SEX AND OLD AGE
THE MENOPAUSE AND SEXUALITY
The menopause happens when menstruation stops because of a reduction in oestrogen and progesterone and an increase in pituitary hormones. It occurs between 45-55 years old and it is preceded by a period of irregular menstruation. Physiological changes cause modifications to skin tone, the distribution of subcutaneous fat in the body, vaginal lubrication and, above all, tropism of the vaginal mucosa, minor osteoporosis and other general symptoms, like hot flushes and excessive perspiration. Psychological symptoms can also occur during this period of a woman’s life, such as increased irritability and depressed moods. Generally speaking, all of these symptoms can be compensated with the use of hormone replacement therapy, and this therapy has also proven useful for working against psychological and psychiatric symptoms. Various obstetrics and gynaecology departments often have menopause help centres which can provide appropriate answers for each unique case. However, many women consider this period to be a sign of the end of their sex life and sexual pleasure. It is as if they think I can no longer have children so I can no longer have sex or experience pleasure. In such cases the procreative ideology of sex takes over and causes serious problems in couples’ intimate lives. Instead, women should focus on the fact that, although menstruation and reproductive abilities have stopped, sexuality and all its characteristics and functions have not changed. In fact, given that contraception is no longer needed, sex could become a more exciting and freer activity.
The male menopause is not the same as the female menopause because, as it were, there is not a period in which physiological changes to a man’s procreation abilities occur, nor to his biological functioning, however, after turning 50, there is a reduction in the production of testosterone which can lower a man’s sex drive. Nonetheless, reproductive abilities stay the same even though a man’s sex drive gradually lowers and sex requires more time due to sexual excitement taking longer. Worrying about getting old can also play a negative role for men and this is sometimes dealt with by maintaining a sex life so as to keep mood changes and psychological aging out of their mind.