How premature menopause affects intimacy

Friday November 17 2017

There is no reason to cease enjoying one’s

There is no reason to cease enjoying one’s partner just because of hormonal changes. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOACHIM OSUR
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When Jane missed her period for a whole year, she was relieved; it saved her money she would have spent on sanitary items, as well as the pain and stress associated with PMS.

And then she noticed something disturbing.

“I realised that sex was no longer exciting and in fact it was getting painful,” she explained when she came to the sexology clinic, “so I do not care if the periods come back or not as long as you sort this sex issue which is nearly breaking my family.”

The previous night had been a difficult one for her. Her husband wanted to know why she kept refusing to have sex with him. “He accused me of sleeping out with other men. He has stopped talking to me.

I explained that I just did not feel like having sex and he shouted and hurled insults at me,” Jane lamented.

Jane was 35 years old and a high school teacher. Her husband was a pharmacist with his own retail chemist business.

The couple had been married for eight years and had three children. Jane used a coil for contraception. Unlike some hormone-based contraceptives, a coil never causes periods to cease.

Further, Mary was in good health; she did not have a chronic illness that would cause loss of menstrual flow.

After taking a detailed medical history and examining Jane, I could only make one conclusion: Jane had gone into premature menopause.

When menopause occurs before the age of 40, it has come too early. Menopause usually occurs in the late 40s to early 50s. A diagnosis of menopause is arrived at if one has stopped having their period for a year or more without any known cause.

It is caused by changes in sex hormones in the body; a confirmation of the diagnosis requires laboratory testing. Jane’s hormone test confirmed that she was going through premature menopause. “So what does that mean? Am I not supposed to have sex anymore and I am only 35?” Jane asked anxiously.

END OF FERTILITY

Well, menopause simply implies end of fertility for a woman. Ovulation stops and the ovary fails to produce sex hormones. It does not to mark the end of one’s sexual life. The oldest woman known to have had orgasm was 114 years old. Nature ensures that sex is possible for years after menopause. In fact, most women live half of their lives in menopause and it would be insane to imagine that in their most relaxed years after they are done with the helter-skelter of childcare that they cannot enjoy this gift of nature.

Be that as it may, menopause does have some effects on sex. Desire may reduce or completely cease. Arousal may become difficult and most women fail to get lubrication. Sex may become painful. Achieving orgasm may become difficult. “But I thought you just said that sex should continue in menopause!” Jane exclaimed.

Sure, sex should continue – and in fact, it does. But it will not be the same as before menopause. Thankfully, all of the effects of menopause on sex are treatable, so the first course of action is to seek medical treatment.

Jane underwent a number of interventions to reverse her situation. She was put on hormone replacement therapy to revive her system. She was given a lubricant for use during sex since it takes time for the body to recover and produce natural lubricant. She also underwent counseling to be able to come to terms with her state. Menopause is a scary experience for most women and affects them psychologically.

Jane’s husband was also counseled. He needed to understand that this was not a problem of Jane’s making. He had to learn to support her for quick recovery. “Although ignorance is no defense, I hope my wife understands that I was ignorant of this situation and this caused my unwarranted reaction,” he explained. They managed to get their relationship back on track once the dragon of premature menopause had been slayed.