Painful sex or making love post menopause?
Painful sex or making love post menopause?
Since my periods stopped several years ago, I have struggled with pain during intercourse with my husband, which I am not alone in, as it has been reported that between 25 – 45% of women experience painful sex post menopause. On a physical level, we are told that a decrease in estrogen in menopause causes a reduction in natural lubrication, which can result in more pain during sex. Although this may be a factor to be considered, not all menopausal women experience painful sex, which leads me to ponder why a significant number of women get this pain.
I have always enjoyed making love – or what I thought was making love – but I have learned there is a difference between making love and having sex. I can feel the difference in my body now; it tells me very loudly. Making love does not feel painful and I notice I do not check out, in other words, my thoughts are completely focussed on the sensations I feel in my body and my husband’s body and the closeness I feel with him. I also notice that I feel beautiful, sexy and desirable when we are making love. Sex on the other hand is just a physical act and there is no feeling of closeness or intimacy. The old saying, ‘lie back and think of England’ comes to mind!
I did not have an appreciation of this difference until after menopause. Now, whenever it is just having sex and not making love, I automatically close up, and then it is very painful. I put up with this without even thinking about how it was affecting my body and my relationship – I was allowing this to please my husband. Why do I dishonour my body this way, and why do I have a belief that I need to please him? Is it related to an old belief that women have a ‘duty’ to their husbands to perform in bed?
Now I totally adore and love my husband dearly, yet I can agree to having sex when he initiates it and I do not feel like it. Sometimes I am frightened of the pain that might be there, which means I can’t relax with him. Also, even after all our years together, there is an anxiety that I am not going to be ‘good enough’ at it, or I won’t have an orgasm. So it is no wonder my body hurts! When I don’t have this anxiety or fear I seldom get the pain.
Recently I have been pondering on whether it is how I have been living during the day that builds the tension in my body, so that I cannot surrender in bed at night. For example, I often try and fit too much in and so go into ‘drive’ to get it all done. Hence when I get home, I am too tired to make love, and so I don’t feel like it.
"Making love is an extension of how you are living with yourself and how that equal union is lived with your partner. Therefore, making love is always an act that confirms the love you already have as opposed to having sex which in-truth is an act that seeks love."Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, Vol I, Ed 1, p 695
So gradually over the years we have been having intercourse less and less, because I am fearful of the pain and he does not want to be the cause of that pain. I know he feels rejected when I tell him it hurts, and that he wants to continue – and sometimes I let him.
Nobody seems to be talking about this kind of thing despite the high number of postmenopausal women who experience pain during sex. The only person I know who has talked about it with me is my sister, who shared with me that she also felt pain during intercourse after menopause, and indeed ended her relationship in a large part because of this and has not entered into any other relationships since. I wonder if this is actually quite common amongst women following menopause. I completely understand it is a very sensitive subject to talk about, but it isn’t a small pain: it is a 9/10 pain. And, it is probably affecting many relationships. Yet we tend to brush it aside, carry on, just ignore it, just don’t have sex and it won’t be there…
Making love is a confirmation and celebration of the loving way you have been living with another.
I have come to understand that menopause is about honouring yourself as a woman, and that if you are not honouring yourself, your body will show you very clearly.
Clearly, putting up with pain during intercourse is not honouring my body, so what could I do or say?
In the past I have not been as open and honest with my husband as I could be because I have not wanted to show my vulnerability (my way of being in the world was to be ‘strong and independent’) – indeed, I saw that as weakness. So I have built a wall of protection around me. I know now that, without this transparency in my relationship with my husband, I cannot be intimate with him in the true sense of intimacy.
What if, when my husband initiated lovemaking and I didn’t want to, I was to ask myself why I didn’t feel like making love? If it was because I was truly feeling exhausted and was honouring my body, then maybe I could share that with my husband so he did not feel rejected. I could also work on not living my day so that I am exhausted and drained in the evening.
If it was because I was feeling tense and anxious, anticipating pain, then what if I was to honour that and share it with my husband? If I did, we could work out ways together to support me to let go of the anxiety, for example by being playful with each other or deciding just to hold each other for a while.
If it was because I was not feeling good about myself – a common reason for me would be because I felt ‘fat’ or unattractive – then maybe it would be possible for me to tell him that and change that perception. After all, I know my husband loves my body and never sees me as fat.
So why do I have these thoughts, especially when I know I have experienced times when I have felt beautiful and sexy?
For example, the other day I was wearing a new swimsuit and I felt really sexy in it. When my husband walked by, I said to him, “these are sexy aren’t they?” – and his eyes lit up. We made love that night!
I also now understand that behind my resistance to making love is an old belief that women shouldn’t enjoy sex or accept pleasure and that, if we do, we are acting like a whore. I know I used to feel guilty sometimes that I enjoyed it so much. There seems to be this concept that sex is ‘dirty’ and something women have to put up with in a relationship. So, the key for me is to let go these beliefs that are not me and do not serve me, my husband or our relationship, and to feel how naturally beautiful and sexy I am… and to really claim that with my husband, and for myself.
How love really works
True love is a livingness and a way of being with ourselves. All we need to do is to let our guard down and we are love and then everything we do is from love.
What if we were to discuss topics like painful sex and anything we feel uncomfortable about with our partners; be more open and real in our relationships? What if we were to live every day in a way where we are so close, real and honest with each other that nothing is hidden? This would build a foundation of transparency and closeness, such that we would make love in the real sense of making love – where we would feel a deeper connection and intimacy between the two of us, which after all is deep down what we all crave.
Now, that would be making love!
"Making love is a confirmation and celebration of the loving way you have been living with another"Serge Benhayon February 2013 The Way of The Livingness 1