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Decreased Sexual Desire In Menopause

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If you’re going through menopause, you may have noticed that your sex drive or libido is changing. A woman’s sexual desires naturally change with passing time, but not every woman experiences a decrease in libido (some women experience increased libido too!). During menopause, a decline in estrogen levels causes vaginal dryness and tightness, leading to sex being more painful and reduced sexual desire.

This article features information about how menopause dampens your sexual desire and how you can improve it.

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is referred to as the end of your menstrual cycle in your 40s or 50s. It occurs when you stop having your period permanently or you’ve gone one year without having your period. Menopause is not just the end of your menstrual cycle; it also affects your body in different ways, such as reduced libido.

A woman’s life, including her sex life, is highly influenced by physical and emotional changes caused by menopause. Some symptoms (or, most precisely the side effects) caused by menopause may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Thinning of hair
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Hot flashes
  • Bladder control issues

What Is Sexual Desire?

Sexual desire or libido is defined as sexual enjoyment and sexual interest. Different women notice changes in their sex drives at different ages. For example, some women start noticing decreased libido in their midlife years, some do not observe any changes, and some show increased sex drive in their midlife years. According to a new study, decreased sexual desire is observed in 40% of women aged over 60 [1].

Decreased libido in older women is caused by many factors, including biological causes, psychological causes, hormonal changes, and relationship issues.

In some women, menopause is the major contributor to reduced sexual desire, while in others, reduced sexual desire could be due to other reasons.

One review reported that about 68% to 86% of postmenopausal women experience sexual problems in their lives [2].

Why Does Menopause Cause Reduced Sexual Desire?

Those women in menopause transition have lower levels of estrogen, which cause less lubrication, dry vaginal tissues, reduced sensation, and thinning of vaginal lining, thus resulting in painful and uncomfortable sex. Menopause transition does not always result in decreased libido. Some women notice heightened libido because of increased testosterone levels at menopause [3].

During menopause, there occurs a decrease in estrogen levels, which causes a reduction in blood flow to the vaginal tissues. Poor blood circulation results in the thinning of tissues of the vagina and labia. When this happens, your vagina becomes less sensitive to sexual stimulation.

Vaginal lubrication and your overall sexual arousal are also affected by decreased blood flow. Due to this, you experience difficulty enjoying sex and achieving orgasm. Sexual intercourse may even be painful and uncomfortable.

A fluctuation in estrogen levels when you’re going through perimenopause or menopause also affects your mental health. Disturbed mental health also results in a decrease in libido. One major contributor to a woman’s libido is stress, which is experienced by changes in hormone levels during menopause. This everyday stress makes her depressed and irritable.

One study reported that women experiencing side effects of menopause are at increased to experience decreased sexual desire. The side effects can be hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping [4].

The following are some factors that cause reduced sexual desire in a woman going through menopause:

  • Not engaging in physical activity
  • History of smoking
  • History of an underlying health condition, such as depression, diabetes, or heart disease.

What Are The Symptoms Of Decreased Sexual Desire In Women?

If you’re going through menopause, you’re more likely to experience decreased sexual desire than your partner does. However, reduced sexual desire varies in every woman. You may experience the following symptoms of reduced sexual desire:

  • Being concerned by your lack of sexual fantasies or activity.
  • Never having any sexual thoughts or fantasies during menopause.
  • Lack of interest in any sort of sexual activity, such as masturbation

What To Get Back Your Libido While Going Through Menopause?

So, what should a woman do about reviving her sex drive? Medications and treatments have proved to be successful in making your sex better after menopause. In addition to treatment and medications, making changes in lifestyle can also make a great difference.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):

After menopause, your body no longer makes hormones that are important for heightened sexual desires, e.g., estrogen. Lower levels of estrogen are responsible for vaginal atrophy and vaginal dryness. In hormone replacement therapy (HRT), estrogen pills reduce vaginal dryness and produce high levels of estrogen. These pills also reduce symptoms like mood swings and hot flashes.

According to research, women who have undergone HRT show increased libido after their menopause [4]. However, HRT also carries potential risks, such as breast cancer, blot clots, and heart attacks. To prevent any side effects, it is better to use vaginal rings or estrogen creams.

Exercise:

Engaging in physical activities, like exercise is not only important against obesity, but it also improves mood and blood circulation. When you start exercising, endorphins are released, stimulating positive emotions and reducing depression.

If you have not exercised for a long time, start by walking or working out for only 20 to 30 minutes, until you build up stamina.

Mind-body activities also help reduce menopause-related symptoms that cause decreased libido, sexual intimacy, and sleep. These activities include:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Natural Remedies:

Natural supplements, like herbal supplements (Ginkgo biloba, saffron, fenugreek, L-citrulline etc) are known as natural sex boosters. Be sure not to use any herbs or supplements which FDA has not approved.

You can boost your libido by:

  • Soy
  • Black cohosh
  • Red clover
  • Changing Sexual Habits:

You can boost your intimate experience by spending more time in sexual activities with your partner. As stress and depression also cause exhaustion and decreased libido, you can use stress-relieving techniques by non-sexual acts of intimacy, such as going on dates with your partner, cooking together, exercising, taking a walk, and talking to each other.

Spending time alone can also help you explore your sexual stimulation. In this way, you can talk to your partner about your sexual preferences and needs without feeling any pressure.

Conclusion:

Physical symptoms related to menopause are often the main reason for reduced sexual desire, for example vaginal atrophy due to decreased estrogen, which causes tightening of vagina. Being honest and close to your partner, caring for each other, and other non-sexual acts of intimacy create strong bonds between you and your partner. Medical treatments are the best option for bringing back your libido. However, always discuss this with your doctor before taking any medications and supplements.

References:

[1]      Thomas HN, Hamm M, Hess R, Borrero S, Thurston RC. “i want to feel like i used to feel”: A qualitative study of causes of low libido in postmenopausal women. Menopause 2020;27:289–94. doi.org/10.1097/GME.00001455.

[2]      Ambler DR, Bieber EJ, Diamond MP. Sexual function in elderly women: a review of current literature. Rev Obstet Gynecol 2012;5:16–27. doi.org/10.3909/riog0156.

[3]      Shearer JL, Salmons N, Murphy DJ, Gama R. Postmenopausal hyperandrogenism: the under-recognized value of inhibins. Ann Clin Biochem 2017;54:174–7. doi.org/10.1177/032173.

[4]      Woods NF, Mitchell ES, Smith-Di Julio K. Sexual desire during the menopausal transition and early postmenopause: observations from the Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2010;19:209–18. doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2009.1

The information in this site will not replace a medical examination or relevant medical advice. We do our best to make the most reliable and orderly information available. Still, as reliable as it may be, this information can not be a substitute for any other medical recommendation received by a qualified physician after an individual examination.
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Veronica
Veronica
8 months ago

A close friend recommended we see her sex therapist and for us this really clicked. We’ve tried natural supplements, talking more, having activities as a couple but only after we’ve talked about our vulnerabilities with our therapist things started falling into place.

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