Monthly Archives: February 2020

How Menopause Impacts Your Sex Life

For years, I’ve planned to tackle the issue of menopause.

But I’ve chickened out. Who was I talk about menopause when I hadn’t been through it? When there were so many resources out there on the topic? When others had dealt with the issue better than I expected I could?

Mind you, not experiencing something personally hasn’t stopped me from thoroughly researching and writing about all kinds of issues. But for some reason, menopause loomed large in my mind. I’d heard the horror stories of loss of desire and sexual activity.

Menopause, the Marshmallow Monster

To me, menopause became the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man—innocent in theory, but it might end up rampaging through my town and tearing up my satisfying sex life.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters (1984)

Well, I’ve reached the other side now! And my sex life is still here.

So it’s time, or rather past time, to talk about what menopause does to a woman’s sexuality.

Is it Menopause or Perimenopause?

Menopause refers to the cessation of ovulation and thus the end of menstruation. What we refer to as menopause, however, is often perimenopause—the 4–10 year period during which a woman’s body transitions.

The average age of menopause itself, among women in the United States, is 51 years. That means that perimenopause starts for many women in their 40s, though it can begin sooner or later.

Perimenopause symptoms include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Tender breasts
  • Irregular periods
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Vaginal dryness / sexual discomfort
  • Urine leakage (like when you cough or sneeze) or urge to pee more often
  • Sleep disruption
  • Lowered sex drive

Let me demystify a few of those. I won’t cover all of them, because some like “fatigue” speak for themselves. But others are unusual in how we experience them and how they impact our sexuality.

Hot Flashes

Given the word “flash,” I anticipated a rush of heat barreling toward me. But that’s not how it felt.

What we’re experiencing is a heat flush. It’s just like when you exert yourself so much you get overheated, and a wave of warmth slowly rises until you suddenly realize that you’re really hot.

Only with menopause, you didn’t exert yourself. Rather, hormonal changes affect our body’s temperature control; that is, perimenopausal women accidentally overheat sometimes because the system is re-calibrating. These waves of heat tend to pass within a few minutes, and the flushes usually subside or go away altogether once you reach menopause.

How do hot flashes affect your sex life? Well, it may impact your desire for skin-to-skin contact. If you’re in the middle of a heat flush, you’re unlikely to be all: “Cuddle up close, my beloved, so I can sweat all over you!”

And then there’s the possibility that you’re right in the middle of sexual activity with your husband, and the heat comes over you like an ocean tide. Suddenly, you do as I’ve done—push away with an “Oh my gosh, I’m so hot. Hang on. I need a break.”

But that tide ebbs, the wave subsides, the heat passes. The lovemaking continues.

So yeah, hot flashes can be a challenge. But I’ve yet to talk to any wife who says hot flashes killed her sex life.

Vaginal Atrophy (Dryness / Discomfort)

The #1 issue with perimenopause/menopause and sexual intimacy is the changes in your vagina. Sorry to break it to you, but your hooha is aging—like the rest of you—and it may need extra care to remain spry and sex-capable.

As you move toward or reach the end of ovulation, your estrogen levels go way down. That means your vagina doesn’t secrete moisture as well, but you also experience vulvovaginal atrophy.

Before menopause, when the vagina is well supplied with estrogen, its lining is thicker and has more folds, allowing it to stretch with intercourse and childbirth. After menopause, when levels of estrogen are low, the vaginal lining is thinner and has fewer folds, which makes it less flexible.

Changes in the Vagina and Vulva, Sexual Side Effects of Menopause | The North American Menopause Society, NAMS

So you’re drier and less flexible. Given that sex requires lubrication and stretching, it’s not surprising that many women then experience discomfort during intercourse.

How prevalent are these symptoms? In a 2015 self-report study of over 1,500 women aged 55 and above, 45% of sexually active women aged 55 and above reported pain or discomfort during sex “usually” or “always.” Ouch.

Does that mean you should halt sex? No, because (1) there are varied ways of addressing estrogen deficiency and vaginal atrophy, and (2) not having sex can worsen the condition:

When a woman doesn’t have intercourse or other vaginal sexual activity on a regular basis following menopause, her vagina may also become shorter and narrower. Then, when she does try to have intercourse, she is likely to experience pain, even if she uses a lubricant…. Continuing to have regular vaginal sexual activity through menopause helps keep the vaginal tissues thick and moist and maintains the vagina’s length and width. This helps keep sexual activity pleasurable.

Changes in the Vagina and Vulva, Sexual Side Effects of Menopause | The North American Menopause Society, NAMS

What can you do? Among your options are:

  • Generous lubricant use during sexual activity
  • Locally applied estrogen cream
  • Vaginal suppositories of estrogen
  • Vaginal moisturizer, like Replens or KY Liquibeads
  • Pelvic therapy
  • Vaginal dilators
  • Local numbing agent
  • DHEA supplements (but see caveat below)

I included that last one because it’s often suggested as a fix, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t note my own reluctance. Mayo Clinic and other well-established medical communities do not currently recommended supplemental DHEA, and you can read about their concerns here.

Regardless, study your options and discuss them with a knowledgeable health care provider who can tailor advice to your situation. Please don’t suffer with vaginal dryness or sexual discomfort when there’s so many ways to get around that hurdle.

If you experience ongoing or intense pain, see a specialist. Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife has an excellent post on pursuing that course.

Lowered Sex Drive

So you’re supposed to be having sex, with a few adjustments, to keep your vajayjay in good health—but what if you don’t feel like it? What if your desire or sexual responsiveness has taken a nosedive with the arrival of perimenopause or menopause?

According to one study of 2,020 Australian women, ages 40–65 (cross-sectional, nationally representative, community-based sample), low desire was an issue for 69.3% of middle-aged women. That’s really high, y’all. Though the study doesn’t say how many experienced low desire before, the researchers did correlate vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse as factors affecting desire.

Well, of course. If something really hurts, why would you want to do it again and again? But remember that sex is not supposed to hurt! God created it to feel good.

In addition, other symptoms mentioned above—fatigue, mood swings, sleep disruption—can play into lowered sexual interest. If you don’t feel good overall, it can be difficult to pull together the oomph needed to engage in physical intimacy.

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That said, some wives report higher sexual interest during perimenopause or after menopause. That could be due to a few different factors:

  • Lack of concern about getting pregnant (aka “Freedom!”)
  • No more contraception planning
  • Kids older or grown, so sex can happen without disruption
  • Testosterone spike (when estrogen drops, testosterone gets freed up a bit)
  • Husband’s older-age ability to last (for some, when he goes longer, her interest’s stronger)
  • Accumulated knowledge of her body and what arouses and satisfies her (“Face it, girls, I’m older and I have more orgasms.”)

Menopause can thus lower or increase sexual interest. If the former is happening, tackle the underlying causes. That may require talking to a doctor, adjusting your schedule, changing your diet, etc. But face that issue head-on.

And if you’re one of those with a sudden surge of desire, you may simply hang on and ride the roller coaster with your hubby, assuming he’s willing and able. But a warning: Your surge may come with more sexual temptation than before. Sadly, some middle-aged woman with new-and-improved sex drives have fallen into affairs.

Talk to your husband about what you’re dealing with, actively embrace healthy sexual thoughts and actions (revisit Philippians 4:8 for inspiration), and stay focused on the right outlet for your increased interest. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3).

Menopause, the Marshmallow from Mars

So what’s menopause really done to my sex life?

Thankfully, it hasn’t been the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man terrorizing my neighborhood. It’s been more like the marshmallow analogy from the TV show Veronica Mars (of which I’m a huge fan, by the way).

Teen detective Veronica Mars puts out a tough, don’t-mess-with-me vibe, just like menopause. But as her best friend Wallace puts it: “Underneath that angry young woman shell, there’s a slightly less angry young woman who’s just dying to bake me something. You’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars. A twinkie!”

Menopause has its challenges, its moments, its angry old-woman shell, but it’s soft underneath. It just means I’ve reached that age when sexual intimacy no longer has the potential for procreation, and yet God continues to bless our marital union with pleasure and intimacy.

With a few adjustments here and there, you too can embrace all the blessings God still wants to give your marriage bed.

How Sex Can Help Us Cope

My background is only relevant inasmuch as it has a bearing on my mission and ability to fulfill it. Which is why I’m totally transparent about my past sexual baggage and how God redeemed my marriage.

I’m also authentic about struggles I’ve had and the minor frustrations of life. Because I want people to recognize that a happy marriage doesn’t mean a perfect marriage. After all, we’re all sinners (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8), and that includes both husband and wife. We will let each other down, but we can continue to strive for the best and show agape love that covers over our sins when we fail (1 Peter 4:8).

But I’ve wrangled with whether to say anything about what I’ve been going through lately, because it doesn’t directly impact this ministry. Except I concluded there’s something worth learning from it.

A Foundation Shaken

Long story short: I recently learned that my mother perpetuated a 16-year deception on an issue of significance. Whatever trust we’d built before shattered, and the fallout has been difficult for my family of origin.

As a consequence, I’ve been distracted and distraught. Like someone grieving, I have good days and bad days. On good days, I cross off the to-dos on my list and interact with others with a genuine smile. On bad days, I end up on an hour-long phone call with a sibling, escape into writing fiction where the real world doesn’t exist, or simply cry a lot.

A Strange Way to Cope

Oddly enough, I’ve been having more sex in my marriage. Or perhaps it’s not odd at all, because that is also a way of providing balm to a weary soul. Those moments of connection with my husband and intense pleasure for myself have taken me away from the heaviness of my heart and allowed me to reset my mind and heart, even if for a short while.

There is a beautiful verse in the last chapter of Song of Songs, almost a summary of the marital love portrayed in the book: “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”

When other parts of our life seem to have been swept away by a raging river, the covenant love between husband and wife—expressed in the sanctity of the marriage bed—can make us feel grounded, safe, solid.

When other parts of our life seem to have been swept away by a raging river, the covenant love between husband and wife—expressed in the sanctity of the #marriage bed—can make us feel grounded, safe, solid. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Sex That Soothes

Not all sexual encounters necessarily have this effect. Rather, you may need to cultivate the atmosphere or specifics that result in sex that soothes. And your emotional needs are specific to you.

Let’s look at what I mean with some examples:

  • Spouse A may desire slow, deliberate caresses that calm their nerves and comfort their soul.
  • Spouse B may want sex that’s hot, heavy, and even fast, thus taking their mind from what’s happening and engaging it in solely in passion.
  • Spouse C may want to focus on giving their mate sexual pleasure, as that provides them some sense of control when the rest of life feels out of control.
  • Spouse D may want to try something new, giving them the reminder that they can choose a new direction and find positivity from it.

Sex is not just sex, but often reflects where we are in life and/or reminds us what we can do and be in life. Many spouses, especially husbands, say that a satisfying sex life makes them feel like they can take on the world. When that world has been particularly shaken, sexual intimacy with your beloved can soothe your tender places and infuse you with courage to take on the struggles you’re facing.

When your world has been shaken, sexual intimacy with your beloved can soothe your tender places and infuse you with courage to take on the struggles you're facing. #marriage @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Getting What You Need

I do not have the magic formula to get you the sex you need/want for your whole life or marriage. That’s a process which my ministry certainly helps with, but it isn’t a quick fix. Moreover, this section presumes two good-willed spouses—imperfect, sure, but good-willed.

But let’s say you’re in the midst of a foundation-shaking life event, and you desire sex that could soothe your soul, how do you go about getting the specific kind of sex that would accomplish that goal? How can you communicate to your spouse what you desire in a way most likely to result in you getting just that?

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Well, you have a few choices, and you can pick which one you think will work.

  • Talk about it outside the bedroom. Tell him/her how you’re feeling, what sexual experience you believe would help, and then invite them to have that kind of intimacy with you.
  • As you’re starting a lovemaking session, be specific about your desires. Explain that you’d like to try X, Y, or Z because you long for the comfort that provides you in the midst of your current challenge.
  • Give ongoing feedback to guide your spouse. Using verbal encouragement or moving either your or their hands, mouth, body, etc. to where/how you want it, and then give positive reinforcement when it’s going the way you need/want.
  • Take charge and make it happen. Go directly for what you want, inviting him/her with your actions to go along with the lovemaking you desire.

If you’re both going through the same earth-shattering event, you may be on the same page with what you want, or you may need to take turns getting what you each need. Be willing to minister—yes, minister—to one another through sexual intimacy.

You’re Not Alone

One of the most beautiful aspects of sex in the midst of emotional pain is the sense that you are not alone. God created human sex such that it involves the penetration of one’s body part into the other’s body part—a physical connection that meets the “one flesh” description in the Bible. In that moment of intercourse, husband and wife are not separate, but joined…literally and relationally.

When life is not just giving you lemons but lobbing them at you like a game of fruit dodgeball, you can feel very alone. Sexual intimacy can remind us that we’re not alone. Not only is God in our corner, always beside us, but He has provided a partner in life who will be there too.

It’s true: sex can help you cope.


6 Worst Things You Can Give for Valentine’s Day

Usually, this time of year I write about what to give your spouse for Valentine’s Day. If you’re only looking for that advice, visit my roundup of previous Valentine’s posts here.

But sometimes to do the right thing, we need to know what not to do. Thus, all those Thou Shalt Nots in the Ten Commandments. So let’s talk about six things you might have given, but you won’t now that I’ve warned you!

1. Unvoiced Expectations

You’re expecting something special from your spouse this Valentine’s Day. After all, it’s the lovers holiday! So of course, he knows how important this is. And if he’s been paying attention at all, he must have picked up on your hints about what you want.

When Valentine’s Day arrives, you suddenly realize he has no such plans. He bought nothing, he has no date plans, and the card he purchased was a standard greeting that doesn’t begin to express your unique connection.

Look, your husband may genuinely be a clod, but more often I see husbands, and sometimes wives, who honestly didn’t know what their spouse wanted because the expectations were never laid out.

If this holiday matters to you, tell your spouse and tell them why. If they—like I once did—rant about V-Day being a ruse concocted by greeting card companies, florists, and chocolate makers, let them air out their opinion. Then at the end, say, “I can see your point, but to me, it’s a chance to show each other love. It’s just a day on the calendar, but I still want you to honor me with a gift.” Or something like that.

Don’t stay silent about your expectations—voice them!

2. Nagging

  • “February 14 is coming up.”
  • “It’s Valentine’s Day this week.”
  • “You do have my gift, right?”
  • “I hope this year’s present is something I actually want.”

It’s okay to remind your beloved that Valentine’s Day is only days away. But if mention it over and over and over, those reminders become like nibbles, gnawing away at your spouse’s independent desire to do anything for this holiday.

The day begins to feel like an obligation instead of an opportunity, and the burden of your expectations can weigh them down until they’re unsure they can meet them. The holiday can seem like so much to you that nothing short of an event that goes viral on social media will do. “Oh my gosh, did you see what Bob did for his wife?! Wasn’t it perfect?”

Poor everyone-not-named-Bob. They can’t compete with that! And honestly, we shouldn’t nag our spouses for it. Lighten up and let your spouse enjoy this holiday too.

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3. The Gift You Want Them to Have

Let’s presume a scenario in which she asked for a certain patio table, and you got her the one that’s “better” because it matches the features you thought she should have. Never mind that she had been periodically wandering through Lowe’s and Home Depot for the last two years sitting at patio tables and finally found and asked for the perfect one. Because yeah, the table you got her was beautiful and twice as expensive. (Someone reading this right now recognizes this story. ~grin~ Love you, Spock!)

But this setup happens for others: a spouse asks for something, and the other decides to get something else. Now it’s true that you might get points for buying a higher quality version of something than your spouse asked for, since many people feel bad about asking for more than the bare minimum. Sometimes, however, you’re just substituting your opinion for theirs.

If your spouse has asked for a specific gift for Valentine’s Day, you can follow up by inquiring why they want that particular item. Let them express how they made their decision, and then you can decide whether to vary from their request or stick with it. If they have a particular preference, honor that.

4. A Surprise When Your Spouse Hates Surprises

I admit to being wowed by stories of a husband planning a getaway weekend and whisking his wife away to some gorgeous destination with barely any notice. Such a surprise usually requires advance planning, conspiring with family members or friends, and attention to presentation. It all sounds so…romantic!

But I have friends who would hate that—genuinely hate it. “Whisked away” would be “yanked away,” and “barely any notice” would be “no consideration for my schedule.” Even “conspiring with family members and friends” would be “why didn’t anyone tell me so I could prepare???”

Look, your desire to surprise them really comes from a great place of wanting to show love! But it’s showing love the way you’d like to receive it, instead of tailoring such expressions to what meets your spouse’s emotional needs.

Just remember that a surprise for some is like this:

And a surprise for others is like this:

Know which one your spouse is, and plan your Valentine’s Day accordingly.

5. Super Sexpectations

Let me clarify first: I’m a fan of sex on Valentine’s Day! Though, to be fair, I’m a fan of sex on any day that ends with y. Still, it’s nice to celebrate the holiday of romantic love by savoring physical intimacy with your spouse.

However, we can get so wrapped up in making holiday sex a spectacular event that must exceed other sexual experiences. We believe this time:

  • the wife must wear that special red teddy you got her
  • the husband must properly prepare the bedroom for lovemaking
  • the lovemaking must be as choreographed as an Oscar movie sex scene
  • the orgasms must be earth-shattering

Again, not opposed to any of that! If your orgasm shatters the earth, good for you. High-five.

But what if your spouse isn’t on board with all of that? What if your kid gets sick that day? What if her lubrication or his erection just doesn’t cooperate with it being February 14?

Go ahead and pursue sexual intimacy on Valentine’s Day—and make sure you voice that desire—but emphasize intimacy. If you came closer together on that day, it’s a win, for you, for marriage, for love.

Go ahead and pursue sexual intimacy on Valentine's Day—and make sure you voice that desire—but emphasize intimacy. #marriage #Christiansex @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

6. Silence

You know this day matters to your spouse, or you think it might, but you don’t even acknowledge it. You don’t buy her anything. You don’t do anything for him. You don’t show extra affection or make time for a sexual encounter. You treat it like any other day. Ouch.

I recently tweeted this:

If you haven’t figured out yet how to celebrate, get with it! It’s day’s away! I have a bunch of posts with ideas that you can access here, and I’m hardly the only marriage website giving out ideas for Valentine’s!

If it matters to your spouse, don’t let the day pass with recognition. Use this opportunity to selflessly demonstrate love your mate.


Click to buy or learn more!

One Week Until Valentine’s Day

This is a bonus post, in which I want to provide readers a quick-and-easy way to access my Valentine’s Day ideas. With quite a few posts, you may want to scroll through and look at titles before deciding which ones to click!

Quick Tip: If you want the link to open in a new window, right-click on the post’s title and choose that option. I cannot override the embed feature here to automatically open posts in a new window.

How We Think About Valentine’s Day

Intimacy Revealed Ad

Gift Ideas

What to Do for Valentine’s Day

That’s it! Maybe you can see what I didn’t write another post this year. I have so many already! Best wishes celebrating in the way that you and your spouse do.

Remember my caveat, though: If Valentine’s Day is important to your spouse, it should be important to you…because your spouse is important.


101 Words for Your Private Parts (But No Curse Words)

Periodically, I’ve come across lists of words people use for erogenous zones and genitalia. From what I recall, all of those had both good ideas and icky ideas.

In an effort to equip Christians with a lot of sexy ideas, I’ve compiled a list of 101 words for private areas, none of which are curse words or generally considered vulgar. Still, make sure your choices are okay with your specific mate!

Some words are scientific, some straightforward, some poetic, some funny. But the intent of this list is to inspire you to speak positively and creatively about your body and your spouse’s body.

I have a feeling this post will bring readers who don’t usually come to Hot, Holy & Humorous. If you’re one of those, you should know that I write for married couples and encourage you to check out what God says about sexual intimacy!


A woman’s breasts includes fatty tissue, areolas, and nipples. Breasts come in various sizes and shapes, including athletic, bell-shaped, east-west, and round.

Whatever they look like, though, a woman’s breasts tend to be an erogenous zone for one or both spouses. As Proverbs 5:19 says to a husband about his wife: “May her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”

Here’s a variety of ways to refer to a wife’s breasts:

  1. bon bons
  2. boobs
  3. bosom
  4. bust
  5. chest
  6. chesticles / breasticles
  7. chi chis
  8. coconuts
  9. cookies
  10. cupcakes
  11. fawns
  12. fruit
  13. the girls
  14. Grand Tetons (or another mountain reference)
  15. lady humps
  16. lovelies
  17. mangoes (from Bend It Like Beckham)
  18. nipples
  19. pillows
  20. rack
  21. second base
  22. tatas
  23. taters
  24. twins
  25. yabos (from Hocus Pocus)


Vulva refers to all the external female genitalia, including the pubic mound, labia majora, labia minora, clitoral bulb, vaginal opening, and Bartholin’s gland ducts (pea-sized openings where secretions emerge).

Song of Songs seems to prefer the word “garden” in reference to the wife’s vulva, but below are many options.

  1. bajingo
  2. bud
  3. cave of mysteries
  4. clitoris
  5. cookie
  6. core
  7. flower (also rose, tulip)
  8. folds
  9. garden
  10. honey pot
  11. hooha
  12. kitty
  13. lady bits
  14. (vaginal) lips
  15. magician’s hat (his part disappears inside)
  16. muffin
  17. nub
  18. papaya
  19. petals
  20. sheath
  21. sweet spot
  22. tunnel of love / love tunnel
  23. vagina
  24. vajayjay
  25. velvet glove
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The penis is a fascinating body part. The more one learns about it, the more one appreciates God’s creation. (See Are You a Fan of Your Husband’s Man-Part?)

Given how many labels men have come up with for this (favorite) body part they own, this probably could have been a post with 101 words for penis. But we’ll stick to the ones below.

  1. boner
  2. erection
  3. Excalibur (yes, like King Arthur’s legendary sword)
  4. fire hose
  5. hard-on
  6. head
  7. hot dog
  8. johnson
  9. joystick
  10. love muscle
  11. love pistol
  12. man-part
  13. member
  14. Mr. Happy
  15. mushroom (especially for a circumcised penis)
  16. pecker
  17. peter
  18. phallus
  19. popsicle (see my own post on this!)
  20. rocket
  21. rod
  22. sausage
  23. snake
  24. soldier (or hey, general!)
  25. stiffy
  26. tool
  27. trouser monkey
  28. wand
  29. weenie / wiener
  30. willy
  31. wood
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Having raised two sons, I’ve also heard a lot of names for testicles. (You moms of boys know what I’m talking about!) These delicate semen factories get lots of labels as well.

Here are some options for what to call hubby’s testicles:

  1. balls
  2. berries
  3. cojones
  4. dangling participles
  5. fruit basket
  6. gonads
  7. huevos (Spanish for “eggs”)
  8. jewels (or family jewels)
  9. junk
  10. marbles
  11. nards
  12. nuts
  13. package
  14. pearls
  15. rocks
  16. sack
  17. scrotum
  18. stones
  19. testes
  20. wonkas (apparently because they’re between a willy and a chocolate factory)

Okay, that wraps it up! Be sure to check these out with your spouse! We should show respect for one another in the bedroom.

If you want, you can download a checklist. Fill out one checklist together or print two copies, fill them out separately, and then share your results.

A big thank you to the ladies in my higher drive wife group who made great suggestions, many of which are included here.