Leah Millheiser, MD7/12/17
When was the last time you took a vacation? Yes, a vacation! Remember those? When you had time to read and swim, maybe take in a little sun, explore, have long dinners with a few too many glasses of wine...
How did you feel? Relaxed? Thought so!
It's interesting to notice how much our desire increases when we are on vacation. Be it the salty air or a crackling wood fire or the fact you actually have time to sit down and enjoy some breathing room, holidays are a great indicator that it is possible to feel that way.
And then we come home to our regular lives.
When I was a teenager, I used to babysit my cousins so my aunt and uncle could go out and have sex in the back of their minivan. I remember hanging out with my aunt while she prepared for one such outing. She lined the van’s backend with blankets and spritzed it with Calvin Klein’s Obsession. She raised one eyebrow at me and said, “Don’t tell your mom this is what we do when you babysit.”
“Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me.” That old Salt-n-Pepa song is probably not the tune stuck in your head when you’re going through menopause. And for good reason. Your body is going through a lot of hormonal changes—specifically a dip in estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is the main female hormone and when it’s at a normal level, it helps to lubricate the walls of your vagina.
I have gone through several sexual dry spells in my lifetime. During these times, I was so uninterested in having sex that my partner would get worried and even slightly offended. And I was, too. Offended at my own body, that is. I mean, I love my partner and find him attractive so why did sex of any kind feel like a no-go? I didn’t even want to try to be turned on, if I’m being honest. My mind was elsewhere and my body just wanted to be left alone.
I’ve gained a reputation as a menopause expert among my friends, and I get this question more than any other. It makes sense. When you’re in the throes of a hot flash or inexplicable crying jag, who cares why this is happening—when’s it going to end? Unfortunately, as with many things pertaining to women’s bodies (hi, pregnancy), the length and symptoms of menopause vary a lot. Some aspects, such as age of onset, can even be hereditary.