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How Does Menopause Affect Sex Drive

How Does Menopause Affect Sexual Function In Women

Sex Drive and Menopause

Just as every women experiences menopause differently, women may or may not experience changes in sexual function after menopause. Since estrogen levels are lower after menopause, some women may notice that their libido, or sex drive, is decreased. Low estrogen levels can also lead to a decreased blood flow to the vagina, resulting in difficulty with lubrication or in dryness which that can make sexual intercourse less pleasant and painful for many women.

Not all women report negative changes in sexual function after menopause. For example, some women may find sex to be more pleasurable without the fear of unwanted pregnancy or without the potential stresses of having small children.

Tacking Loss Of Sex Drive With Hormone Therapy

As every woman is unique, so are her hormones. Therefore at the Marion Gluck Clinic, we take a holistic approach accessing hormone balance, lifestyle and nutrition to develop a bespoke treatment plan for each client. However, the 2 main ways we tackle sex drive with hormone therapy are:

  • Create Hormone BalanceAs a woman moves through each phase of menopause, hormone levels can fluctuate significantly, however, these vital hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone remain important for bones, vaginal and urethral health, skin, brain function and cardiovascular health. It is therefore important to effectively balance and replenish these hormones with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to maintain a womans health, energy, mood, brain function and sex drive.
  • Treat the area locallyWhile hormone balance will ensure that you maintain a healthy sex drive you may still need a bit of assistance locally for comfort and arousal. Therefore, we may also prescribe a hormone cream that would be applied to the vagina to increase sensitivity and stimulation.

How Menopause Can Affect Libido

Lack of Estrogen

As a woman approaches menopause, her hormonal balance begins to change. Most menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, are associated with falling estrogen levels. The hormone is also responsible for many of the libido changes that women experience around this time. For example, estrogen keeps the walls of the vagina moist and elastic. Therefore, as the hormone decreases, many women suffer from vaginal dryness and atrophy.

Less Blood Flow

Blood flow to the vagina also reduces during menopause, leading to decreased sensitivity and lubrication. These common problems can make sex uncomfortable or outright painful for some women.

Lack of Testosterone

Testosterone plays a crucial role too. This hormone is essential for boosting sexual desire and its levels fall dramatically with age.

Body Image

There are many other factors that can influence a womans sex drive during the menopausal transition. These might include negative self-image due to weight gain or the physical effects of aging. Moreover, symptoms such as night sweats and poor sleep can cause tiredness and stress, two major libido-killers.

Physical Health Conditions

Then, there are other conditions, like heart disease, diabetes and thyroid problems to consider. Furthermore, many medications can lower libido as a side effect. Its no wonder so many women struggle to get in the mood after menopause!

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Try A Prescription Cream

If youve tried over-the-counter options and youre still dry down thereor your sex drive continues to circle the draintalk to your doctor about medical treatments that can help. One possibility: low-dose estrogen vaginal creams that contain the anti-aging hormone DHA.

A cream isn’t your only option. Tablets and rings that go into the vagina and are absorbed via skin are also available. Also, a once-a-day, hormone-free drug, Osphena, has been approved by the FDA that helps thicken vaginal tissue so pain and tearing are less likely. Osphena isn’t for everyone, so if you’re considering it, check in with your ob-gyn and find out if you’re a candidate to take it.

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How Hormones Affect Sex Drive

Menopause and libido: Effects on sex drive and remedies

The main causes in the menopausal and the postmenopausal women is the loss of estrogen and testosterone that leads to changes in a womans body and sexual drive. Therefore, menopausal and postmenopausal women may notice that theyre not as easily aroused, and they may be less sensitive to touching and stroking. That can lead to less interest in sex. Also, lower levels of estrogen can cause a drop in blood supply to the vagina. That can affect vaginal lubrication, causing the vagina to be too dry for comfortable sex but theres help for that read on! The fluctuating hormones during perimenopause can also affect a womans mental health which then, in turn, may cause a decrease in libido.

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How Menopause Affects Sex Drive

The loss of estrogen that comes during and after menopause is the main physical driver behind a drop in sexual desire. But women may also lose interest in sex or have a difficult time becoming aroused because of hot flashes, weight gain, fatigue, and emotional changes. Symptoms such as vaginal dryness can also contribute to pain and problems with sexual function.

Every woman will have her own unique set of responses to menopause. The good news, however, is that;post-menopausal women respond to sexual cues similarly to pre-menopausal women; they are also more likely than pre-menopausal women to respond to love and emotional bonding cues from their partners.

In other words, not only;can;they respond sexually, they do;respond sexually, much as they did before menopause.

More Sex After Menopause

Not all people experience a reduced libido after menopause. For some people, not much changes. Others actually experience increased sex drive after menopause. What makes the difference, and which is most likely to affect you?

Some of what predicts changes in sex drive after menopause is what happens to your body, but a lot of it is about what’s going on in your world. Changes in lifestyle factorssuch as not having children at home and not having to worry about pregnancy and menstruationcan be freeing. Furthermore, that freedom can be erotic.

In general, people who are less stressed and more active after menopause are less likely to experience libido problems. That’s also true for people before menopause. A lot of the sex drive takes place in the mind. If your stress goes down after menopause, your sex drive may well go up.

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Try Some Direct Stimulation

During the menopausal transition, blood flow to the vagina and clitoris decreases. If you usually need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, well, the resulting decrease in sensitivity can make orgasm more difficult to achieve.

More difficult doesnt mean impossible! It just may take a little longer or require a new approach.

Give these tips a try:

  • Touching. Start by touching, rubbing, or stroking your clit or asking your partner to. Lube, like we mentioned above, can make a difference by reducing friction and increasing your pleasure. If youre new to direct touching, our guide to clitoral stimulation offers plenty of ideas for you and your partner to consider.
  • Oral sex.Oral sex can be a great way to get things going. It stimulates your clit, for starters, but it also offers the added bonus of lubrication.
  • Vibrators.Using a vibrator regularly, during solo or partnered sex, may help boost sensitivity and wetness and make it easier to reach orgasm.

A Woman’s Guide To Reviving Sex Drive

Lower Sex Drive in Women After Menopause

Know that old song “Where Did Our Love Go”? Many women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are asking, “Where did our sex go?”

Loss of desire is common in the years before and after menopause. Desire problems peak around ages 35 to 64.

Why? Itâs a time of life with a lot going on! Changing hormones can cause spontaneous desire –or craving sex out of the blue — to plummet.

âTo blame it all on hormones is unfair, though,â says Stephanie Faubion, MD, director of the Mayo Clinicâs Womenâs Health Clinic.

Whatâs called receptive desire — being turned on when your partner makes the first move — keeps going. At least, it can if related issues in your body, mind, or relationship — usually some mix — donât get in the way, Faubion says.

The fix for sex drive issues: Tease out the complex causes and address them.

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Less Intercourse Is Natural

Despite what the media and prescription drug commercials would have you believe, intercourse in later years often isnt as pleasurable for couples as it used to be. Thats because of bodily changes such as vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction, says Kraft. Half of women in their 50s continue having intercourse, but by their 70s only 27 percent of women are doing it.

That doesnt mean that you cant be intimate with your partner whether youre having intercourse with the help of lubricants, vaginal moisturizers or prescription drugs, or choosing other ways of staying connected.

About a third of long-term couples dont have sex or have sex only occasionally. But they dont necessarily consider that a problem. Its just where their relationships have evolved, explains Kraft. They do other things that are intimate that they enjoy like cuddling, sharing a bed and laughing together. And theyre happy.

Natural Ways To Increase Sex Drive After Menopause

Low sex drive doesnt have to be treated with hormone therapy. For patients who want to enhance their response to sexual stimulation, Dr. Vahora likes recommending supplements, like Ristela. Its accessible to patients and it doesnt come with any risk factors. I even recommend it for patients who arent having a problem and just want to make their sex lives even better, she says.

Its important to note, too, that engaging in sexual stimulation more often will help to enhance your bodys response. Having regular sex postmenopause can help stimulate blood flow to the vaginal tissues and helps keep vaginal muscles toned, both of which make sex more satisfying and more comfortable.7 The key is also communicating with your partner and giving yourself time to become aroused.

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How Common Is Sexual Dysfunction As A Side Effect Of An Ssri Medication How Can I Resolve This Issue

Unfortunately, SSRIs and other medications that treat depression can affect how you feel about sex. Our Reproductive Psychiatry team treats mood and anxiety disorders during times of hormonal transition. An appointment with an experienced psychiatrist can help you find the right type of treatment at 800.922.0000.;;

When To See A Doctor

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A woman should speak to her doctor whenever perimenopause or menopause is having a significant impact on her day-to-day activities, including sexual activity.

Sometimes, a doctor can recommend changes in health habits as well as discuss whether prescription medications may help relieve the symptoms, including a low libido.

Speaking with a doctor can also rule out any other underlying medical conditions that may cause a reduced libido. These conditions include urinary tract infections, uterine prolapse, endometriosis, or pelvic floor dysfunction.

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Why Does Menopause Affect Libido

Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause can also affect a womans mental health, which in turn, may cause a decrease in her libido.

Stress can also impact a womans libido, as she may be juggling a job, parenting, and be caring for aging parents. The changes in hormone levels a woman may experience during menopause may make her irritable or depressed, so dealing with everyday stress may feel more difficult.

According to an article published in the , women who have more significant side effects associated with menopause are more likely to report lower libido levels.

Examples of these side effects include hot flashes, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and fatigue.

Other factors that make a woman going through menopause more likely to experience a reduced libido include:

  • history of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or depression
  • history of smoking
  • engaging in low levels of physical activity

A woman should talk to her doctor about how these conditions could affect her sex drive.

There are several steps a woman can take to increase her libido. These include medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and home remedies.

Why Is Sex Painful After Menopause

Dr. Vahora notes that many of her patients experience pain or discomfort during sex, which in turn leads to less interest in sex. The pain tends to stem from declining estrogen levels, which can cause vaginal tissue to become drier, thinner, and less elastic.

The vagina and vulva are mucus membranes, she explains. When it gets dry and the skin becomes irritated from friction, its like a rug burn.

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Sex After The Menopause: The Changes

Menopause is defined as the time after a woman hasnt had a period for 12 straight months, according to the National Institute on Aging. Perimenopause is the time period that leads up to menopause in which women are already experiencing the transition to menopause, and it can last anywhere from 7 to 14 years. Most women enter menopause around the ages of 45 and 55 years old.

Common symptoms during menopause and perimenopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Dry skin, eyes, and/or mouth

Lets talk a bit more in depth about how menopause can affect sex, specifically.

Talk It Out With Your Partner

Boost Your Sex Drive! | Menopause Treatment

Even if it’s just the physical changes of menopause that are making sex painful, talking it out with your partner can help alleviate the stress and anxiety surrounding the topic. If you’re single or your partner isn’t the talky type, your ob-gyn is available to lend an ear. I always encourage women to have a good, trusted gynecological healthcare provider to speak with, Dr. Minkin says. A doctor, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner can be a valuable source of advice.

You may also want to talk to a sex therapist, who can help you be more open about what you need and want from your partner as well as reminding you that the changes you’re experiencing are perfectly normal.

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Quality Of Life Impact On Menopausal Women

Menopausal symptoms and sexual dysfunction can negatively impact quality of life for women. A higher sense of purpose in life is reported by midlife women who report higher levels of enjoyment with sexual activity . Women more likely to engage in partnered, intimate sexual activities tend to be of younger age, lower body mass index, married, and have better emotional well-being . This raises the possibility that aging women affected by obesity or single status may be at high risk for experiencing an overall decrease in quality of life. By counseling patients about the benefits of healthy diet and exercise for weight control and screening for medications and illnesses that impact sexual function, health care providers may improve overall quality of life.

Menopausal symptoms such as vasomotor symptoms and vaginal dryness negatively impact health related quality of life . Women with vaginal dryness, even if they do not identify the symptom as bothersome, have worse mental health composite scores as well as worse emotional well-being and social functioning . These data suggest that there is a need for physician vigilance and early detection so that interventions can be employed to prevent potentially debilitating effects on quality of life.

How Can I Treat Vaginal Dryness After Menopause

For vaginal dryness that causes mild discomfort during sex:

  • Use an over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricant when you have sex.

  • Try an over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer to help increase moisture. You may need to use it every few days.

For more severe vaginal dryness,;your doctor might prescribe medicines that you put into your vagina to increase moisture and sensation. These may include:

  • Vaginal estrogen creams

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How Perimenopause Affects Sex Drive

This editorial series, S-E-X, is brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog and Andrea Palmer, MD FACOG;with Fenom Womens Care.;Our friends at Womens Health Services sponsored and crafted this blog post for the S-E-X editorial series, and explained how perimenopause affects the sex drive. All 15 original articles from the S-E-X series can be found on our website.

You cant fall asleep most nights, youre exhausted at work, you feel irritable and depressed, and you have absolutely no sex drive.;What gives? Should you chalk this up to job burnout? Family stress? Financial issues?

It could actually be from something completely normal and natural: perimenopause.

Perimenopause, also called menopausal transition, occurs several years before menopause. Its the period when your ovaries gradually make less estrogen. The average length of perimenopause is four years, but this stage can last just a few months or continue for 10 years for some women. Women usually start perimenopause in their 40s, but it can also begin in their mid-30s or earlier.

Irregular periods are often the first noticeable sign of perimenopause. Other symptoms include:

  • hot flashes
  • loss of sex drive

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Menopause and sex don’t always go hand in hand. Why’s that? After menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop making estrogen, the main female sex hormone. This can be a tough adjustment, because estrogen is responsible for so many bodily functions, from bone health to steady moods to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol.

But the hardest change many women deal with has to do with the vagina. Estrogen keeps the vaginal lining elastic and moisturized, and it also helps power your libido. Without estrogen, vaginal tissues atrophy, dryness sets in, and arousal is more difficult. When you do have penetrative sex, it can hurt and even cause tearing inside the vagina.

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I see women whove gone years being told that a normal part of aging is to have pain with sex, says ob-gyn Lisa M. Valle, DO, medical director of Oasis Women’s Sexual Function Center in Santa Monica, California. By the time they come see me, thats what I hear. The fact is, theres a lot you can do.

Not all women experience painful sex after menopause. Without the fear of pregnancy, some women say they’re more relaxed during intimacy. And at this point in life, they typically don’t have young kids to take up all their time, so there’s more opportunity to enjoy the action.

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