There are many myths associated with menopause and many books have been written on this formerly taboo subject. This information will primarily focus on the sexual aspects of menopause.

During perimenopause you will gradually skip periods.

The medical community suggests that birth control still be used until you have gone at least a year without a period. The knowledge that you can no longer get pregnant and can “Do It” and not have to worry about birth control can be very freeing to many women.

Vaginal dryness is a common side effect of menopause because the body is not producing all of the same hormones that contribute to natural lubrication.

The vaginal tissues themselves become thinner and more prone to abrasions during sex. Using a commercial lubricant is quite necessary for a pleasurable sexual experience. There are also vaginal suppositories that can be prescribed by your doctor for everyday use. Orgasms can become less intense as the muscles of the cervix lose elasticity; Kegels are an excellent exercise for this issue.

Loss of libido also is a common occurrence.

While the natural decrease in estrogen can be a cause, there can be many other explanations. If someone thinks they are supposed to be less sexual after a certain age they probably will be. Many medications side effects can also lead to decreased libido. Increased stress with personal issues, juggling children, work and aging parents are huge mood killers. Talking with your partner about what’s going on emotionally and physically is very important, along with communicating any changes to your doctor.

Men are not immune from the effects of aging and midlife.

Andropause is very real yet seldom talked about or even researched. Starting at about age fifty testosterone levels begin to drop in men. Fewer hormones equals less libido. Men also are not immune from the stresses of life. The simple fact of aging may be what’s mentally slowing down the libido and many medical conditions and their treatments can interfere with the physical ability to get and maintain an erection. If you are not treating any particular medical problem, the loss of libido or the ability get an erection is not just middle age, it’s a clue that you should be heading to your doctor. Get over the embarrassment and be good to yourself and family by taking care of yourself.