Sexuality in the Menopausal Years

Book image

Menopause: A Guide For Women & Those Who Love Them. Copyright ©1992 Norton (431 pp.)

Winnifred B. Cutler, Ph.D.

An excerpt for all women on Sexuality and the Menopausal Years from the book by Winnifred Cutler, Ph.D. Menopause: A Guide For Women & Those Who Love Them

Sexuality in the Menopausal Years... Stories from menopausal women.

“ I personally have had a satisfying relationship with my husband. He is very much in love with me and requires a lot of sexual attention… I think because of all this affection, I am a very contented female. His appetite hasn't changed at all, but he has become more tolerant of my disinterest many nights. I enjoy sex, find it more of an effort to reach orgasm, but can if I put my mind to it. I have many activities and work every day, and constant worries about my 2 grown daughters (one who has been very ill) that drain my efforts to concentrate more on bedtime romance…I am 51.”

“I obtain less satisfaction from sex and find myself making more excuses to not have sex. I am 51 years old.”


The complexity of human sexuality and the diversity of human sexual experience are clearly evident in the comments of different menopausal women.

If you are fortunate enough to have a partner you value, sex can be one of the most pleasurable experiences that life has to offer. There is comfort in being held and caressed. Erotic pleasure takes many forms unique to each individual. At every age, it can be wonderful. But since our society tends to be youth-oriented, it is easy to get the idea that sex is only for the young. Then, too, many people equate sex with reproduction and believe that the end of a woman's reproductive years brings a decline of sexual desire and pleasure. While these notions are by no means universally true, it is natural enough for you to wonder about your own sexuality during menopause. Is there a difference in sexual appetite? How does the change of life affect your capacity for sexual pleasure?

These are not easy questions to answer because a person's sexual feelings are related to many different things. A sense of health, well-being, and vigor can make you feel sexy. You will probably feel less so if you are flushing, tired, or depressed. What is your attitude toward sex - generally positive or more negative? Have your past sexual experiences been good ones or bad ones? Sexual feelings can be intensified by the presence of an interesting partner and by your partner's interest in you. Each couple forms its own world, and these deeply personal and private experiences cannot be fully studies in the same way that hormones or bone mass can.

Masters and Johnson, pioneers in the study of the physiology of sexual response, and others have contributed enormously to our understanding of sexuality. They have shown how the nervous system activates muscular response as well as other physiological responses during sex. But no one has been able to examine adequately the range of individual experience that occurs within the private domain of a man-woman relationship.