A loss of libido, interest in sex or sexual desire is a fairly common part of menopause. It becomes a problem when it leads to frustration and wreaks havoc on your relationship.
A number of factors affect libido, but you shouldn’t worry that the flame has gone out forever. For some women, it actually burns brighter after menopause. But like every good fire, you need to stoke it…
Why do so many women lose interest in sex when menopause sets in? There are both psychological and physical reasons for a loss of libido:
- Psychological: when a woman has no emotional interest in sex
- Physical: vaginal dryness, for example, can make sex painful, so desire fades (logically)
And yes, a drop in reproductive hormones is again the root cause. An estrogen decifiency leads to vaginal dryness, making sex more complicated and possibly painful. Longer foreplay is sometimes needed to get the juices flowing. This same estrogen deficiency causes hot flashes and night sweats, which, despite being “hot,” do not fan the flames of lust. In fact, they do the opposite. It’s not during your hot flashes that you’re going to want to cuddle up with someone. Hot flashes affect you psychologically too. Let’s be honest: you probably don’t feel at your most attractive when you’re all red and sweating profusely.
What’s more, the other free-falling hormone, progesterone, usually stimulates the secretion of testosterone (yes, women have it too), which drives sexual desire.
Other factors can also affect women’s libido during and after menopause:
Good news! For some women, the flames of desire grow stronger after menopause. This might be explained by the fact that there’s no more risk of pregnancy, or maybe simply that the children are older, which means more “alone” time for you and your partner.
Cardiovascular exercise is an excellent way to boost your sex drive because, in addition to increasing endurance, it causes a whole series of chemical reactions in the body. Among other things, your glands secrete:
- endorphins, the happiness hormones
- serotonin, which relieves symptoms of depression
- dopamine, the motivation and reward hormone
When you play sports regularly, you feel better about yourself and have more energy, two factors that influence libido.
Spend more time with your partner! When intimacy goes out the window, so does your libido. Communication is essential to developing (or re-establishing) close emotional ties and creating that special spark. If you do activities with your partner, like jogging or walking, you’re killing two birds with one stone.
Relax! When you’re too stressed, everything else goes wrong. If you feel that this may be the key to your problem, you need to learn to manage your stress before you can set to work on your libido. Some plants, especially flowering oat (avena sativa), which is a nerve tonic, can help you relieve stress while also improving your libido.
Adjust your diet to include soy, magnesium and protein, which are thought to be good libido-boosters.
If needed, use a water-based lubricant to make sex more comfortable.
Try sage to reduce the number and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats… and to make yourself want to rekindle the flame.
After all, isn’t it nicer to cuddle up with your partner than with an air conditioner?