causing pain during penetrative sex. This happened because every time we had sex I’d think “am I going to be up all night on the toilet or itching the next day”, causing me to tense up.

After researching this issue I discovered that not using sexual lubricant was causing friction to my vaginal walls, leading to thrush. When we did use lube, the products we used contained glycerin (as do nearly all commercial lubes, and even some on prescription) which was exacerbating my thrush symptoms.

I also began to experience vaginal dryness in my early 40s, making me feel sore and uncomfortable. I now use organic lubricants, and all my symptoms have greatly decreased, transforming our sex life as it feels more comfortable and pleasurable. In fact, I can’t imagine having sex without it!

However, several years ago I confess that my mind wasn’t always focused when having sex and my husband would often say “where are you?”

It took a while for me to realise that I needed to switch the unwanted chatter off in my head and concentrate on what was happening to my body. It also seemed unfair to him as he has always been attentive to my sexual needs but got little back from me.

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The lightbulb moment was when I decided to take charge in the bedroom, rather than lying on my back or waiting for him to initiate sex, much to my husband’s delight.

Focusing on what is happening to my body and how his body makes me feel has led to me finding my G-spot at last and enjoying many blended orgasms, especially when I’m on top. My lovely husband definitely noticed and thoroughly enjoys my sexual ministrations.

Losing weight together has boosted our sex life by making us both feel more body confident, leading us to explore new ideas, try sex toys and confide our sexual fantasies to each other, all of which has raised our sexual enjoyment. Even after all these years together we’ve been surprised to discover we share the same sexual fantasies but never told each other. I’m so pleased we have now!

I quite like the way I look now, something I probably wouldn’t have said five years ago and dress to suit my new shape rather than covering up with jeans and a baggy jumper.

Even if my libido decreases during the menopause I’m staying sex positive because I know there are many ways I can continue enjoying a great sex life whatever my age.

About Samantha Evans

I co-founded Jo Divine, an online sex toy company, with my husband Paul in 2007. I'm always exploring ways for both men and women to take control of their sexual health to increase their sexual pleasure and general wellbeing. Whoever you are, I passionately believe that it is always possible to enjoy sex by being imaginative, adventurous and making it fun. Having a professional background in nursing I also work with healthcare professionals, helping them to discuss sexual issues with their patients and find ways to overcome them by recommending our articles and suitable products. I have three teenage children.