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
Aiding Arousal And Orgasm
Both arousal and orgasm depend on a complex array of psychological and physical factors. Issues that reduce libido can also affect arousal and orgasm. In addition, when blood flow to the genitals and pelvis is diminished or nerves are damaged, it can be difficult to achieve either. Identifying and addressing lifestyle factors may increase your sexual response. These are the most common physical factors impeding arousal and orgasm:
Alcohol. Although a glass of wine might enhance your libido, heavy drinking can make it difficult to achieve orgasm.
Health conditions. Diseases that affect blood flow and nerve function, including diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, can reduce sexual responsiveness.
Medication. Drugs to lower blood pressure can delay or prevent orgasm. Antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, can also impede orgasm.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that the following may be helpful in stimulating arousal and orgasm:
Zestra. A massage oil that creates a sensation of warmth throughout the genital area, Zestra increased desire, arousal, and satisfaction in 70% of the women enrolled in clinical trials required for FDA approval. It is available over the counter for around $10.
Use It On Your Nongenital Erogenous Zones
Vibes arent just for your bits.
They can also be used to stimulate and turn on your other erogenous zones, like your neck, armpits, inner thigh, and feet.
You might feel silly using a vibrator on your arms and legs at first, says Carly S. But its a really great way to get to know your toy and prep your whole body for play.
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Run Your Hands Gently Through Her Hair
The scalp is one of the more neglected areas on the body during physical intimacy.
That being said, it remains an especially sensitive area and, when stimulated, is guaranteed to increase arousal.
Run your hands through your partners hair, ensuring that your fingertips come in contact with the scalp.
Be sure to move slowly in order to reduce the possibility of accidentally pulling or tugging on hair, which can become painful and uncomfortable.
Use your fingernails to gently caress the top of your partners head, ensuring that you come into contact with the entirety of the scalp.
This functions as an excellent precursor to further foreplay.
Each Woman Is Different So Make Sure To Experiment
The final important point is that there are simply too many erogenous zones to list that are sensitive for a lot of women.
Pretty much all women respond very positively when you try to turn them on physically by touching their breasts, nipples, vulva, neck, earlobes, and ass. But when it comes to the other erogenous zones, you have to actually experiment to find out if your particular girl is sensitive to them.
Thats because virtually every single part of a womans body can be very sensitive to the touch. And for each girl its very specific and very different.
So the best advice of how to arouse a woman by touching her would be to try everything you can think of and see what she responds to the most.
So get somewhere more private with her and simply explore each others bodies. Cuddling is perfect for learning what erogenous zones your girl has apart from the very obvious ones.
Dont be afraid to run your hands or your lips, very gently, over various parts of her body when youre at your place or hers and are about to have sex. Women will appreciate this greatly. Especially if you happen to stumble upon and find some very sensitive places that arouse them.
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What If You Want To Get Pregnant After You’ve Hit Menopause
Okay, so let’s say you’ve already hit menopausemeaning you haven’t had a period in 12 months or morebut you would still like to get pregnant. Luckily, if that’s your choice, science is on your side through a process called in vitro fertilization .
According to the US National Library of Medicine;, IVF is essentially the joining of a woman’s egg with a man’s sperm, outside of the woman’s body . In women who are of childbearing age, there are five steps to IVF: stimulation, egg retrieval, insemination and fertilization, embryo culture, and embryo transfer. However, because women who have already gone through menopause are not producing eggs, they do not need to go through the first two steps, and will instead have to use eggs from a donor.;
From there, it’s like any other IVF pregnancy: Once a fertilized egg divides and become an embryo outside of the body, per the NLM, it’s placed inside the woman’s womb, where she can carry the embryo, then fetus, to term.;
The bottom line: If you havent yet reached menopause but are perimenopausal, you can definitely still get pregnant. But if youve already hit menopause when you decide you want to consider motherhood, its not necessarily too late” for that, either.;
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Communicate With Your Partner
Focus on communication and intimacy. Keep in mind that talking about sex really should be the same as talking about any challenging issue in a relationship. Dr. Propst suggests describing how you feel about certain situations rather than making accusations against your partner if you are having a debate. Find time and a neutral place and talk about a goal of making sex enjoyable for both of you.
Also be honest with yourself, she says. Ask yourself if there are things going on in your life or in your relationship that keep you from wanting to have sex with your partner. A lack of desire is often related to relationship issues. Dr. Propst adds that relationship roadblocks tend to affect women more than men when it comes to sex. If you cannot find solutions on your own, a therapist may be able to help you and your partner.
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How To Increase Libido After Menopause Naturally
There are ways to increase libido after menopause naturally. The cessation of menstruation due to a decrease in the production of female hormones, known as menopause, is for many women one of the most feared life stages. The annoying symptoms represent big changes in the lives of those who experience them. Those can also affect their partners as they often notice a sexual appetite. But at OneHowTo.com we want to give you some tips so you know how to increase libido after menopause naturally.
Hot Flashes And Sleep Problems
One cause of menopause-related sleeplessness is hot flashes. Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone that occur during perimenopause and menopause can cause hot flashes in about 85 percent of American women. When they strike during the night, they can wreak havoc on sleep, explains Michael Decker, PhD, RN, an associate professor of nursing and a sleep disorder specialist at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Typically, hot flashes that occur during the night can be associated with drenching night sweats that lead to awakening from sleep. Some women even have to change clothes or bed linens. This amount of activity occurring in the middle of the night makes it difficult to resume sleep, resulting in insomnia, Decker adds.
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Where Does This Misconception Stem From
The idea that its impossible to orgasm once you hit menopause likely relates to the fact that many people do have more difficulty achieving climax once the menopausal transition begins.
Its also common to have less interest in sex in general, so you might stop prioritizing sex or making time for it at all.
This myth might also have something to do with outdated and completely inaccurate ideas about sexuality. Menopause, of course, marks the end of childbearing years and the transition into middle age and older adulthood. To some, this change might suggest an end of sexual desirability.
Yet, contrary to what others may believe or suggest, sex and continued sexual pleasure in middle and older age is typical, healthy, and absolutely possible.
Any of the menopausal changes you experience can make orgasming more of a challenge. But changes in sex drive and sexual pleasure usually relate to a combination of factors.
Lgbtqia+ And Sex During Menopause
A person born with ovaries will experience menopause, but the experience may vary, depending on their gender identity.
If the person undergoes surgery to remove the ovaries before midlife, the effects of menopause will start to appear soon after the procedure. Effects may be more abrupt and feel more severe than with natural menopause, as they will not develop gradually. Male hormone supplements may either reduce or complicate these effects.
Females in same-sex couples who experience menopause naturally at midlife may find that their partner can offer positive support regarding changing sexual emotions and activity. According to some research , however, same-sex couples may also find that stigma and societal pressures add to their stresses and make it harder to access support.
People who were assigned male at birth but have transitioned to female may use hormone therapy for life. As long as they continue treatment, menopause-type effects should be limited. Their libido is unlikely to change due to hormonal fluctuations, but age-related changes may still affect it.
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Biological 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 estrogenas well as progesterone and, potentially, testosteronecan 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.
So what can be done?
Signs Of Female Arousal
What are the signs of female arousal? There are many. In this article, we outline surprising female arousal facts. Read to learn more of these signs.
What are the signs of female arousal? There are many. From the deepening of the vagina to a release of a cocktail of pheromones, the body sure is busy during sexual arousal.
In this article, we outline surprising female arousal facts.â
First, letâs talk briefly about arousal. Arousal is the physiological response to sexual excitement. As opposed to the emotional urge for intimate sexual connection, known as desire. There are four stages to arousal:
- Excitement: the beginning stages of feeling turned on.
- Plateau: the height of arousal, right before orgasm.
- Orgasm: the pleasurable peak of the sexual response cycle.
- Resolution: after an orgasm, the body relaxes to bask in the feel-good hormones that have been released into the body.
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Assessing Sexual Function During And After Menopause
Vaginal symptoms of menopause rarely resolve spontaneously. However, there are a range of effective treatments available. While treatment is effective in improving sexual function for most post-menopausal women , only around 25% of women who experience sexual dysfunction as a result of menopause seek treatment. There is therefore a considerable portion of menopausal women who could benefit from treatment. Women who experience menopausal sexual symptoms should be proactive in initiating discussions about their symptoms and possible treatments with their doctor.
The assessment of post-menopausal sexual dysfunction is undertaken from a bio-psycho-social perspective, that is, recognising that biological, psychological and social factors all influence womens sexuality. This usually means that the womans partner is involved in the assessment and treatment process, as factors relating to the partner heavily influence the sexual functioning of the female partner.
When a menopausal woman reports sexual symptoms to a doctor, the doctor will typically begin investigating the symptoms by taking a detailed sexual and medical history. That involves asking lots of questions about the womans health and sexuality, now and in the past. The doctor will typically enquire about:
A physical examination may also be conducted, particularly if the womans sexual complaints include painful sexual intercourse or arousal difficulties.
How To Improve Your Sex Drive After Menopause
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 doesnt 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.;
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Erogenous Zones Become Very Sensitive To Stimulation
The word âerogenousâ is derived from the Greek words “eros” and “genous” . These are mega-sensitive âlove producingâ areas of the body that are sensitive to touch, especially when sexually aroused. For a woman, her erogenous zones are the nape of the neck, ears, scalp, inner wrists, lower back, stomach, fingertips, butt, nipples, clitoris, g-spot . These zones become particularly sensitive when aroused. When turned on, just grazing these erogenous zones can be stimulating.
Why Do Sexual Feelings Change After Menopause
Hormonal changesSexual feelings change in the peri-menopausal period and persist post-menopause due to hormonal changes. Prior to menopause, the ovaries produce the majority of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone in a womans body. As ovarian hormone production ceases post-menopause, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels decline.
Oestrogen largely regulate vaginal function , while testosterone affects the functioning of the vulva. Reduced hormone levels in the menopausal period therefore affect the function of the vagina and vulva.
Physiology of the vagina
The vagina is a complex structure, consisting of several layers, a fibrous outer layer or rough skin cells, a middle muscular layer and smooth inner layer of skin cells known as the epithelium. The majority of the bodys cells which utilise and have their function regulated by oestrogen and progesterone are found in the vagina. The cells of the vulva comprise the majority of the bodys cells which utilise and are regulated by testosterone.
In the pre-menopausal period when levels of oestrogen and other hormones are high, the vagina is characterised by:
- Relatively high blood flow;
- A thicker epithelium, that is a thicker layer of smooth skin cells;
- Greater acidity; and
- Increased lubrication.
The changes to hormone production which occur at menopause, and particularly the rapid decline in oestrogen production, cause the skin and muscles cells of the vagina and vulva to deteriorate.
Vaginal blood flow
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Sexual Dysfunction And Age
Multiple factors determine female sexuality and libido. These include the health of the individual, her physical and social environment, education, past experiences, cultural background, and her relationship with her partner. Sex and sexuality after the age of 60 years may be affected by both individual physical changes of aging as well as the physical changes of aging in her partner. Therefore, with age comes a decrease in sexual activity. Aged women may be more concerned about problems related to intimacy, dyspareunia, decreased arousal and response, decreased frequency of sex, and loss of sexual desire., The incidence of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women is well over 80%. A recent survey of 833 menopausal women, aged 45 to 60 years, revealed that 38% of them expressed concern about changes in sexual function to their physicians.
Initial studies report a decline in sexual activity in women as they age that is associated with a decline in subjective and objective health ratings, with an added incremental decline associated with the menopausal transition. One study confirmed that sexual activity in women and men decreases with age, and is highly dependent on marital status.