Sponsored by Pfizer, Inc.
Today we are diving into season three of menopause: unmuted, a podcast sponsored by Pfizer. These podcasts feature women discussing menopause and its impact on relationships, friends, family, and work. Season three features bonus episodes designed to provide a deeper dive into topics women are most interested in. Dr. Mary Jane Minkin hosts all the podcast episodes. Each bonus episode features a special guest discussing a specific aspect of menopause, including nutrition, strength training, mental health and stress reduction, and sex.
The focus of this article is on the episode, An Intimate Menopause with Dr. Laurie Mintz, discussing the subject of maintaining healthy sex and intimacy during perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause with Dr. Laurie Mintz. She is an author, therapist, professor, and speaker committed to helping people live more authentic, meaningful, joyful, and sexually satisfying lives. She has published over 50 research articles and six chapters in academic books, received numerous professional and teaching awards, and is the author of two books. Dr. Mintz has also maintained a small private practice for over 30 years.
In An Intimate Menopause, Doctors Minkin and Mintz offer education regarding how to navigate the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, conversation starters with your partner, and ways to increase your confidence. Dr. Mintz also addresses specific aspects and misconceptions regarding sex and menopause surrounding the topics of sexual dysfunction, desire, communication, and pleasure. She explores how women can reframe sex and intimacy in midlife and provides practical information that may help women enjoy sex during this time.
First, the Good
Menopause can bring about immense freedom (bye-bye, periods!). But before you celebrate, it is important to understand that pregnancy is still possible until you have been period-free for at least one full year. So contraception is still necessary if you want to prevent a later-in-life pregnancy. You also need to remember that sexually transmitted diseases have no expiration date.
Now, the Not-So-Good
Menopause, unfortunately, heralds some unwanted symptoms. As we approach menopause, estrogen production begins to decrease. By the time women reach the post-menopausal state, there has been a massive drop in estrogen production. The changes in estrogen levels can cause mood swings, difficulty with sleep, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can play a considerable role in the decreased feelings of arousal and desire women may experience.
On top of all this, vaginal dryness can cause intercourse to become painful. Generally speaking, no one wants to participate in something that causes pain. Take heart, though, because your healthcare provider can help if you let him/her know what you are experiencing. It is also important to tell your partner what you are experiencing. If you are like me, conversing about these topics and the others mentioned in this podcast is not exactly easy. Thankfully, Dr. Mintz offers some valuable and much-needed tips on approaching them with your significant other.
Keeping the Flame Alive
Dr. Mintz addresses how you can help build a great midlife sex life. She states, “…we know that for many menopausal women, sex gets better, and the people who are having magnificent sex said it often started at around age 50, when they were more comfortable with their own bodies, or they were not fearing pregnancy, they were more communicative and comfortable.”
So how do we get to the point of having a great sex life during these years? As with anything, we must build, and three essential building blocks, according to Dr. Mintz, include desire, comfort, and communication. This was a helpful and eye-opening topic of discussion for me because she explains the difference between spontaneous desire and responsive desire and how to stop feeling as if sex is a duty. Dr. Mintz suggests scheduling sex, stating, “What we have to do is understand that spontaneous sex is a myth.” She encourages responsive desire or the practice of being open to the idea of sex and allowing desire to build as intimacy builds.
Exploration Is Key
Women can use responsive desire and make it fun when they are not so focused on the goal of orgasm. An orgasm does not always have to be the goal of our intimate time. To help women feel comfortable exploring what is pleasurable for themselves and their partner, Dr. Mintz provides suggestions to help ease into conversations and situations to build confidence during intimate times. She also offers excellent information on incorporating mindful practices to enhance sexual pleasure and satisfaction.
Communication is a crucial component to improving your sex life. Still, Dr. Minkin notes that many women and their partners find it challenging to discuss sex. She says, “…talking well about sex and intimacy can positively impact our physical and emotional well-being, whether you’re single, in a long-term relationship, or returning to dating.”
I have to be honest—after many years of a satisfying sex life, I am not always comfortable discussing with my husband perimenopausal issues as they relate to sex and intimacy, despite knowing good communication is necessary. Listening to this episode gave me much-needed tips to improve my communication skills. Dr. Mintz urges women to become empowered in the bedroom because “Becoming empowered in the bedroom can help you feel empowered in other areas of your life.” Although it may take some time to feel confident discussing these issues, her suggestions continue to help me build my courage to approach those conversations more easily than before.
Don’t Forget Self Exploration
Dr. Mintz encourages women to explore masturbation and the use of vibrators. She describes how once you learn self-pleasure, you can transfer that knowledge into sex with your partner. Dr. Mintz also dismantles what is “normal” and reframes women’s anxieties about their peri- through post-menopausal bodies. This eased my mind as I learned many of my insecurities surrounding intimacy during this phase of life were, in fact, normal.
Thankfully, menopause does not have to mean the end of our sexuality. The information provided by Dr. Mintz can help us have a more fulfilling sex life during perimenopause and beyond. Dr. Mintz notes, “Women who are more satisfied in their sex life are more satisfied in terms of life in general.” After listening to this bonus episode of menopause: unmuted and putting some of her suggestions into practice, I completely agree with her statement.
Keep in mind that this is just one of the bonus episodes you can listen to for topics related to menopause. Check out our previous articles on A Nourishing Menopause and A Strong Menopause, and keep an eye out for future reviews of this podcast here, including our thoughts on:
Until then, you can listen to “An Intimate Menopause” by clicking on the image below and check out the other episodes of menopause: unmuted for help demystifying the experience of menopause.
For more information on Dr. Mintz, including links to her publications and practice, visit: https://www.drlauriemintz.com.