Sex during menopause is better than ever, admits content creator Maria Tumolo, 47, in this, the third in our menopause series in conjunction with TENA. She also discusses why no woman should feel invisible and why it’s so important to own our womanhood
This article is in partnership with TENA.
Society places a lot of stereotypes on women in menopause. Like the idea you’re constantly fanning yourself and drenched in sweat. You’re a ‘crazy lady’ with out-of-control mood swings. You’re just dried up. Past it. Put out to pasture. These are simply not true. I often discuss this with my friends who, like me, are of Caribbean background. There’s an assumption that once you hit menopause, you’re not sexually appealing anymore and you no longer enjoy sex. That’s probably because, when you reach menopausal age – usually in your mid 40s or early 50s – society tells you you’re invisible. So, our mothers and grandmothers may not have tried to make themselves look or feel sexy, because ‘sexy’ was no longer in their vocabulary.
But, to me, this phase of life means freedom, especially when it comes to intimacy. This is where my generation will be different. We’ll be the ones to change the narrative of what it means to be menopausal. I don’t have to think about my cycle, and my husband Fabrizio and I don’t have to worry about any ‘little surprises’! Our kids are still young – our son, Angelo, is 10 and our daughter, Valentina, is 8 – so not having that ‘worry’ definitely adds freedom to our sex life. It’s liberating. I can do whatever I want, when I want.
Most importantly, though, sex is better than ever. Sure, Fabrizio and I have been married for 15 years and know what each other likes by now, but in menopause, my relationship with my body is at its strongest. In my 20s and 30s, confidence was a struggle – I was always in the gym and calorie counting. But now, I appreciate my body, and I listen to it. I’m more at peace with what I see in the mirror. I can’t speak for all women, but I do think this stage of life helps you learn to love yourself in ways you never have before.
However, menopause does put your body through big changes that can be difficult to navigate. When I started having hot sweats in my early 40s (and I mean waking up drenched in the night), my doctor confirmed that I was peri-menopausal. Coupled with drier skin and thinner hair – as well as my ‘invisible’ symptoms such as forgetfulness, anxiety and fatigue – to say that menopause hasn’t sometimes felt like a loss of my femininity would be a lie.
I’d advise other menopausal women struggling to feel sexy to check in with their body. Sometimes, we get so caught up in life that we often overlook symptoms; we think ‘I don’t have time for this’. But knowledge is power. Re-acquaint yourself with your body – look at it in the mirror, listen to what it’s telling you, then research ways on how to enrich your life, such as vitamin and exercise recommendations. Looking after our bodies boosts our confidence, and confidence goes hand-in-hand with sexuality.
Sex is important not just for the physical release, but for the mental one, too. As humans, we need and crave physical contact and intimacy. You feel bonded, reassured and confident. You feel loved. The idea that that suddenly stops at menopause is ridiculous.
That’s why it’s important to talk about menopause, especially in the Black community, where those cultural mores can muffle our voices. Because Black women don’t talk about it, they’re not only more inclined to believe that they’re simply ‘past it’, but they don’t speak up and ask for the care available to help manage their symptoms.
Society should be telling menopausal women ‘You are not invisible. Do not hide yourself. Own your womanhood!’ This is something (most) women go through, if we’re lucky to live long enough. There’s no point in trying to shy away from it. Celebrate it and celebrate your body – because menopause doesn’t stop you from enjoying all that there is to being a woman.
For when you need a little help
As Maria says, it’s important to face into menopause – the changes are inevitable. Of course, for some women, the symptoms (which can include hot flushes, aches, pains and incontinence, to name a few) can be difficult to navigate, so educate yourself: knowledge is power. And there’s no shame in asking for help – whether that’s from loved ones or your GP – or investing in products that’ll make life easier, such as TENA Silhouette Noir High Waist Underwear, available in a range of sizes, other colours and also in a low-waist style, to suit your needs. These discreet but stylish pants look and feel like real underwear; in fact, 91% of women would recommend them. Plus, the UK’s No.1 female incontinence underwear brand* gives outstanding security, with triple protection from leaks, odour and moisture, and are designed to stay in place. They’re also invisible under clothing, so you can wear everything from your most figure-hugging LBD to your favourite pair of jeans, confident that the only thing taking centre stage will be you.
To read all the inspiring Menopause Monologues in the series so far, view the related articles below.
*Source: IRI HBA Outlets, Bladder Weakness Category, Value, 52 weeks to 17 April 2021, Total IRI Household UK; for verification, email firstname.lastname@example.org.