Loss of libido is a common symptom for women during perimenopause and menopause with studies showing that approximately 50% of women experience some loss of sexual desire. It’s also common to experience vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex as well as a reduced sex drive. Rest assured, you’re not alone if your feelings of sexual desire reduce during the menopause, it’s very normal, and there are many reasons you might not be feeling as interested in sex as you have done in the past few years.
The reason for loss of libido is complex, but the two main components are hormonal and circumstantial or life events. Many factors contribute to a woman feeling less sexual desire. Stress over life events (which often happen around the time of the menopause – problems with teenage children, children leaving home, elderly parents, work pressures), being with the same partner for 20 or so years and menopausal symptoms, weight gain, signifying the natural ageing process in a woman’s life.
The perimenopausal period, when most women first experience symptoms, is associated with fluctuation in the levels of hormones produced by the ovaries. Progesterone, oestrogen, and testosterone are all produced in various amounts by our ovaries and they are key players in libido. Testosterone is the main hormone for causing sexual desire and this declines by about 50% between the ages of 20-45 years. What makes things even harder for some women is that declining oestrogen levels can result in physical changes like vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal wall. Both can make sex uncomfortable or even painful affecting both desire and response.
Stress, worry and depression can take a toll on your sex drive, too. When you are mentally preoccupied sexual desire may take a back seat. Plus other physical symptoms including hot flushes, change in body shape and weight gain. irregular or heavy periods and fatigue aren’t exactly going to make you feel particularly sexy.
Many women consider HRT to replace the hormones associated with libido. Your doctor may be able to prescribe HRT treatment which addresses the hormone imbalance at the root of the problem. You need to talk to your doctor about your options, but if your symptoms are severe it may be the most effective treatment and is safe for women under the age of 60. If you experience vaginal dryness as a result of the menopause, your GP can prescribe oestrogen pessary treatment to alleviate the symptoms.
Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been the mainstay of treatment, a more holistic approach to loss of libido is our recommended approach and can include the following:
Lubrication: Using a natural vaginal moisturising gel can help to alleviate vaginal dryness, like YES which is organic and pH balanced.
Vaginal Laser Technology: FemiLift Vaginal Laser technology available at the Harper Clinic helps to restore vaginal strength, elasticity and lubrication.
Diet: A diet high in sugar, saturated fat, and processed food may not directly affect your libido, but it will influence how you feel physically and how you see yourself on an emotional and psychological level. To feel energised, eat a balanced diet especially one rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Supplements: Gingko and ginseng supplements may help as well as fenugreek. Maca has also historically been used to boost female sexual desire.
Exercise: Studies show that 20 minutes of exercise per day can make you feel happier and have greater feelings of energy and general well-being. If you feel good about yourself you’re more likely to feel more attractive and therefore sexy.
Communication: Maintaining an honest and open discussion is the most important thing you can do. You and your partner need to continue to communicate physically and emotionally. Explain why you’re not feeling up to your usual self in the bedroom. Don’t hide your feelings or bottle things up – get it out in the open!
“Reduced sex drive and sexual satisfaction during menopause is caused by a combination of physical and emotional reasons,” says Dr Shahzadi Harper. “But the physical problems such as vaginal dryness and pain during sex virtually all stem from declining oestrogen levels, not just in the menopause but in perimenopause. Unless addressed with treatment, sexual problems can become the new norm. Don’t hold back, talk to your GP and take the steps you need in order to get your sex drive back.”
If you are at all unsure about managing your menopause symptoms it is important you speak to your GP or call Dr Harper on 0207 637 8820 or email to book a consultation. To find out more about FemiLift Vaginal Laser Treatment click here or call us now to book an appointment. Your local GP surgery might be oversubscribed so make sure you make the most of your 10 minute appointment by downloading and filling out our Menopause symptom checker, it’s a great way to get the conversation started. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.