5 Reasons You Can’t Orgasm After Menopause—And What to Do About It

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If you’re a Sex and the City fan, you might remember the episode in which Samantha, played by Kim Cattrall, is distressed because she’s having trouble reaching a climax in bed. “I lost my orgasm!” she cries to her friends in the backseat of a taxi. “In the cab?” Carrie replies, witty as ever.

It was funny, sure—but when it happens to you, it’s no laughing matter. And as women approach menopause, the problem becomes increasingly common.

“As women transition through menopause, various bodily changes occur that could make it more difficult to orgasm,” explains Shamyra Howard, a sexologist with Lovehoney. She and Shoma Datta-Thomas, MD, the Chief Wellness Officer at Modern Age, shared their go-to orgasm tips for post-menopausal women (and really anyone with a vagina and clitoris, regardless of age) with Best Life.

“It can become increasingly more challenging to reach orgasm [as you get older], but it is still possible,” Howard says. Read on to find out how you can boost your satisfaction between the sheets.

READ THIS NEXT: If You Take This Common Medication, It Could Be Ruining Your Sex Life, Doctors Say.

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It may seem obvious, but if you’re not feeling it, then you’re less likely to, well, feel it when you’re with with a parter (or trying to have some fun alone!). “During menopause, some women report having a decreased desire for sexual intimacy,” says Howard. A lack of desire results in “reduced blood flow to the clitoris, which can make arousal difficult,” she explains. “And if a woman is not aroused, she is less likely to orgasm.”

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If this is the case for you, rest assured that you’re in good company. “Studies show that menopausal and postmenopausal women experience decreases in libido and orgasm,” says Datta-Thomas. “It is perfectly normal for your intimate life to change after menopause.”

“Other factors contributing to women’s inability to orgasm include stress, depression, anxiety, physical illness, and feeling disconnected from a partner,” notes Howard. “Some women feel inadequate when they cannot orgasm, and will decline to have sex. This specific inability to orgasm is called secondary anorgasmia, which is the inability to orgasm after being able to orgasm previously.”

female pleasure during sex
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This is likely not news to anyone with a vulva, but for many of us, traditional penis-in-vagina intercourse doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to coming. “Sex is often orgasm- and penis-focused, which contributes to the lack of sexual pleasure for women,” Howard says. “Due to penetration-focused sex, many women will never orgasm. A 2017 study reports that over 80 percent of women cannot orgasm during penetration alone.”

Focusing attention on a different part of your anatomy is the fix, she says—and using a sex toy can help. “More than 80 percent of women need direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm, with and without a partner,” Howard explains. “A sex toy is essential for direct clitoral stimulation. The Lovehoney Rechargeable Silicone Wand Vibrator, or the Lovehoney Magic Bullet can help to stimulate the clitoris.”

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Ways to Make Sex Less Painful, According to a Sex Therapist.

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Another perhaps-obvious, yet often not-talked-about, reason for a disappearing orgasm is pain. “Without treatment, 17 to 45 percent of all menopausal women complain of painful sex,” says Datta-Thomas.

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While many different things may be at the root of painful sex, the hormonal changes that come along with menopause are a common culprit for those experiencing the transition. “When women experience perimenopause and menopause, they often have a decrease in estrogen levels, which can diminish blood flow and affect the response of nerves in your vagina and clitoris,” Datta-Thomas explains. “This can lead to decreased sensitivity and lubrication. Up to 45 percent of women deal with dryness or a lack of sensation, which can lead to pain during sex or overall discomfort.”

close up of bottle of personal lubricant spilling out
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Since menopause can cause decreased vaginal lubrication, it makes sense that adding lube—or more lube—to your routine can help you reach climax. “Lube is non-negotiable, especially during menopause,” says Howard. “As your hormones change, estrogen levels decrease, which can make sex uncomfortable.” She recommends using a water-based lubricant to increase pleasure during sex, whether you’re alone or with a partner.

And Datta-Thomas says there’s another option to consider, as well: “Intravaginal radiofrequency is a safe, non-invasive treatment for those experiencing a noticeable shift in sexual sensation,” she says. “Radiofrequency energy helps increase collagen and blood circulation, which works to improve vaginal support, sensitivity, and lubrication for more pleasurable sex. If you have trouble reaching orgasm, it’s important to raise it with a doctor you trust to get a better understanding of proper treatment plans.”

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You don’t need a partner to have sex—or to have an orgasm. In fact, if you want to come, a partner might get in the way. “Women are most likely to orgasm alone during masturbation than they are with a partner,” says Howard. “One of the most significant U.S. studies conducted reported that heterosexual women in relationships only orgasm 65 percent of the time with their partner. This is essential for those transitioning through menopause to keep in mind throughout their sexual exploration.”

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However you’re having sex, it’s important to keep an open mind and be patient with yourself, she says. “Menopause is a journey, and it needs to be treated as such. Talk to your body and become acquainted with it at each stage. Explore different methods of arousal. For example, read erotica, listen to audio erotica, and fantasize. This helps with arousal, which contributes to sexual satisfaction and increases orgasm potential.”

“It’s important to remember that sex, intimacy, and connection continue to be central to lifestyle and happiness through natural aging,” Datta-Thomas adds. “Despite stereotypes, many people continue to be sexually active throughout their lives, while others may feel fulfilled in other ways.”