The menopausal journey comes with a whole host of potential symptoms. Hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings are all commonplace. But one lesser talked about aspect of menopause is a loss of libido.
Many women experience a dip in their sexual desire during this transitional time. And this change can affect more than just what goes on in the bedroom. A declining libido can lead to feelings of confusion and frustration, and without proper communication, it can put a strain on relationships.
But thankfully, a lack of sexual desire doesn’t have to become a permanent problem. Many women manage to find solutions to their lagging libido, and you can, too.
In this post, we’ll explore the connection between menopause and sex drive and find out why so many of us struggle to maintain our sexual passion as our reproductive years come to an end. Then, we’ll share some tried and tested ways to reclaim your libido so that you can enjoy a fun and fulfilling sex life for many years to come.
How Does Menopause Affect Libido?
Not all women notice a decline in their sex life during their menopausal years, but many do.
The first thing to know is that this change is perfectly natural. There’s nothing wrong with you or your partner. You are simply feeling the effects of a significant and inevitable time of change.
But why does menopause make us less interested in sex? There are several reasons, including:
Like most symptoms of menopause, a lower libido is partially caused by a drop in hormones.
As women enters perimenopause (the build-up to menopause), levels of estrogen and progesterone begin to decline. Estrogen, in particular, can affect the desire for sex, so it stands to reason that when estrogen levels fall, so does libido.
Other Menopause Symptoms
During menopause, women undergo several physical changes that can stunt an otherwise healthy sex drive. These changes include:
- Vaginal atrophy and vaginal dryness
These conditions can make intercourse painful, leaving you less inclined to be intimate with your partner. They can also cause a reduction in blood flow to the vaginal tissues. This can make you less sensitive to sexual stimulation and make it harder to have an orgasm.
- Weight gain
Many women gain weight or find it harder to lose weight during menopause. This physical change can cause body image issues, affect self-esteem, and make some women reluctant to be intimate with their partners.
- Mental health problems
Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone can have an effect on your mental health. Stress, anxiety, and depression are all more likely to occur during the menopausal years. And these conditions are all known to lower libido.
Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It affects around half of all women. And unfortunately, a chronic lack of sleep can negatively impact every aspect of our lives, including our sex lives.
What Are the Symptoms of Low Libido During Menopause?
A lower-than-usual libido can manifest itself in various ways, including:
- Feeling less motivated to engage in sexual activity
- A decrease in sexual fantasies
- Spending less time thinking about sex
- Having difficulty getting aroused
- Experiencing fewer orgasms
- A decrease in vaginal lubrication
7 Solutions to Revive Your Sexual Desire During Menopause
If you’re concerned about a lagging libido, don’t panic. There are plenty of ways you can revive your sex drive and keep the spark in your relationship alive, including:
1. Regular Sex
Your libido may be lower than it once was, but the more you put off sex, the less interested in it you will become. And if the problem is left unchecked, reigniting the sexual passion in your relationship can begin to feel impossible.
So, even if you don’t feel like it, try going through the motions. More often than not, your desire will kick in eventually, and before you know it, you could be enjoying a wonderful, intimate experience with your partner.
Regular sex also maintains natural lubrication. This helps tackle the symptoms of vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy.
Keeping up an intimate relationship with your partner can be an important part of tackling a low libido during menopause, but remember, sexual pleasure doesn’t always have to be with a partner.
If you prefer, you can increase your sexual activity alone through masturbation and still reap the benefits that regular stimulation provides.
2. Schedule Sex
Between job commitments, kids, and housework, being spontaneous isn’t always easy. So, scheduling sex dates with your significant other can help you to keep the spark in your relationship alive. Whether it’s a simple half-hour at home on your lunch break or a romantic weekend away, mark it on the calendar and stick to it.
3. Try Something New
If you’ve been with your partner for a long time, your usual routine in the bedroom might be getting old. So, try swapping the tried and tested positions for something new.
If vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophy is an issue, you might even want to skip vaginal intercourse entirely and opt for an erotic alternative, such as oral sex and manual stimulation.
4. Use a Lubricant
If vaginal dryness is causing your libido to crash, a good-quality lubricant can make all the difference. Lubricants come in liquid or gel forms and can be applied directly to the genitalia to reduce friction during intercourse. This can make sex much more comfortable and increase sensations of pleasure for both you and your partner. And the more you enjoy sex, the more you’ll want to keep doing it.
5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
If you’re out of shape, undernourished, and exhausted, the last thing you’ll want to do is to have regular sex. So, it’s important to treat your body well, especially during menopause.
Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking can make a huge difference to your health. You’ll have more energy, you’ll look and feel better, and your confidence will soar. All these things can help your libido get back to pre-menopause levels so you can fully enjoy your sex life once again.
6. Practice Intimacy
Being intimate with your partner isn’t just about sexual intercourse. If sex is temporarily off the menu, there are plenty of other ways to connect and feel close to one another, such as kissing, cuddling, and holding hands.
Open and honest communication will also help to keep the spark alive in your relationship, even when your libido isn’t so high.
7. Speak to Your Doctor
If your lack of sexual desire is an ongoing problem, you might want to speak to your doctor. They can assess your symptoms and rule out any underlying causes.
Certain medications can lower your sex drive. So, your doctor should review any medications you’re currently taking to check if these are having a negative impact. If they are, they may be able to prescribe an alternative.
If mental health disorders are a factor, your doctor may suggest speaking to a therapist.
Then there are some medication therapies that are available
- Bupropion, an antidepressant sold as Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. This medication is sometimes used off-label to treat women with sexual arousal disorders.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often used to treat bothersome symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
It works by replacing the body’s depleted levels of estrogen and progesterone with synthetic versions of these hormones. Because of this, HRT can also alleviate many problems that contribute to a lack of libido, such as vaginal atrophy, vaginal dryness, mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
How to Talk to Your Doctor
Not everyone finds it easy to talk to their doctor about sex. After all, it’s an extremely personal subject. But try to remember that your doctor is there to support all aspects of your health, including your sexual health.
So, if you’re feeling uncomfortable opening up a dialogue with your doctor, you may find it easier to bring along some notes. Having your symptoms and concerns written down can help you focus on what you want to say. It also ensures you don’t forget any important elements or crucial pieces of information.
Be sure to share all of your symptoms, how long they’ve been happening, and what, if any, remedies you may have already tried.
Some women also prefer to speak with a female doctor or healthcare practitioner. This may or may not be possible depending on the health care resources in your area.
A loss of libido during menopause is much more common than many think. It affects around 20%-40% of women; however, the actual number may be even higher.
Many menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, subside once the menopausal process is complete. However, a loss of libido can stick around for several years or even be a permanent change.
That being said, some women find that their sexual desire returns once they enter the post-menopause phase.
Yes, most men notice their desire for sex wanes as they age. Research suggests that for the majority of men, this decline begins in their 60s and 70s.
Hormonal changes during menopause can lower your libido.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Menopause shouldn’t spell the end of your sexual life, there are plenty of ways to reclaim your libido and enjoy intimacy again.
The first step is to be open and honest with your partner. And, if the problem persists, seek advice from your doctor. They can assess your symptoms and find a treatment plan that works for you.
- Low Estrogen Symptoms: Identification, Treatment, and More (healthline.com)
- Dyspareunia (painful intercourse): Causes and treatment (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Menopause and insomnia: Link, duration, and remedies (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Postmenopausal Syndrome – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
- Lubricants for Menopause-Related Dryness: Pros and Cons (healthline.com)
- The Role of Bupropion in the Treatment of Women with Sexual Desire Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for Menopause | Patient