A Conversation About Menopause and Sex
Our friends over at Maude were gracious enough to host a virtual conversation with the dream team — Dr. Somi Javaid, HerMD Founder, and Komel Caruso, HerMD Chief Growth Officer. The seminar touched on all thing sexual health, menopause and the best Maude products to satisfy both.
Read below to discover highlights from the webinar.
Her MD-approved Maude products
Komel’s favorite products are vibe and shine. Dr. Javaid loves burn for many reasons — like the fact that it’s an undercover lubricant — but she mainly enjoys the scent; to the chagrin of her kids who are aware of its intended purpose.
You are not too old for sex
Dr. Javaid passionately declares “I’m 47. We are not too old…Why do people think that if you’re perimenopausal or menopausal you are not too old to have sex. That’s crazy!” Komel agrees and adds, “You can live for decades after menopause. To give up good sex, to give up your relationship, your intimacy with your partner or partners is absolutely crazy.”
Having sex is healthy
As if some of us needed an excuse to have sex, Dr. Javaid reminds those attending the conversation that sex is good for your pelvic floor, lowers your resting heart rate and strengthens your relationship with your partner(s). “Studies show that both men and women that are sexually active have more self confidence and more self esteem. So your relationships in the bedroom affect you outside of the bedroom. When we talk about sexual health it truly is a litmus test to what else is going on in your life.”
The types of hormonal shifts you can expect to see during perimenopause and menopause. (AKA: When your accordion becomes a tube sock)
Menopause symptoms affect you head to toe: brain fog, insomnia, hot flashes, vaginal dryness incontinence, decreased libido and pain during sex. Dr. Javaid explains, “…testosterone — yes women make testosterone; it’s produced in our ovaries. Testosterone supports our sexuality. We have evidence that testosterone supports all the domains of sexualities…the objective measures of sex that sexual health providers have: desire, pain, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction. These are all the things we talk about with patients. Estrogen helps us with moisture, brain function, sleep, and hot flashes. As we start to go into perimenopause, the years around menopause and then menopause, these hormonal levels are declining.” Dr. Javaid breaks it down even further with a staggering metaphor, “our vaginas are shaped like an accordion and they have these deep folds called rugae. [Which is how] we can stretch and accommodate our partners or toys. As we go into menopause, we develop something called genitourinary syndrome of menopause. So that tissue becomes thinner. We lose those folds and become more of a tube sock.” This is what leads to painful sex.
The difference between not being in the mood and low libido
Not being in the mood is completely normal and happens to everyone, even Dr. Javaid. When it becomes a matter of low-libido, she says she checks for when “it’s been persistent for six or more months where you have absolutely no desire or sexual thoughts, [the act of sex] is bothersome to you, and it’s not directly related to a medication or a life condition.”
The sex organ you might be ignoring
It’s fair to consider the clitoris as one of the wonders of the world but your brain and its neurotransmitters directly impact how much and how often you want to have sex. If you think you might be struggling with low desire, there’s hope. Dr. Javaid mentions, “two FDA-approved medications that work on neurochemistry and what I love about them is they are non-hormonal. They are okay for women who have been through cancer. They’re okay if you’ve had blood clots or heart attacks or strokes.” One of the medications, Addyi (affectionately referred to as The Pink Pill) has been shown to make a significant difference. Patients have noted more satisfying sex, increased desire and, Dr. Javaid’s favorite, decreased distress associated with their sex life. Dr. Javaid recognizes these medications aren’t a cure all, “I’m not saying it’s Love Potion No.9 but I’m here to tell you we’ve treated thousands and thousands of patients and we’ve had immense outcomes. We’ve made a real difference for women.”
Help doesn’t necessarily require a prescription
Before diving into the deep end of menopause solutions like hormone therapy, you’re provider may suggest a more off-label approach to increase sex drive. One of Dr. Javaid’s recommendation is, “Dr. Lyndsey Harper — we love her — she has an app called Rosy [which] is story erotica. She has data to prove that reading the stories can actually increase desire.” She adds, “bringing in something tangible like a sex toy or a candle makes the conversation with your partner surrounding your low libido easier. The candle is an innocent way for people who don’t normally buy these types of things regularly to promote intimacy.”
There’s power in numbers
“Too many times women are forgotten in the equation,” Dr. Javaid proclaims. Through education, empowerment and advocacy, companies like Maude and HerMD work to destigmatize the shame around menopause and sexual health. As do you, by reading this article and talking about formerly taboo topics with family, friends and partners.
There is one last thing Dr. Javaid reminds everyone of at the seminar: once you’re on the other side of menopause it doesn’t mean you stop your Gyno visits. “Regardless of post-hysterectomy or post-menopause, you still need to come in once a year.” says Dr. Javaid. You and your health matter at every age and stage.