Do women get hornier after menopause

Menopause: Interview with the sexologist Ann-Marlene Henning

Menopausal women are equated with dried fruit. "Wrong," says the Danish couple and sex therapist Ann-Marlene Henning, "menopausal women are often more keen on sex than ever before."

annabelle:Ann-Marlene Henning, let's first clarify the terms: menopause, menopause - what are we talking about exactly?
Ann-Marlene Henning: The terms are used incorrectly or confused with one another. I have to admit that they slip out wrong again and again. So, when we talk about the time when everything goes up and down and becomes problematic, we mean the transition period, the menopause. The term menopause, on the other hand, is only used when there is rest again.

That means when it's all over?
When the unrest is over. That it should all be over by then is a much-invoked cliché. Because nothing is over. On the contrary: life starts all over again with the menopause.

Would you then have to rename menopause to Menostart?
Good idea! I already call the transition from menopause to menopause the second puberty. You can at least imagine something under that. Because puberty says that everything is confusing and new, you don't know where it's going. But puberty is also fun and new feelings arise. That's why I prefer to see menopause as a preliminary step to a new phase in life, in which women often become more uncompromising, more spiritual and more self-confident. Suddenly everything is much easier.

That's good news. Why is everything so much easier?
Every woman knows the power of hormones. The estrogen also influences the way we see the world: We take care of others, we always want to talk and have a balancing effect. Testosterone, on the other hand, stands for strength, struggle, sexuality and lust. Both sexes have both hormones, except that women have more estrogen than testosterone and men have more testosterone than estrogen. During menopause, estrogen levels drop, but testosterone continues to be produced in the ovaries and adrenal gland. There are women who are more aware of testosterone now. You often feel this in the fact that you are finally thinking of yourself more and not so much of others.

Becoming more selfish is wonderful if it weren't for the whiskers, which are beginning to grow because of the dwindling estrogen.
Yes indeed! Single black stubble that pokes you when you run your hand over your chin. When I discovered it, I thought: What is that? Since then I've been pulling out a witch's hair with tweezers every now and then. It is said that androgyny occurs during menopause, that the sexes converge. When I told this to a couple who was in my practice, the woman said to her husband: "Oh, all right: you will have breasts now, and I will become a hairy woman." She grinned, but he didn't.

Getting women to speak publicly about their menopausal experiences seems almost impossible. Why?
Because it's a social taboo. There are still a few of them, but menopause is a huge one. Because it is directly linked to this you-are-now-dried fruit. That is firmly in the minds of women. Let me tell you an anecdote: I have a very intelligent girlfriend who is a doctor. She is 54. One day she said to me: “I have to ask you something: I'm having such great sex right now. I have a lover and I often do it myself, and I always wait to see when it will stop, when this time begins, when I can no longer do it. " And I said: "I beg your pardon?" "Yes," she said, "then you will get dry after all!" This drying up is the problem.

Because dry does not mean damp with excitement, parched, sexually no longer attractive.
Exactly, that's what menopausal women are associated with. And there is something else: These women are still considered bitchy and imbalanced.

Let's better say: hysterical. Those are the two words: hysterical and dry.

So what's the deal with menopause dryness? Many women feel pain during sexual intercourse, and their clitoris should also be less sensitive. It takes them longer to reach orgasm. Is this actually related to menopause and menopause?
Yes and no. It is now just finally noticeable when a woman is not or not sufficiently aroused during sex. Of course, the basic moisture level in the vagina is reduced due to the decrease in estrogen, and the mucous membranes become more porous. If something rubs back and forth, it can hurt. It helps if there is a nice lubrication, i.e. moisture that is created by excitement. And 80- as well as 20-year-olds always get this moisture when they are excited. This moisture, also called sweaty vaginal walls, is the result of good blood circulation. However, it is not just there immediately, but rather starts further back, towards the uterus. Imagine the vagina is a tube that runs up to the uterus. Up there, the moisture sets in first. If you have sexual intercourse too early, for example because you want to do the man a favor or you think you are aroused, or because you don't want to admit that you are not aroused, the moisture may not be enough - and then it hurts. And next time you tense up and it hurts again.

The much-invoked dryness has less to do with hormonal changes than with blood flow, i.e. with the degree of sexual arousal. Is it therefore necessary to rethink one's own sexuality?
That's the point. Because the fact is that a woman is usually aroused incredibly quickly. She is aroused much faster than the man. Laboratory tests have shown, for example, that she is sometimes already excited when she sees monkeys copulating in a film.

But what influence does menopause have on sexual pleasure per se?
There is a lot of discussion about this. It is very difficult to even measure female pleasure. There are many women who feel their lust intensified. On the other hand, there are those who don't feel anything. When I have women in the practice who say that they don't feel like it, the first thing to do is to find out whether that's true. I then sort out those who say: "Well, I feel like it, but not the sex I have, or not the man." With the group of women who don't feel anything, you have to go ahead and research. And lo and behold: when these women go home with the task of «feel down», they come back and say: «Oh, I felt something!» The decisive factor is: Those who have always had sex and have always felt, also have sex in old age. But even those who don't feel anything at first can learn to feel. It follows that sexual listlessness is in the vast majority of cases something that has been trained. So freely based on the credo: "We shouldn't look, feel and taste."

Doesn't this tend to affect women from older generations?
Yes. The women who went through menopause to date were raised by those women who believed that masturbation caused glaucoma and other diseases. It's only been two generations since sex and indulgence were almost illegal for women. They were brought up in the sense of: “Be happy when menopause comes because then it is over. Then you no longer have to do the one thing men always want to do. " Now come the baby boomers, the new generation of women who no longer tolerate having sex taken away from them. There are suddenly new studies, new books and films on the subject, and what is the fact now? The women are cool!

Many women are rediscovering their sexuality at the age of fifty. Why is that?
After all these years with a husband, child and dog, many have time again. In addition, today we are healthier, have more money and do sports. Not only do we look younger and healthier, but we also feel hot and sexy.

Menopause is even more of a mystery: some women suffer from severe symptoms such as insomnia and hot flashes, others do not feel the hormonal changes at all. Are these effects genetic?
This is also being discussed scientifically. There is now research that suggests this. However, several recent studies indicate that those women have more problems during menopause who have been eating into themselves for years and have not dealt with it. The psychic corpses in the basement are now pushing to the surface, so to speak. It's like pushing the lid away from the pressure cooker. Still other research shows that working women have fewer problems. They are so busy that they hardly notice the menopause.

Isn't it risky to psychologize the symptoms? It means that women are to blame when they have hot flashes.
Nice question! It is not the symptoms that are psychologized, but the pressure felt, the pressure of suffering. Such feelings are always individual. And yes, if a woman suffers too much from her symptoms, there can be several reasons. However, I see the thesis you questioned confirmed in my practice, so that I always try to lift the lid through conversations in order to finally remove it. Women who are particularly hard hit often lead a life in which they hardly have the feeling of being able to be who they really are; they allow themselves to be dominated by their partner or have never lived their wishes and dreams. Here it is more useful to finally admit the relevant things and then make lasting changes.

Still, what is your advice to a woman with severe symptoms?
She may want to consider hormone replacement. In my experience, however, most women don't need hormones at all. If you really have problems, for example suffer from severe dry mucous membranes, you can apply local ointments. You can also achieve a lot with herbal remedies - but above all by finally taking care of yourself.

Let's talk about what is perhaps the greatest of all social taboos: the menopause of men, the andropause. Does testosterone decrease in men like estrogen in women?
Yes, but that already goes down after the high point in puberty. At 16 it shoots in and then stays high for about a year or two, then it falls right away. Slowly and over the years.

Is testosterone falling in a constant linear fashion?
Yes, the testosterone in men generally falls in a more linear manner compared to the hormones in women, which first constantly move up and down every month and then fall more drastically during the menopause.

What symptoms torment men during menopause?
Hot flashes, restless legs, sleepless nights, erectile dysfunction, identity crises, moods like these: I'm in a vacuum. I don't know how it will go on. My life is over. These symptoms begin in their mid-forties, as in women; at 10 to 15 percent they start sooner or later, sometimes not until their mid-sixties. The majority of men notice erection instability in their fifties. But even here it does not mean that it is all over now.

So if a man takes a young lover and also buys a motorcycle, then he is in andropause.
Yes, probably. He's fighting for his erection. He then acts as if he was ridden by the devil.

Older man, young lover - that doesn't really work, does it?
In the beginning, because his reptilian brain is awake: The beloved is new, young, her body looks crisp, he can get excited better and faster. If after a year or two he is no longer in love, he will have the same problems again. He cannot avoid taking care of his penis and the basic arousal. Erectile dysfunction is often based on cramps - similar to dryness in women - if a man gets scared with erectile problems, then he tenses the pelvic floor, in which the penis hangs one third, and thus prevents the pelvic floor from getting a proper blood supply, which causes it to be the problem, in turn, exacerbates. He has to learn to feel his body better, to excite himself more slowly and sustainably and to be in good contact with his partner. Experts call this slow sex or soul sex. At this age, men can do this better because their testosterone drops and their estrogen is more effective.

But that requires that the man also knows this.
Exactly that he does not suffer from depression and is taking psychotropic drugs because the doctor does not know that there is an andropause. Many doctors prescribe psychotropic drugs too quickly, depending on how depressed the patient appears, and - Viagra.

Does the theory of corpses in the basement also apply to men? I haven't seen any research on this yet, but I would think that such a connection exists. Anyone who generally does not take care of their "corpses" builds up something inside, at some point the pressure rises and suddenly the man has burnout, a heart attack, erectile dysfunction, or he is cheating. Menopause is simply a fragile period for both sexes, and it then appears to be almost impossible to keep the lid on.

The book on the subject
Ann-Marlene Henning & Anika von Keizer: Make More Love. An educational book for adults. Rogner & Bernhard publishing house, 352 pages, CHF 28.80,