Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sex and the Aging Woman

As women, we go through many changes with our hormones over the years, from the time that our menstrual cycle starts in our teens or pre-teens, to the time that it ends, post menopause. Most of us maneuver our sex lives around our cycle, for obvious reasons. And there are many other things that can affect our desire over the years, from child-bearing, to child-rearing, to PMS, to every-day stressors, to our jobs, to relationships, to menopause, etc., etc.

As we age, we go through health issues like fibroid tumors, that can cause pain and severe bleeding; to increased risks of many cancers of our reproductive system; to many other ailments that the recommendation to resolve them is a hysterectomy. For me, a hysterectomy would be the last remedy that I would ever resort to for any ailment, or to save my life; but for some a hysterectomy is a blessing.

There are three types of Hysterectomy's:
  1. Partial hysterectomy - The upper part of the uterus is removed, but the cervix is left in place. 
  2. Total hysterectomy - The entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed.
  3. Radical hysterectomy - The uterus and the ligaments that hold it in place are removed. The cervix and an inch or two around the vagina are removed. After the cervix is removed, the surgeon stitches the top of the vagina. It will soon seal with scar tissue and become a closed tube. The vagina does not become an open tunnel into the pelvis, like some women fear (ACS, 2017).
The ovaries and fallopian tubes, may or may not be removed, depending on the reason for the hysterectomy. Even leaving one ovary can prevent a woman from going through early menopause, because it can produce enough hormones. Leaving the ovaries are also important for keeping the sex drive intact.

A hysterectomy shortens the vagina, and may cause numbness in the genital area. There are many things that couples can do to continue a healthy sexual relationship after a hysterectomy; although many physical and psychological issues can occur for women after a hysterectomy, and if so, it's important to talk to your doctor, and possibly go into therapy.

Some women have happier and healthier sex lives after hysterectomy, so it doesn't affect all women the same.

FUN FACT
The soul purpose of 
the clitoris 
is pleasure, for women!!! 
😊

Menopause is the stages that a woman goes through at the end of her reproductive years. The end result is that her body can no longer make a baby. This natural process can take up to 10 years, and on average starts around the age of 52. Perimenopause is the onset of menopause and the years leading up to the final stages of menopause. Some women are mildly affected by menopause and some women are severely affected by menopause. The effects can be physical and/or mental, and these things can affect our sex lives.

The physical effects of menopause can include vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and a diminished sex drive. These issues should be discussed with a doctor, because there are treatments for these issues. Some women have a more fulfilling sex life Post-menopause, because they no longer have to deal with PMS and periods, or the mood swings that may come with that. They no longer have to worry about getting pregnant, and that's a great burden that's lifted for many. Post-menopause, you're usually at a stage of your life when you have a lot less inhibitions, and a lot more wisdom about sex and life in general, so that can add to sexual gratification.

There are other things that women go through during menopause that can affect their relationship with there partners. It's important for men to know and understand the possible effects of menopause, so that they are more able to be supportive and understanding.

Many women go through hot flashes, which is when our body temperature is no longer controlled by our internal system, because of a loss of estrogen; this is a natural part of menopause. Some of us get night sweats and end up with damp (to wet) pillows, sheets and night clothes. We can go from hot to cold to hot again within minutes, at any time during the day or night. This can be very annoying, and for some, unbearable. There are some remedies for this so make sure to talk to your doctor if this is unbearable.

A few things that we can do to help ease the night sweats are to keep a fan on near our side of the bed, wear lightweight cotton night clothes, use only a top sheet to cover us, and keep the temperature cool. Drink plenty of water, and keep some on the nightstand just in case you need it in the middle of the night.

Vaginal dryness is another symptom caused by the loss of estrogen. There are many different types of lubricants that you can get over the counter, and there are some remedies that your doctor can prescribe if necessary, so talk to your doctor about it. But in the meantime, check out the foods below that aid in having a healthy vagina. A few of them help to naturally increase vaginal moisture.

Depression can happen because of the hormonal changes and imbalances that we experience, during perimenopause. This is something that I've experienced, but have thankfully overcome. It took some focus on what I needed to do, in order to help get myself through it. I began to learn Tai Chi, which is good for meditation and relaxation; Yoga is great for this too. I also continued my workouts, which are important during any spells of depression. Working out releases endorphins, which are natural feel good chemicals that trigger positive feelings in the body.

I also decided at this time to learn to speak Italian. I've been wanting to learn a new language, and this gave me something else to focus on. Planning a trip to Italy was also something that I focused on, and gave me pangs of excitement through anticipation. All of these little jolts of feel goods and excitement, along with meditation and relaxation exercises, helped to get me through my depression, and now I feel better than ever. 😊

Emotional instability. You may become overly sensitive to things that didn't really bother or move you before. This can make socializing a bit more challenging. You may cry about things that normally don't make you cry; or you may get angry at things that you have no right or reason to get angry at. These things can become confusing, and even a bit scary until you realize that this is a symptom of menopause; but if this becomes more than you can handle, talk to your doctor.

FUN FACT
The clitoris has
8000
nerve endings!!!
WOW!!! 😲

Eating the right foods and beverages can keep your vagina healthy, stave off infections, ease discomfort, and even spice things up in the bedroom. Here are some foods that your vagina will thank you for eating:

  • Green Tea (catechins) - Helps fight UTI infections. 
  • Salmon and Tuna (Omega 3 fatty acids) - Helps relieve cramping.
  • Yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh (Pro-biotics) - For fewer yeast infections by helping to keep a healthy PH balance in your vagina.
  • Organic edamame, tofu, or tempeh (isoflavins) - For vaginal dryness. They mimic estrogen, and the lack of this hormone causes vaginal dryness.
  • Apples (phloridzin <which mimics the female sex hormone estradiol> and polyphenols <helps boost blood flow to vaginal tissue>) - For more fun in bed due to higher levels of lubrication and sexual function.

FUN FACT
During sexual intercourse 
the vagina swells to 
4 to 8 inches in length 
and 2.5 inches wide.


Throughout our lives, we as women go through many hormonal changes and fluctuations. Post-menopause is a phase in life to look forward to having relief from these changes. We can have more fulfilling sex lives, by no longer having to deal with the mood changes, our menstrual cycles, and birth control concerns. It's important to maintain good health by eating well, and working out regularly so that we can enjoy our years post-menopause. And remember that the more sex that we have as we age, the better our sexual organs work, so ENJOY!!! 😊

(Please access my references for more detailed information on my subjects.)

Talk to you all next time!!!

References

ACOG. (2015, March). Hysterectomy. Acog.org. 
     Retrieved from http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Hysterectomy
     #structures

American Cancer Society. (2017, January 12). Surgery can affect a woman's
     sex life. Cancer.org. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatments/
     treatments.../radical-hysterectomy.html

How Stuff Works. (2017). The ultimate sex quiz. Howstuffworks.com
     Retrieved from http://quizzes.howstuffworks.com/quiz/sex-quiz

Taylor, M. (2016 June, 2). 12 foods your vagina wants you to eat.
     Womenshealthmag.com Retrieved from http://www.womenshealth
     mag.com/food/foods-for-healthy-vagina/slide/4

WebMD. (2017). Exercise and depression. WebMD.com. 
     Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide
     /exercise-depression#1

Pic by pixabay.com

Uterus pic Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19263.htm


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  3. Even once they are sexually stimulated, some women notice that they're less wet before their period, and lots of older women find they have more foreplay to become aroused. Women who use water-based lubricants say these products increase their pleasure and satisfaction during sex. this sort of lubricant won’t damage latex condoms, and they’re less likely to cause vaginal discomfort than oil-based lubricants. They’re also non-staining and wash easily with soap and water. Use our Best lube for vaginal dryness.

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