Why is menopause making me self conscious?

Sometimes menopause can make us feel concerned about our bodies, with insecurity and self consciousness striking where we may have previously felt confident. Feeling awkward or anxious about your body can sometimes lead to avoiding sex.

But try to remember that your partner is making love to all of you – if you have been together for a long time, attraction is not just about looks, but is about your shared experiences and the life you’ve created together.

If you have become self conscious when you never were before, your partner may find this hard to deal with. This is where you need to communicate openly, as blanket reassurance from them is not usually helpful – it’s often not enough for them to offer platitudes like “you always look lovely”.

Often a practical approach can help. For example, ask them to be sensitive to what would makes you feel less self conscious – perhaps making love with the lights off, or partially clothed. Patience and understanding is much more effective than irritation in helping one another to relax and forget body concerns. Remember, body shape alters with age and it’s important not to put undue pressure on yourself with unrealistic expectations. Being able to share your thoughts with a non-judgemental, supportive partner really helps.

Your partner is your equal, and as you journey through life together you will each bring challenges to the relationship which you need to address together. As with any other life change, the menopause is something to approach together, examining the effects on you both and working on the best ways to handle and overcome any hurdles.

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Will I lose my sex drive?

The changes in your hormonal balance can sometimes lead to loss of libido, and if you’re suffering from a lack of body confidence too then it can be difficult to feel as if you’re sexually attractive. But the idea that the menopause signals the end of a woman’s sexually active years is fast losing ground. Sex is no longer a purely procreational activity. As most women can expect around a third of their life to be post menopausal it’s important to realise that a healthy, satisfying sex life can still exist once you’ve gone through the menopause. For some women, menopause brings a sense of sexual liberation.

For many couples, going to bed together at the end of the day is a time to catch up, chat and cuddle, and is often the only time they have to be close and physical. If night sweats or insomnia are getting in the way, some couples choose to sleep apart. While this might feel like a good practical solution, it can create physical distance and make couples feel isolated from each other if there isn’t any other physical intimacy in their relationship.

If you find that your usual sexual activity isn’t working for you any more, then you could talk to your partner about experimenting with different sexual positions that would make intercourse more comfortable.

So while feeling more self conscious as you go through menopause is perfectly understandable, it’s important not to let this start to drag you down. If you feel that your life, health or relationship is suffering as a result, then it may help you to see a therapist who can talk things through with you.

About Relate

Relate is the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, and every year nationally helps over a million people of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations to strengthen their relationships. Relationships with family, partners, friends and colleagues play a big part in how happy we are. Alison Towner has been working at Relate for 14 years and is a Relationship Counsellor, Psychosexual Therapist and Supervisor. She also works in the NHS and has been involved with training Psychosexual Therapists. Jo Glazebrook, Centre Manager for Relate Nottinghamshire, is passionate about leading an organisation that promotes the importance of strengthening relationships. Find out more by visiting Relate