Natural remedies and treatments for menopause in the 21st century
Menopause solutions are more than just medications, supplements, and lasers for your vagina....
Back in 2017, I attended NAMS (National American Menopause Society), one of the largest conferences dedicated to midlife, menopause, and perimenopause attended by doctors from around the world. A lot of people who are experiencing menopause turn to the product I helped create, the Lioness Smart Vibrator, to use data to learn more about their own bodies and pleasure, so I wanted to learn more about what else is out there to help.
I spent most of my time on the show floor amongst some of the newest products on the market with an eye for products that improved sexual wellbeing… but I was surprised by the proportion of companies dedicated to vaginal rejuvenation laser and light therapies. Well, that and talk about the so-called Female Viagra (which is not like its “male” equivalent but is akin to a daily antidepressant with an FDA black box warning).
I wondered if doctors and patients alike knew about other options out there besides procedures and medications to improve your sex life (and life in general).
Sex is important
Sex is more than simply a biological function. It’s also psychological (for everyone, not just women!) and the psychological and biological interact with each other. If we’re not feeling good about our health, our bodies, or our relationships, we’re more likely to have unsatisfying sex and pleasure. Pills and lasers can help and sometimes they are the solution, but they can only do so much in some cases. We need to have all the options on the table if we want to set ourselves up to be happy with our sex lives.
Being in the sexual wellness space and having a very data-oriented product, I come across a variety of different products and services that can improve sex, intimacy, and pleasure. They can help alone or in tandem with medications and procedures. Wanting to see more conversation about the many options that are out there, I’ve made this article summarizing some of the less-known, but amazing 21st-century products made to make sex (and life) better for midlife, menopause and beyond.
Menopause often changes things
Disclaimer: Everyone’s experience of midlife and menopause is different
Some people will not experience many of the symptoms at all, while for others, menopause feels like a curse that you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. There are a number of other factors that may affect what sort of things might be especially helpful or interesting to you, based on past experiences, your body, physical health, mental health, relationship status, and more.
With that said, here are some options you may want to check out!
Advice is a text or video call away
In the good ol' days, "we didn't talk about that stuff." Fortunately, these days, getting advice on your health, relationship, sex life, and pleasure is a lot easier.
Answers from experts
If you have a sex or relationship question you’d like some help with, Juicebox can pair you with a coach who can help you with any question under the sun. They work with people of all ages and backgrounds, so if there’s something really specific you need, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
If you have questions more on the menopause-side of things, genneve offers video appointments with nurse practitioners and physicians who specifically field questions related to midlife and menopause. If you live in California, New Jersey, Georgia, or Washington, you can book an appointment right now. If you’re not in one of those four states, you can join genneve’s community and discussion of all things midlife here.
If you have hot flashes… they can be the. worst. Seriously, they can be such a pain to deal with and you feel like they’ll never end.
While there are certain options like hormone therapy (estrogen) and even antidepressants that can help, they’re not suitable for everyone. They can be a real drag day-to-day and tamper down on sexy time, too.
There is a non-medication device that might be able to help, however—Embr is a bracelet developed by MIT scientists that can help you regulate your body temperature (including when you have hot flashes). They use “cutting-edge thermoelectrics and precisely engineered algorithms to produce maximally effective temperature waves” i.e. it regulates temperature from your body with science. 😉 The bracelet is designed for any wrist size and lasts for 2-3 days until it needs to be recharged.
Pornography and erotica
I know what some of you might be thinking… but hear me out. The world of pornography and erotica is vast, and there’s something for everyone.
Depending on your interests, there’s ethical porn if you want to make sure the folks who work on your content are treated fairly. If you’re looking to filter out pornography to only the types of content you want to see (and pass/avoid things you don’t want to see), there’s pornography and erotica that is created by and for women, pornography created by and for queer folks, and pornography specifically for niche interests. You can even get bespoke porn that is made and produced especially for you and you only!
Suction sex toys
These products are a class of arousers that use suction to stimulate your clitoris. While this form of stimulation can sometimes feel too intense for some people to be extraordinarily pleasurable, it can be very helpful for others who need extra help with physiological arousal. And when they work, they work very, very well.
Warming up your lube and toys
Thinking about warming up your lubricants or toys may not be the first thing you’d think of when you think about sex stuff. However, a bit of warmth can add much needed… warmth (figuratively and literally) to your experience and make it feel much better. You can warm up your lubricants using Pulse’s lubricant warming technology or warm up your sex toys with Warm’s classy pouches.
Better Sex and Orgasms
For a variety of reasons, be it hormone changes, health changes, injuries, or just general stress, sometimes sex and orgasms just feel… meh. This is not an uncommon complaint among people in midlife (though to be fair, these experiences can strike at any age, not just as you get older).
If you’re in the market for better sex and orgasms (and honestly, who isn’t?) there are a variety of tantalizing ways to explore pleasure.
Vibrators are having a moment — there are gadgets and gizmos aplenty nowadays. From vibrators designed to be worn during sex to vibrators you wear around your neck like a necklace to vibrators that help you visualize your orgasms and have better sex… to vibrators that just, well, plain look better than the late 1990s Rabbit Habit featured in Sex and the City. There are all sorts of vibrators out there to suit all sorts of tastes.
Looking for some advice on how to choose a vibrator? We've put together a guide on that here.
Yup, weed lube is a real thing.
If you like cannabis or find the idea of it intriguing, there are now lubricants infused with THC to get your vagina or anus high. We’ve tested it ourselves and have heard from others who've tried it that it can make arousal and orgasms feel more intense, amplify pleasure, and make you more keen to keep going for a second (or third) round. Granted, results may vary since cannabis affects people differently, but hey, if you’re looking for ways to heighten your sex experience, this may be something to experiment with for yourself.
Currently, Foria, Quim Rock, and Velvet Swing make THC lubricants for sale where cannabis is legal. And as an FYI, these lubricants are technically “pre-lubricants”, meaning that they take a little bit of time for the effects to kick in. It varies from 20 min to an hour, so time your sessions accordingly.
Self-confidence and body positivity
Loving your body can be tough at any age. Especially with all the pressures from the media, advertising, people in our own lives, and even ourselves, we end up tearing ourselves down needlessly and becoming our own worst enemy.
When we get older, there are specific challenges that we may face that cause us to feel this way — we may feel down about how age has changed our bodies, or we might feel down about our weight or a health problem that has significantly affected our lives. In our product development research, we found that for a lot of women, poor body image will often contribute to an unsatisfactory sex life.
Connect with yourself
What’s the solution for this? Ultimately, loving yourself comes from within and there’s no magic wand or pill that will make this happen (and not even the best vibrator in the world... this coming from someone who makes vibrators! 😉 ). However, there are certain experiences that can help us take a step back and change our perspectives.
Blush and Tease Boudoir can be much more than just taking pictures in your underwear. Photographer Adena takes you on a journey of self-discovery with the intention of helping you back on the path of self-love and confidence. Her mission is to help people discover their own inner beauty through artistic expression because it’s already there… we sometimes just need a little help bringing it out. Adena is based in Denver, CO, but she does travel to locations to shoot if there is popular demand, so if you’re interested, see if you can coordinate her to come to your town soon!
Back to the Body is a sensual self-love retreat that happens several times a year in the United States and in locations around the world. No matter where you are on your sexual journey, they will welcome you where you are and help you discover your pleasure through an immersive experience. During the retreat, you will bond with other attendees and work with certified somatic sex educators to explore your pleasure. If you’re looking to dedicate time to explore your pleasure and make some great friends in the process, definitely check them out.
Relationships (romantic and platonic)
Even as early as graduating from school, we find that our relationship circles shrink over time. Although that usually means that the relationships that we do keep are all the more important and satisfying to us, sometimes our social circles have shrunk so much that we need friends, and sometimes more.
That’s where Stitch comes in. Although they were first joked about as “Tinder for old people” back in the day on Stephen Colbert’s show, they’re not just about dating. With Stitch, you can meet other folks 50+ who are looking for friends, relationships, or friends with benefits—and you can set what you want to look for if you’re more interested in one or another.
Depending on your strength and flexibility, some sex positions can be more difficult to achieve or maintain than others… but they might be really, really pleasurable when you’re able to get things just right. That’s where sex furniture can come in to help prop people up into the optimal angles for maximum pleasure.
A simple wedge pillow
If you’ve ever looked up a wedge pillow on Amazon for sleep apnea and you saw some cheeky reviews… well, it’s true. Wedge pillows for sleep apnea also make really great tools for propping up your tush for a (potentially) better angle during sex. Plus, since it’s not an uncommon sight to see an interesting-shaped white pillow in the bedroom… your in-laws and children will be none the wiser about your newest favorite sex-thing.
Wedge ramp/combo gearbag by Liberator
If you’re curious about other options for angles and positions, Liberator makes pillows and furniture of all shapes and sizes imaginable. Some of them even come in blocks so you can stack them however you’d like, or straps so you can do a little roleplay or BDSM with your partner.
If you want assistive furniture that also makes you feel like a sexy minx, the Archer Bowchair is calling for you. It’s not just any chair, it’s a beautiful feat of art and engineering that’s also designed for great sex. It was created by husband and wife Bob and Lisa — Lisa had a pelvic floor disorder that was making pleasurable sex very difficult for her. Bob is a self-taught engineer and designer who helped make a solution that they (and many others around the world) love.
Painful sex can be incredibly frustrating, and, like these other things, can happen at any age. Depending on your exact circumstances, there are a variety of options you can try to mitigate the pain, whether it’s from dryness, pelvic floor function, or something else.
If you haven’t tried one already, a great sex lube can make sex go from meh to ~wow~. We go much more in-depth in our guide to choosing a lubricant, but basically, there are a variety of different lubricants depending on what you’re looking for and your specific needs. There are some fine ones you can find at your local convenience store, but some of the best lubricants can be found online.
Some are designed more specifically for general vaginal dryness (not just during sex) that is experienced during menopause, while water-based lubes are designed to be compatible with toys and silicone-based are designed to be longer-lasting for longer sessions. If you’re paralyzed by all of the choices out there, I suggest getting a few samples of different lubricants and trying them to see which one is your favorite!
Think of vaginal dilators kind of like Russian nesting dolls. They are products that come in a range of sizes (though they usually do not stack a la Russian dolls), and they are for if you have difficulties with penetration. Soul Sources is the OG company in this space — they make silicone dilators of a range of sizes so you can start wherever you need to and work your way up.
If you tend to have painful sex from penetration and want a solution for during intercourse, there’s a new product that recently came onto the market in late 2018 called the Ohnut. It was primarily developed by Emily, who needed a solution for herself when dealing with painful sex. Ohnut comes in sort of squishy building blocks. You put them on the penis or dildo before penetration, and the Ohnuts act as a stopper to keep the penetration from going as deep. Since each Ohnuts comes with a set of 4 blocks, you can even remove or add blocks as needed.
The best way I can describe CBD lubricants is that it's kind of like weed lube’s more sensible sister. Weed lube will take you to the rave (or discotec). Both of you be up dancing until 5am. You vaguely remember your wild time and some person you made out with, but your head is pounding for days afterward from the lights and Eurobeat you endured for hours on end. CBD lube will take you to a weekend meditation retreat, put lavender incense in your room, and tuck you into bed and kiss you on the forehead.
Okay, I had enough fun with that example... In other words, CBD lube is non-psychoactive. It probably won’t take your orgasms into the fourth dimension, but it may help you feel more relaxed or comfortable like other CBD-oriented products can do.
Some have hypothesized that CBD lubricants and suppositories might be able to help with cramps and pain during sex and are starting to do more research into these topics. This will take some time as the research is still early (even hemp-based CBD became legal in all 50 states just last year), but hopefully we will have more information about this soon.
If you’re looking for some options, Foria and Quim Rock both make CBD pre-lube (meaning, you put it on 20-30 minutes before getting it on). Foria also makes suppositories if you prefer getting your CBD in another method.
Urinary incontinence is when you accidentally pee yourself from sneezing, laughing too hard at a joke, or when your pelvic floor is too weak to be able to hold everything in. It can happen after giving birth (sometimes even for years after having a child), though it can also happen from a lack of exercise and strength training.
It can also put a damper on our sex lives, since it signals that there’s something amiss with our pelvic floor (which contributes to having satisfactory orgasms) and, frankly, not having control over a seemingly basic function like your bladder could negatively impact your own personal body image.
Fortunately, there are more products and services out there that can help you manage symptoms, get into good shape again, and make you feel great in your body.
From the folks who created THINX period panties comes Icon undies. They use materials that are specifically leak-proof so you can minimize embarrassment if you accidentally have a bit of a bladder leak.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists
Okay, this isn’t a company or product per se, but pelvic floor physical therapists are amazing resources if you have any questions about pelvic floor health, including bladder leaks, painful sex… and pretty much anything related to pelvic floor stuff. Looking for one? Go here to find one near you.
I’d recommend trying to see one first before diving into kegels. From the advice of our pelvic floor therapist friend Rachel Gelman, depending on your circumstances, kegels can actually do more harm than good, so if there’s something you’re concerned about you definitely want to make sure you’re doing the right routine to feel better again.
Also, depending on your insurance, sometimes pelvic floor physical therapy is covered (hi Kaiser!). Even if not, certain clinics have openings specifically for people who don’t have coverage or are low-income, so don’t let the initial sticker shock deter you from trying to take care of yourself.
Now, if you’ve been told by a pelvic floor physical therapist that you do need to practice kegels, there are a bunch of options out there. One of the best I’ve seen in terms of blending technology, user-friendliness, and design is the Elvie Kegel Trainer.
It’s a little pod you put in your vagina that you can also connect to the app to do different exercises. It also gives you feedback about whether you’re doing your kegels correctly, which is important because a lot of people end up doing kegels incorrectly (and potentially hurting themselves in the process). Elvie also comes with a cute little charger dock that doubles as a carrying case.
Besides tech products, there are also traditional solutions like ben wa balls and yoni eggs (the latter which Gwyneth Paltrow made popular), though these are not able to provide you with feedback about whether you’re doing the exercises correctly and they can be made from questionable/porous materials. I tried the eggs for myself, and didn’t really get anywhere…
As you can see, if you have a question or a curiosity to explore, there’s something for you! There are always new things on the horizon, so as we see more products come to market, we’ll be sure to keep this list updated and keep you in the loop!
Want more ways to experiment and heighten pleasure? Experiment with The Lioness
Lioness is the first and only vibrator that helps you improve your orgasms.
The world’s most advanced rabbit-style vibrator. Precision sensors let you literally see your arousal and orgasm. Experiment, understand yourself, and have better orgasms—after all, as the saying goes, “never measured, never improved.”
Click here to learn more.