Emotionally, menopause can be a confusing time. Feelings can be intense, as what we have been used to collides with a new world in this metamorphosis.
For instance some women experience a deep sense of relief, knowing that an unplanned pregnancy will never happen. Yet this genuine relief can collide with a profound sense of loss, knowing they'll never bear another child, or if they've never had children, that they will remain forever childless.
Where does this ambiguity come from? The feelings can be equally intense, and equally paradoxical. They contradict each other but they don't cancel each other out. The ambivalence can remain just as strong as it would if it were rational.
Do you want to start caring for a baby at age 55? For most of us the answer is no. But the sense of loss can still be very real and pervasive.
For some women, there may be unsettling questions. If they are no longer fertile are they also somehow less feminine? Is sexiness and desirability now relegated to other, younger women?
Weight gain, even for many women who never battled their weight before, can become an ongoing issue. This can make a woman who's well aware that she's getting older, feel older still.
If a woman has for most of her adult life seen herself in terms of her appearance, menopause is a trying time. Disturbing questions may arise. Has her value as a woman dropped? Has her currency as a human being diminished?
If she's focusing on new wrinkles and reduced muscle tone, she may wonder what she has to offer. Will anyone will want it?
While men don't undergo an exact parallel to menopause, middle age can take a toll on the male sex as well. Men get worn out too, and may go through their own crisis of confidence, as energy and erections are perhaps not quite what they used to be.
Put a man and woman together who are weathering these storms and you may have a prescription for a depressed sex life. Frequency, pleasure and confidence can take a nose dive that, if not handled in a straightforward manner, may never get turned around.