Q.My ovaries were taken before menopause and I haven’t had any desire for intimacy since. My spouse still has desire. What’s the solution?
Dr. Melanie Davis says: When ovaries are removed or stop producing estrogen, as they do during menopause (natural or medically induced), many women report a decrease in both sexual desire and comfort. Genital and vaginal tissues become dryer and less responsive to touch, and it may take longer to become aroused. When sex doesn’t feel good, you’re less likely to look forward to it. The good news is that most of these physical issues can be addressed through longer sex play, the use of personal lubricant, and in some cases, topical estrogen.
Desire is largely emotional, though. Stress, depression, insufficient sleep, poor body image, and cultural attitudes may lead women to believe they’re no longer desireable after menopause. Solutions vary from woman to woman, but let’s focus on two words in your question: desire and intimacy. I suspect that you’re referring to a lack of interest (desire) in sexual intercourse (intimacy). Suppose you reframed intimacy to include a broader range of activities? Would you be interested in intimacy if it meant cuddling, kissing, or massage without any expectation of intercourse? If clitoral stimulation or vaginal penetration don’t interest you, would you enjoy giving your spouse pleasure through genital stimulation (with your hands or mouth) without similar attention paid to you? If so, you might exchange pleasuring your partner while in return, you are treated to a massage or cuddle session.
I recommend that you and your spouse talk about what intimacy means to each of you. Come up with a list of things that make you feel close to each other, physically and emotionally. Sexual intimacy needn’t be today what it was in earlier years. You have the freedom to define and express it in any way that brings pleasure and meaning into your relationship. If you need help thinking this through, a sexuality educator or a sex therapist can help.