Most women continue to enjoy a happy and satisfying sex life in the years leading up to, during and after menopause, but a significant minority experience problems that prevent them from remaining as sexually active as they would like to be. A decrease in libido is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of ‘the change’, with between 20% and 45% of women complaining of a loss of sex drive during this stage of their lives. Having to cope with depression, hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and insomnia; it is no surprise that so many women have things other than sex on their minds during menopause. The good news is, with some simple treatments and a little patience and understanding from your partner, many of these problems can be overcome and sex can remain as good as it was before.
Why do women lose their sex drive during menopause?
Like all of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, fluctuating hormone levels are the primary factor behind loss of libido. The main culprits are estrogen, which improves sensitivity during sex, progesterone, which keeps your libido steady, and testosterone, the male sex hormone, which heightens sexual desire and produces the natural vaginal lubrication that makes sex comfortable. As levels of each of these hormones drop during menopause, so does your overall sex drive.
The physical and emotional symptoms that commonly accompany menopause often don’t put you in the right mood for sex either. These include:
Declining levels of estrogen during menopause are thought to inhibit blood flow to your pelvis, leading to a thinning of the vaginal walls, and a decrease in lubrication during intercourse. This can cause sex to become uncomfortable and even unbearably painful for some women.
The physical and emotional changes of menopause can leave a lot of women feeling drained, with little energy left for sex.
Many women experience some form of mild or moderate depression during menopause. These emotional changes can really cause your sex drive to drop.
The way you feel about your body has a major impact on how confident you feel sexually. Many women experience changes to their weight, breasts and sex during menopause which can make them feel self-conscious and case them to shy away from intimacy.
There are a number of treatment options available for women who are unhappy with their lowered sex drive after menopause.
- Lubricants: Using a water based lubricant can reduce discomfort and pain during intercourse.
- Hormone Creams: Specially formulated creams that contain estrogen can be used to encourage blood flow to the vagina and improve sensitivity.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Although HRT will not have a direct impact on your libido, it can provide relief from some of the other symptoms of menopause which may be causing you to avoid intimacy. However, HRT has become increasingly controversial in recent years with new research linking the treatment to heart disease and stroke.
- Curcuma comosa – Many Asian experts consider medicinal herb Curcuma comosa to be the perfect natural alternative to HRT. The plant has been shown to provide effective relief from many of the symptoms of menopause that can overcomplicate your sex life, while its natural estrogenic effect can give a much needed boost to your libido.