How Does Menopause Affect Libido?
Have you ever wondered; how does menopause affect libido? Well, many women find that their libido wanes after menopause. However, saying goodbye to periods does not necessarily mean waving off your sex life too. Here’s all you need to know about how menopause affects libido.
What Is Libido?
Libido is another way of saying sex drive. These terms describe the desire to engage in sexual activity. They differ slightly from the word arousal, which refers to physical and psychological changes that occur in preparation for intercourse.
Sexual desire is a complex subject and it differs enormously from person to person. Many factors impact an individual’s libido:
- Physical health
- Emotional wellbeing
- Relationship status
- Religious beliefs
Most pre-menopausal women experience fluctuations in libido throughout their menstrual cycles. It is normal to feel increased sexual desire in the days just before and after ovulation. However, after menopause, everything can change.
How Menopause Can Affect Libido
Lack of Estrogen
As a woman approaches menopause, her hormonal balance begins to change. Most menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, are associated with falling estrogen levels. The hormone is also responsible for many of the libido changes that women experience around this time. For example, estrogen keeps the walls of the vagina moist and elastic. Therefore, as the hormone decreases, many women suffer from vaginal dryness and atrophy.
Less Blood Flow
Blood flow to the vagina also reduces during menopause, leading to decreased sensitivity and lubrication. These common problems can make sex uncomfortable or outright painful for some women.
Lack of Testosterone
Testosterone plays a crucial role too. This hormone is essential for boosting sexual desire and its levels fall dramatically with age.
There are many other factors that can influence a woman’s sex drive during the menopausal transition. These might include negative self-image due to weight gain or the physical effects of aging. Moreover, symptoms such as night sweats and poor sleep can cause tiredness and stress, two major libido-killers.
Physical Health Conditions
Then, there are other conditions, like heart disease, diabetes and thyroid problems to consider. Furthermore, many medications can lower libido as a side effect. It’s no wonder so many women struggle to get in the mood after menopause!
What’s the Relationship Between Menopause and Libido?
Many women avoid discussing sexual symptoms with their physicians. Therefore, it is unclear exactly how many women suffer from low libido either before, during, or after menopause.
One study suggests that anywhere between 25% and 63% of all women suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction. This figure rises to between 68% and 86.5% for postmenopausal women.
However, not all women are affected in this way. Some see no changes in their sex drive after menopause, while others may even experience increased libido.
Symptoms of Low Libido
The symptoms of low libido look like:
- Lack of interest in sexual activity
- Reduced sexual pleasure and enjoyment
- Difficulty reaching orgasm
Not all women find these symptoms problematic. However, for many, they can lead to anxiety, depression, or relationship difficulties.
How Can Menopausal Women Cope With Low Libido?
For women who wish to maintain their sex drive following menopause, there are several options to cope with low libido:
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating well is among the best ways to stay healthy and maintain an optimal body weight after menopause. Focus on increasing your antioxidant intake, as these beneficial compounds not only stave off disease but can also improve blood flow to the genitals.
Some particularly antioxidant-rich foods:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean meat
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Red wine
Although a small amount of red wine can be beneficial, avoid drinking too much alcohol in general. A little tipple could help you relax you and get in the mood. However, drinking too much could leave you heading to bed for all the wrong reasons.
Regular physical exercise is another great way to stay in shape, improve circulation and boost overall energy levels. It is also a fantastic mood enhancer that could help you deal with anxiety and depression associated with low libido.
One activity that could be especially helpful is Kegel exercises. They involve tensing and relaxing a muscle group known as the pelvic floor. Doing this regularly can help to keep the vaginal walls strong and increase sexual satisfaction.
It is essential that women experiencing libido problems discuss them openly with their partner. They can then work together to find potential solutions. Some helpful tips for couples coping with low sex drive:
- Spend more quality time together, including shared hobbies or scheduled date nights
- Increase non-sexual intimacy, including kissing, cuddling, or massage
- Spend more time on foreplay to increase arousal
- Take the focus off orgasm to allow for greater relaxation
- Experiment and find ways to break up any routines that have become stale over time
Make Yourself Feel Sexy
Many women find that their appearance changes after menopause and this can leave them feeling less attractive.
Combat negative self-image by stepping up your self-care routine or treating yourself to luxurious products. A change of hairstyle, new clothes, or sexy underwear can all work wonders too.
Massage and Moisturize
Regularly massaging and moisturizing the vulva and vagina can help to maintain skin tone and improve blood flow. Be sure to use products that are designed for vaginal use to reduce the risk of skin irritation and infections.
Masturbation is one of the best ways to explore what gets you aroused without the pressure of partnered sex. Find out what you enjoy and use this information to guide your partner to improve your sexual satisfaction overall.
Use a natural, water-based lube to increase moisture and reduce pain. Treat oil-based lubricants with caution as they can damage condoms and increase the risk of infections.
Some women find hormone replacement therapy helpful for restoring libido. This usually involves estrogen but testosterone therapy is an option too. Women who do not wish to take medication orally can choose creams or pessaries instead. Discuss your options with a knowledgeable physician.