Wednesday bubble: sexuality during menopause – blurring the lines

Posted by on Jul 8, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 comments


This week’s Bubble comes to us care of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and a fascinating study in the journal Latino American Nursing Reviews. The report attempts to address the limitations imposed by solely examining physical aspects of sexuality during the menopause as opposed to the intimate and relational dimensions.  In others words, signs and symptoms of the climacteric (the period marking the transition from reproductive to non-reproductive status) that specifically relate to sexuality, such as vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, are less important than the sum of their parts.

In this study, which involved interviews with postmenopausal women between the ages of 48 and 55, the researchers confirm that sexuality involves more than biology and rather, encompasses a woman’s subjective experience with her partner, her world, her perceptions of her body, how she experiences pleasure and displeasure and her values and behavior. In fact, sexuality does not “end with hormonal deficiency” bur rather changes over time.

They ask: are we overvaluing the biological aspects of sexuality at the expense of the emotional expression of experience, cultural factors and how we relate to others?

Key findings:

  • It is critical to be present, open up to another being, allow oneself to be “permeated by co-existence” with our partners/lovers
  • We need to connect with our bodies, remove barriers to experiencing physical pleasure — both alone and in relation to another being
  • We need to be aware that we are affected by our sexual partners and their limitations, physical conditions, virility, etc
  • We must embrace the ‘feedback of pleasure,’ i.e. be willing and able to not only give pleasure but to receive it as well
  • Sexual satisfaction does not end (or begin) with orgasm

I have written previously on sex and sexual desire, often presenting the argument that the sum is greater than its parts, that it is time to understand and embrace the totality of the experience.

I admire these researchers for reaching outside the box and broadening the discussion about sexuality during menopause and midlife. Personally, I believe that within this new paradigm, we may finally be able to blur the lines between the biological, cultural, emotional and sociological to fully embrace that notion that menopause, and its accompanying issues, are not a “disease” to be reckoned with but rather, part of our “natural evolution” as women.

What do you think?


  1. 7-8-2009

    Wonderful post, Liz. Couldn’t agree more.

    • 7-8-2009

      Thanks Dave! Appreciate your comment.


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