Menopause’s many effects on sex drive


Menopause’s many effects on sex drive

The changes a woman faces when going through menopause are much more than just having her period stop permanently.  Symptoms and side effects associated with menopause range from depression, difficulty sleeping, thinning hair, weight gain, and anxiety.  There is also another possible symptom women can experience and that is reduced sex drive and desire.

How menopause affects libido

Sexual problems in postmenopausal women are common.  A review in Obstetrics and Gynecology found between 68 and 86.5 percent of women report some kind of sexual issue affecting a woman’s libido after menopause. 

There are several contributing factors which can lead to menopause getting in the way of a woman’s desire for sex.  One cause is the reduced production of the hormone estrogen.  Low estrogen levels can result in reduced blood flow to the vagina causing the tissues of the vagina and labia to become thinner.  When this occurs, these areas of a woman’s body will be less sensitive to sexual stimulation.

When blood flow to the vagina is reduced, another sexual side effect is a reduction in lubrication in the vagina and overall arousal.  This can lead to uncomfortable or painful sex making it difficult to achieve orgasm and less enjoyable for women.

Hormone levels will fluctuate during perimenopause and menopause causing a woman to feel like she is riding an emotional roller coaster.  This flip-flopping of hormonal uncertainty can affect a woman’s mental health which in turn can cause a nosedive in her libido.

Stress is another factor leading to a lack of interest in sex.  For many women, menopause arrives at a time in their lives when she may be juggling a job while caring for children/grandchildren and elderly parents.  Not only can women be dealing with daily stress causing irritability but also the hormonal ups and downs as her body changes into a new phase of life.

On top of what has already been mentioned, women who experience hot flashes, anxiety, trouble sleeping, or fatigue - all common side effects associated with menopause - are more likely to have little interest in sex according to an article published in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Additional factors contributing to reduced libido can include any history of a chronic health condition such as heart disease or diabetes, a history of smoking, or lack of physical activity.

Steps to improve libido associated with menopause

Even though it may sound all doom and gloom in regards to sex after menopause, there are several steps a woman can take to not let that happen.  Sex drive can be increased returning to a satisfying and frequent sex life.  Here’s how:

·      If perimenopause or menopause is having a significant impact on sexual activity, a woman should speak to her doctor.  They can recommend changes in health habits as well as discuss whether prescription medications may help relieve symptoms. They can also rule out if there is an underlying medical condition contributing to low libido such as a urinary tract infection, uterine prolapse, endometriosis, or pelvic floor dysfunction.

·      Some women benefit from using over-the-counter water-soluble lubricants during sex making more comfortable. 

·      Increasing physical activity to at least 30 minutes a day may help reduce menopause-related symptoms including low libido.

·      Choosing healthy foods can enhance a woman’s overall sense of well-being.

·      Women can try mixing up their normal sexual routine.  Spend more time on foreplay, use vibrators to enhance sexual intimacy, or engage in a sexual activity without focusing so much on orgasm.

·      Couples should do stress-relieving activities like having a date night, taking a walk together, or going on a day trip.

·      Practice Kegel exercises daily to strengthen pelvic floor muscles helping to heighten sensations during sex. Regular Kegel workouts lead to more enjoyable sex of easier arousal, stronger orgasms, and overall more pleasure.