There’s a stereotype about menopause and sexless marriage. But is there any truth behind it? Let’s see what’s really going on.
One of the stigmas about menopause is that it means the end of your sex life.
But even if there won’t be any more babies on the cards after menopause, that doesn’t have to mean that your bedroom is now just for sleeping.
Lots of couples have great sex after menopause (or women have great sex in new relationships).
So why is there such a stereotype about menopause and sexless marriage?
Is there any link at all?
And, if you do find yourself in a sexless marriage that you’re not happy about, what can you do to change things?
In this article: 📝
- Can menopause cause a sexless marriage?
- Can a sexless marriage survive?
- How can you improve your sex life after menopause?
- Menopause and sexless marriage: A final word
Can menopause cause a sexless marriage?
Although menopause is a completely natural process that every person who gets periods will go through, it does change a lot of things about your body.
This means that sex during perimenopause (the few years where your hormone levels are declining) and sex after menopause (which starts 12 months after your last period) will probably feel a bit different.
You won’t automatically have a sexless marriage after 60 (or 50, or whenever menopause happens for you), but there are some reasons why your relationship can head in that direction:
Estrogen controls your menstrual cycle, especially ovulation.
As your ovaries go into retirement, there’s less and less of it in your body.
The problem is, estrogen is important for lots more than just your period. It also plays a role in:
- Vaginal lubrication
- Vaginal elasticity
- Libido (desire for sex)
So without estrogen, it’s more likely that sex will be painful, and more likely that you’ll find it harder to get in the mood.
Another consequence of menopause is that women often need longer to orgasm (while at the same age, men, annoyingly, can get there faster).
The bottom line?
Sex after menopause might seem like more of an effort than it did before.
Many women feel like they don’t have control over their bodies during menopause.
Others feel less positive about the way they look.
Then, on top of that, there’s the way the hormonal changes affect your general emotional wellbeing, with:
And on top of that, there’s the common problem of menopause insomnia, which doesn’t make it easier to cope with the emotional rollercoaster (or make you feel particularly sexy).
It might also be that what you’re attracted to changes: your sexuality.
And if that wasn’t enough, menopause tends to interrupt things when you’re at one of the busiest times of your life.
The average age of menopause is 51.
That means you could be at the height of your career, you might have older children to take care of, and you may have other caring responsibilities, too.
It’s a stressful time without all the curveballs your body is throwing you, and this can also affect your sex life.
Can a sexless marriage survive?
There are a lot of reasons why more couples get divorced when one of the pair reaches menopause, and lack of sex is one of them.
But other marriages stay perfectly intact even if sex is off the table (or out of the bed, so to speak).
The better question to ask is can a marriage survive without intimacy?
Because while sex and intimacy are linked, it is possible to have one without the other.
Intimacy comes in many forms – intellectual, spiritual, mental, and emotional.
How you and your partner choose to connect and feel close to each other is deeply personal.
A sexless marriage can only really survive if it’s something that both partners are comfortable with.
Of course, sex naturally will increase intimacy, but expressing love and desire for each other in other ways can also work towards strengthening your bond.
The issue arises when one of you isn’t ready to close the door on physical intimacy – that can quickly lead to resentment, which can exacerbate any other problems there are in your relationship.
It can also ignite insecurity or feelings of disconnection.
Communication is your greatest ally in this season of your marriage.
So much more than putting on a brave face and pretending this new shift is totally fine.
How can you improve your sex life after menopause?
If menopause and sexless marriage are part of your vocabulary now, and you’d like to change things, what can you do?
First of all, remind yourself that blame has no place here (we’re happy to do the reminding for you).
Menopause brings a lot of changes that are outside of your control – a lower sex drive being one of them – but many of these symptoms are temporary.
For some women, sexual difficulties can continue post-menopause, but this is rarely related to hormonal issues.
Lifestyle, psychological factors, relationship issues, and medication can all play a role.
The reality is there’s no cut-off point to sexual activity, it just may take a little creativity and extra support when you reach midlife and beyond.
Here are some steps you can take to help set you and your partner up for success:
1. Sleep in the same bed
Some couples swear that having separate beds makes their relationship stronger.
But most counselors would agree that that’s a myth.
If you’re suffering from menopause symptoms like insomnia, night sweats, joint pain, or restless legs, having your own space can seem attractive.
But if you’re already finding it harder to get in the mood, living like roommates won’t make it any easier.
2. Communicate openly
That means both sides need to:
- Talk honestly about their feelings, and
- Listen respectfully to their partner to build understanding and trust.
You may fear that communication means rocking the boat.
In reality, communicating is what keeps the boat balanced and moving forward.
It’s by not talking that distance will grow as both sides harbor unexpressed needs.
3. Look after yourselves
Both of you should continue to eat healthily, drink enough water, and exercise (or better yet sexercise).
If you want to find a new active hobby that you can do together, even better!
Keeping fit and healthy can help to manage some of the hormonal symptoms of menopause, but there are health benefits for both partners beyond this.
Staying healthy means better sleep, a stable weight, and a reduced risk of developing conditions like type two diabetes as you get older.
4. Get treatment if you need to
While supplements and essential oils can help with some menopause symptoms, if your symptoms are so bad that you’re facing a sexless marriage, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor.
They may recommend a blood test to check your hormone levels.
It’s worth noting that low libido is linked to both a lack of estrogen and a low level of testosterone.
So while your testosterone levels tend to drop a few years after your estrogen and progesterone, it’s worth finding out whether that’s playing a role.
Then you can work out the best plan for managing your symptoms – whether that’s hormone replacement therapy (HRT), other medications, natural remedies, or lifestyle changes.
By the way, if your partner is male and he also has issues that are impacting on your sex life, it would be a good plan for him to chat to a doctor about male sexual dysfunction, too.
5. Date each other again
Another silent killer of marriages? Being too comfortable.
Being comfortable with each other is a beautiful part of a long-term relationship, but it can also dampen the passion.
As your body moves through this new transition, it’s the perfect time to get to know each other again.
And, when you’re ready to get back under the covers….
- Spend more time on foreplay, or spend time cuddling without penetrative sex if that feels like too much. There’s more than one way to be intimate.
- Try positions that allow you to control the depth of penetration.
- Use lots of lubrication.
Menopause and sexless marriage: A final word
A sexless marriage after menopause is often framed as a problem that we, as women, have to fix.
In reality, it’s something that stems from a whole collection of upheavals in our bodies and our lives that we should be better supported through.
So, let’s talk and change the conversation around menopause.
Let’s communicate with our partners and with each other.
The Peanut Menopause community is a great place to start.