I'm nearly 50 and having great sex

Will menopause ruin everything?

By Cary Tennis

Published September 19, 2003 7:00PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I'm a woman almost 50. I have a fabulous sex life with my lover of five years. I am concerned about approaching menopause and losing the ability to have almost push-button orgasms with him. I am afraid that it may have a negative impact on my pleasure, and even more worried that his ego will feel threatened -- as he is justifiably proud of his abilities! I would really rather not discuss it with him if it doesn't become necessary, since he is completely content and convinced that we will continue in sexual nirvana forever.

But I have female friends who confide they have completely lost interest in sex around my age. So my question at the moment is this -- does Viagel (or any other product) really work? And if it does, will he notice if I use it surreptitiously? I mean, will he be able to feel it himself, if I apply it before sex?


Dear Worried,

Congratulations on your fabulous sex life. I'll bet your penchant for thinking ahead has played a part in it. You're certainly thinking ahead now. If we wanted, we could stop right there. I could just say quit your worrying and cross that bridge when you come to it. But I have a better idea:

Why not go ahead and try that stuff now, before you reach menopause? It's supposed to feel good regardless of whether you actually need it or not. It's got menthol in it, which tingles, and it's got L-arginine, an amino acid that's supposed to increase circulation. If you like it, you can keep on using it, or just use it occasionally. And then later -- who knows when; you're close to the average age for menopause, but it could come much later -- if menopause makes you dry and you really need it, it won't be any big deal for your lover, and you won't have to have a big scary conversation. If you're relaxed about it now, he probably will be too.

As to whether he'll know you're using it, I figure if it gets on you, and then he gets on you, it's going to get on him. But so what? It tingles. Who doesn't like stuff that tingles?

I looked on the Sexual Health Channel site, which takes a sensible and educated approach to the matter. It says that if you have a medical condition that decreases blood flow to the vagina, then naturally you would want to address that condition. "However," it says, "some women who are not diagnosed with underlying medical conditions have found that nonprescription topical solutions, like Viacreme or Viagel, increase sensitivity and assist in achieving orgasm." I should note that it goes on to say, "More research is needed to assess the possible effects and complications of topical creams. At this time, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved them."

Lack of sexual desire is a different subject. If your friends are telling you they've lost interest in sex after menopause, well, that's your friends. That's not you. It's also not now. It's hypothetical in the future.

That's not to say you're not smart for thinking about it. But you'll only be able to deal with a loss of sexual desire if and when it happens. There are lots of ways to deal with it. So my advice would be to get some of that stuff, try it out, and otherwise just keep doing what you've been doing until something changes. It's apparently worked pretty well so far.

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Cary Tennis

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