Of all the changes that happen during and after menopause, a diminished sex drive might be the most complex. Of course, many factors can impact your libido and sexual activity during all stages of life, including physical, emotional, psychological, and social variables. While all those factors can come into play, hormones often lie at the heart of diminished sex drive after menopause. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a permanent state of affairs; where there are hormonal causes, there are possible hormonal solutions to improve your sex drive after menopause.
Menopause can be a challenging time, and losing your sex drive can make it even more emotionally complicated. With the right tools, you can take charge of your body to reclaim your sexual wellness.
Biological (and Other) Causes of Diminished Sex Drive After Menopause
There are a lot of reasons why sex drive fluctuates during the course of your life. Stress at work, a lack of connection with your partner, boredom, body image concerns, depression or other mental health issues, or, sometimes, just being too busy. After menopause, though, there are often significant physical and hormonal reasons for diminished desire. Even if you want to want to have sex, you might just not be feeling it.
The primary cause of this is lowered estrogen production. As noted by experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine:
This change has a huge impact on your sexual function. It can lower desire and make it harder for you to become aroused. It can also make the vaginal canal less stretchy and you may experience dryness, which can cause intercourse to be painful. More than a third of women in perimenopause, or who are postmenopausal, report having sexual difficulties, from lack of interest in sex to trouble having an orgasm.
In other words, the drop in estrogen—as well as progesterone and, potentially, testosterone—can produce multiple effects that intertwine to reduce your interest or even your ability to have sex. If sex is less immediately pleasurable, it can be more mentally challenging to be up for it. If there are underlying hormonal reasons for being less interested, it can make sex even less desirable. These effects can snowball, and sex can stop being an important and rewarding part of your life.
For some people and some couples, that is ok. Life is about evolving, and many people and partnerships don’t feel that sex after a certain age is crucial to their connection. But for others, that lack of intimacy can be frustrating, hurt your relationship, and have a profound impact on your sense of self.
So what can be done?
Improving Sex Drive After Menopause
Everyone’s sex drive is a combination of complex internal and external factors, so it wouldn’t be useful to say “this is what you should do.” Your sex life is yours alone. But here are some ideas to explore.
- Exercise. Maintaining a healthy heart and promoting circulation can help improve blood flow even when you are not exercising, making arousal easier. It can also improve your stamina and provide important mental health benefits, such as elevating mood and helping you feel good about yourself.
- Diet. A healthy diet supports all body functions, not to mention giving you more energy.
- Lifestyle. Excess drinking, tobacco use, and other bad health habits are known to damage sex drive. Minimizing or eliminating these behaviors may help you recapture your libido. Ensuring that you get enough rest is also critical.
- Stress. Decreasing stress is good for every part of your life, including your sex drive. In fact, acute and chronic stress are leading causes of diminished sexual desire. When you remove the weight of the world from your shoulders, you have more time to focus on yourself.
- Communicate. If you are in a relationship, communicate with your partner about how you are feeling. Talking honestly about where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there often makes everyone feel better, alleviates confusion, and prevents hurt feelings.
- Define sex differently. Sex doesn’t always have to be a form of penetration. There are many ways for couples to enjoy each other without activities that might be painful or no longer bring you pleasure. Finding new ways to have fun takes some of the pressure away and makes sex more inviting.
Of course, all of this is all well and good, but if your lack of desire is caused by low estrogen levels, these won’t truly solve the problem (though they all might help!). In these cases, addressing the root of the problem may be the best way to go.
Getting to the Root of the Issue
For women who have experienced menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often the most preferred way to restore libido. By using exogenous hormones to try and bring your hormone levels back to where they once were, HRT aims to reawaken your desire and address many of the menopause symptoms that may be interfering with your sex life, including:
For many women, the best approach is combining HRT with a holistic sexual wellness program that offers customized, multi-faceted support.
Sex is a combination of the physical and the mental, the tangible and emotional. When the physical is off, it makes it harder for everything else to fall into place. This is common among women after menopause, but it doesn’t have to be. By learning more about your treatment options, that can get you started on the path toward a reinvigorated sex life.
If you want more information about improving your sex drive after menopause, BodyLogicMD wants to help. The expert practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network can assess your needs and design a personalized Sexual Wellness plan to support your health goals—from virtually anywhere. Set up your telemedicine consultation, or take the Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about the programs offered by BodyLogicMD.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.