Before we discuss loss of libido, let’s look at the brighter side of sex after menopause. Menopause means no more periods, and no more need for contraception. It comes at a time a lot of women are comfortable in their own skin, more confident, and maybe in a long-term relationship. Children have usually moved out of home, leaving you to enjoy amazing sex, both alone or partnered.
Libido is your overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. Some women can experience a loss of libido during menopause. They find that their desire for sexual activity lessens; sexual feelings and desires may be less frequent, and energy for sex declines or disappears. For some women, this loss of desire is of no concern. For others, it can affect how in touch they feel with their sexuality, or can affect their relationship with their partner.
Below are some of the physical and psychological reasons that could be behind a low or absent sex drive. We recommend consulting with your health practitioner or a sex therapist to get to the root of the issue. Loss of libido doesn’t have to be accepted, and there are lots of options available that can help immensely.
Physical Reasons behind Loss of Libido
Hormonal changes during menopause can be behind some of the physical aspects of a loss in libido. A woman’s hormone levels fluctuate during menopause and these fluctuations can cause hot flashes, night sweats, and can even cause a lower interest in sex. Estrogen declines during menopause and this causes vaginal changes that can make intercourse painful. Common vaginal changes during menopause are:
- Increased dryness
- Loss of elasticity
- Loss of sensitivity
- A shortening of the vaginal passage
When sex becomes associated with pain, it’s no wonder that you begin to lose your interest in sex. In fact, pain on penetration can actually lead to vaginismus, a condition which causes involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles, brought on by the anticipation of pain.
What you can do about physical reasons for loss of libido:
Consult with an Expert: If you are experiencing pain during intercourse or masturbation, or are worried about dryness and changes to the vagina, the first course of action is to talk with your health practitioner. They can offer advice and treatments that can help or solve physical issues behind loss of libido.
Consider hormone treatments: Your health practitioner can prescribe either systemic or local estrogen therapies that can treat and relieve some of the physical changes that come with menopause. Systemic hormone therapies include pills, patches or gels that treat the whole body. Local treatments include topical creams for the vaginal area.
Systemic estrogen therapies are at higher dosages than local topical treatments. They come with the benefit of treating other symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats, but they also come with risks that must be assessed by your health practitioner.
Lubricate against dryness: Many women find immediate relief from dryness by using a vaginal moisturizer and find that the extra lubrication improves comfort and confidence during intercourse and/or masturbation. They are widely available in drug stores and online in multiple varieties. Ideally, a water-based moisturizer is the most natural way to supplement your moisture and maintain your vaginal pH.
Practice your kegel exercises: Kegel exercises are a natural, healthy way to help regain your sexual drive. These gentle exercises offer a number of incredible benefits for women during and after menopause. You may have heard at least a little about Kegels – if not, be sure to check out our Beginners Guide to Kegel Exercises.
Performing Kegel exercises, especially with the aid of a weighted Kegel exerciser, promotes increased, healthy blood circulation to the tissues of the vagina. This leads to improved natural lubrication, increased elasticity, and an increase in your ability to feel sensations. In addition, Kegels improve your overall pelvic health, reducing your risk of incontinence and pelvic prolapse. Just 5 minutes of exercises a day can give you all these benefits.
Introduce personal massagers to your sex life: Massagers can be wonderfully helpful for boosting desire during menopause. Using personal massagers can increase circulation to the vaginal tissues, which increases natural lubrication and sensitivity. Massagers are also incredibly helpful for rediscovering what feels good when you’re alone, and can complement other solutions like topical medications or sex therapy. They can also be introduced into in the bedroom with a partner, where they can add spice and variety to your sex life-which can have the added benefit of increasing your desire for even more sex. It’s a win-win!
Psychological Reasons behind Loss of Libido
The emotional changes that can often accompany the hormonal fluctuations of menopause, including anxiety and depression, can induce a loss in libido and a weakened motivation for sexual activity.
During menopause, some women feel like their body is out of their control. Increased abdominal fat, hot flashes, drier skin, and fear of bladder leaks can make some women self conscious of their body, particularly during sex. The very fact that your body (and vagina in particular) is changing can change your sense of self and connection to your sexual side.
Relationship issues can also crop up during this time of your life. It may feel like your partner cannot understand or empathize with what you and your body are going through. Your partner may also be at an age where erectile dysfunction may occur. This, combined with your own loss of sensitivity can make sex feel less exciting, and affect your desire to have sex.
What You Can Do About Psychological Reasons Loss of Libido:
Talk: Menopause can be a tricky rollercoaster of hormone fluctuations and emotion, and talking to someone can be a huge help. Friends who are going through or have gone through menopause can be immensely supportive, and you can even consider joining menopause support forums. We recommend talking to your health practitioner about anything that may be affecting your mental wellbeing or libido. They may refer you to a sex therapist, who is a therapist that specializes in treating sexual concerns. This type of therapy can help discover the root of psychological problems behind loss of libido.
Don’t be afraid to say what feels good, and what doesn’t: By menopause, we often know what we want in sex, and you don’t need to feel shy about it. Encourage your partner by telling him what feels best for you. If something doesn’t feel good, let him know or ask him to slow down. Communication is the key, and the best sex often happens when both partners are vocal about what feels good for them.
Practice with personal massagers: Personal massagers can do more than connect you with your physical side. They allow you to discover or rediscover what feels good on an emotional level. Sometimes loss of libido during menopause can be because you don’t feel confident when being intimate with a partner. Getting in touch with your intimate side by yourself can be a way to rebuild your confidence. Take it slow, and perhaps consult with a sex therapist who can help you decide the best way to use sex aids to boost your libido.
Whether your loss of libido is based in physical or physiological issues (or both), it’s important to know that low libido doesn’t have to last. Schedule an appointment with your health practitioner today, and before you know it you’ll be having sex just like before, or maybe even better!
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.
A collective group of “lady experts” at Intimina who love sharing our personal experiences, even when they are a little too personal. We believe it’s time to start breaking down the taboos around menstruation, motherhood, and menopause, and start owning our female health.