Many people share a common thought throughout their menopause journey: How will my sex life change? Unfortunately, not everyone feels comfortable discussing the intersection of menopause and sex — but it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle. By getting more comfortable talking about it, everyone gets more comfortable learning about it. That knowledge can help women gain confidence in the doctor’s office and in their intimate lives.
Gaining confidence in the sexuality department can also open doors to new treatment methods. This is where FUN FACTORY comes in: A sex-positive company on a mission to break barriers, they recently partnered with Momotaro Apotheca, a sexual wellness brand, to create a product campaign called “Menopausex.” The goal is to help menopausal people experience pleasure and reduce their symptoms.
“It started somewhat organically,” Kristen Tribby, sex educator and head of global marketing, tells FIRST. “We had been working with [sex positive] influencer Lou Featherstone … And we started talking a lot about how the sex industry does not focus, at all, on people with vaginas during this really important time.” If you’re interested in learning more about the intersection of menopause and pleasure, keep reading.
Does science back the theory that sex toys help manage menopause symptoms?
While more research needs to be done on the benefits of sex toys for menopause, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) says that a number of devices can help with certain symptoms. These symptoms include vaginal dryness, low libido, weak orgasms, irritation, and tightness. “Vibrators can increase blood flow to the genitals, and both dildos and vibrators can help you learn about your sexual response and show your partner what you like,” NAMS explains. “[These devices] can also be used to add spice and variety to the sex lives of couples whose main problem is boredom with their sexual routine. The same goes for other sex toys and erotic products.”
It’s clear that some of these benefits, like “spice and variety,” are universal, and not exclusive to menopausal women. Still, the NAMS makes important points: Increasing blood flow to the vaginal tissues promotes healthy sexual function, encouraging the vagina to lengthen and dilate as muscles relax. Relaxing those muscles is particularly helpful during menopause, since some menopausal women experience pain during penetration because the vaginal opening gets tight and irritated, and/or the muscles atrophy and lose elasticity. (This is due to lower estrogen levels, according to Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, OB/GYN and medical adviser for Kindra.) Regularly using a toy to promote blood flow and relaxation — and exercise those muscles — may therefore reduce penetrative pain during sex and pelvic exams. In addition, a sex toy can help reduce vaginal dryness (also due to low estrogen) by spurring internal glands to secrete moisture.
All that said, a person experiencing menopausal symptoms doesn’t need a sex toy like they would need medication. But using one has its perks. “These devices don’t require a prescription, are not very costly, and can be used with or without a partner,” NAMS reports. It’s worth noting that high-quality sex toys get expensive… but more on that later.
Which products does FUN FACTORY recommend?
FUN FACTORY and Momotaro Apotheca (the wellness brand) organized the menopause products by symptom. For vaginal dryness and/or loss of libido, for instance, they recommend a small self-thrusting vibrator called the Stronic Petite ($149) and a cooling balm called The Salve ($37). For weaker orgasms, they recommend a soft vibrator shaped like a mermaid tail called the Volta ($139). See the full list of recommendations here.
How did the brands select each product for menopause symptoms? Tribby says she collaborated closely with Lindsay Wynn, the founder of Momotaro, and two additional sex educators on her team. If customers don’t find the recommendations helpful, “they can always write into us and say, ‘hey, this is my specific story,'” she says. “We walk them through their options if they are interested in doing that.”
Now, there’s no getting around the price tags. Yet Tribby argues that FUN FACTORY delivers on quality. “The sex industry is unregulated,” she explains. “Dog toys have more regulations. And so, there are mystery materials in products … Since our factory is based out of Germany, it’s under the EU standards of health and safety. The silicone we use is guaranteed to be medical-grade silicone …We’ve been around for 25 years, and we are an ethically-made sex toy company. We’re known for a really long-lasting product.”
This isn’t to say that FUN FACTORY is your only option; other brands also make high-quality products that can be used to treat symptoms. (See our list of the 26 best toys for adults who’ve never used one before.) The real point is that sex toys are a great option for women who want to explore their sexuality at any age, and enjoy some health benefits along the way.
Why is it so important to introduce menopausal women to sex toys?
Creating sex toys for menopause is, in and of itself, a way of disproving myths and starting conversations. Take these myth-debunking facts, for example: In a FUN FACTORY survey on 1,000 women aged 40+, only one in five menopausal respondents (out of 1,000) noticed a drop in libido. And that percentage of women reported that they still want a happy and healthy sex life. Even more surprising: 40 percent of all respondents said their sex life improved as they approached or experienced menopause. Only 12 percent said it worsened.
Also, menopausal women and postmenopausal women were asked to name the top five positives of menopause. In order of highest to lowest rank, those were: no more periods, no more pregnancy scares, better sex, emotional maturity, and feeling more sexually adventurous.
Framing menopause as a transformation, rather than the end of something, promotes body positivity, healthy aging, and mental wellbeing — and it also helps people rediscover their sexuality and find solutions to their symptoms. Addressing menopause through the lens of sexual wellness helps spark honest discussions. And who knows? It may benefit a woman’s health for years to come.
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