Our desire for sex can increase and decrease throughout different stages of our life. Can menopause impact our libido? The short answer is, yes, so if you feel like you have lost interst in passion and pleasure recently you’re not alone. Up to 55% of menopausal women report having a reduced libido, making it one of the most common psychosexual symptoms associated with menopause.
However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s sexual experience and the journey are incredibly personal to them. There are actually some women that report an increased sex drive during perimenopause, so a loss of libido is not necessarily inevitable for this stage of life. However if you have noticed a lull in sexual desire since entering menopause, it’s likely that it has more to do with your symptoms than your relationship or sexuality.
Why does menopause reduce your libido?
There are a multitude of factors that combine to cause a loss of libido during perimenopause and menopause. Identifying which factors are affecting you personally can help you find the right route of support.
Estrogen and testosterone are two of the most important hormones when it comes to libido - and they both decline as we age. Whilst testosterone is often thought of as a male hormone, it actually plays a role in sexual arousal. By the time we reach menopause our testosterone levels are at half of their peak. Estrogen and testosterone work in harmony to heighten our libido and encourage us to have sex. Estrogen not only mentally stimulates us, but it also keys to heightened sensitivity and sexual pleasure, so as its levels decline during menopause we become less receptive to sexual stimulation.
Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of hormonal changes during menopause - and is also a real passion (and pleasure) killer. Decreasing levels of estrogen can cause a reduced blood supply to the vagina. This can make it harder for you to become naturally lubricated when aroused, which means sex can feel uncomfortable, even if mentally you’re engaged and excited! The reduced estrogen can also lead to a thinning of the vaginal walls - called vaginal atrophy. The combination of vaginal dryness and atrophy can make sex feel uncomfortable, at best - and painful, at worst. When something you are supposed to enjoy becomes a source of pain, it’s understandable that your body encourages you to avoid it, as a form of self-protection.
Other menopause symptoms
But it isn’t just the symptoms that affect our intimate areas that can impact libido. Hot flushes and insomnia can leave us feeling too tired for sex and resistant to bedtime cuddles that offer a potential window of intimacy. Experiencing mental health issues - like depression and anxiety, both of which are common during menopause - can also have a detrimental effect on sexual desire. Other physical changes that can occur during this phase of life, such as weight gain and incontinence, can also become a barrier to confidence and pleasure.
How to improve your libido during menopause
Each symptom of menopause contributes to a perfect storm that can stop us from feeling connected to both ourselves and our partner - but this doesn’t have to be something you simply accept as the new normal. There are many ways you can improve you can boost your libido and improve your sex life.
Start with reconnecting with yourself
We all too often turn to external sources, or people, when looking for pleasure. However, what many women, of all ages, don’t realise is that feeling connected with our bodies is imperative if we are to truly experience pleasure - sexual or otherwise. Spending time exploring your own sensuality can reawaken your nervous system and your libido and
During menopause, a lack of confidence and loss of control can also cause us to feel completely disconnected from our sense of self. When this happens we can become numb to pleasure - be that from our sexual partner or simply other positive feelings we experience. A little self-care and self-love can go a long way to reigniting that spark within yourself!
Nurturing your relationship during menopause
Whilst improving your relationship with yourself can have a transformative effect on your sexual experience, it’s only one part of the puzzle. You may find yourself shying away from talking to your partner about sex when things don’t feel right. But avoidance will only drive the space between you wider. Being open and honest about your feelings can be a hugely bonding experience and heightened emotional intimacy will often lead to improved sexual connection too.
It’s also important to remember that, like the hormones in our body, the different elements of our relationship work in harmony and impact each other. If there are issues outside the bedroom, it’s likely that you will see a knock-on effect on your sex life. The arrival of menopause can bring a whole host of negative emotions into your home - including stress, and anxiety - so it could be that as a couple, you are feeling emotionally drained and distant. Take time to reconnect and nurture that bond. Get out of the house, go on that date, plan a weekend way and remind yourselves why you fell in love in the first place!
Address the pain
Dealing with the mental and emotional side is important, but if you are experiencing pain during sex, you are going to struggle to increase your libido. One of the most effective ways of tackling painful sex during menopause is to deal with vaginal dryness. Vagivital’s Active Gel not only offers immediate relief from irritation and dryness but also helps to reinforce the vagina’s skin barrier and lock in moisture for long-term hydration. 44% of women who use Vagivital said they became more sexually active - so it certainly can help give your libido a boost!
You can find more advice on how to deal with painful intercourse here.
A loss of libido doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of menopause, and it’s possible to live and happy and healthy sex life as you get older. Focus on nurturing your physically, emotional and mental health and pain-free pleasure will follow!