Do you feel like your libido has taken a hike in menopause?
Maybe you have had a hysterectomy and you now feel nothing?
For many women going through menopause, whether naturally or as a result of a hysterectomy, experience little or no libido and is one of the biggest concerns I hear about after hot flashes and night sweats.
This very distressing challenge that many women face during the “change” is often not talked about and many women suffer in silence.
With low libido often comes a lack of intimacy they once had with their partner. It can also be a source of great tension in a relationship particularly when their partner’s libido is ready for action.
Just because you are going through menopause does not mean that you have to accept that losing your libido is part of the deal. It does not have to be. All humans have a deep desire for connection and intimacy throughout their entire life.
There are several factors that can reduce the female sex drive, and fortunately there is hope! Not surprisingly hormone imbalance is the most common cause of lower sex drive. Lack of estrogen can cause vaginal dryness. Needless to say this can be torture for women during intercourse. That alone can turn you off from wanting to have sex. Progesterone and testosterone can lessen your desire to have sex and to reach an orgasm.
Another hormone that can be affected in menopause, is your oxytocin level. According to Live Science article dated June 4, 2015, Oxytocin is known as the “cuddle hormone” and is released when people snuggle. Other activities such as playing with your dog, hugging, and social bonding can help oxytocin. Oxytocin is particularly important to women.
In a study from 2017 which monitored women’s oxytocin level, it was found that those women who were unable to have an orgasm would experience no change in oxytocin level as compared to women who were able to experience an orgasm. However when the women with no change in their oxytocin level were given oxytocin via a nasal spray, they saw improvement in their sexual function.
Another reason for low libido is, you are just plain burned out from the demands of their everyday life. Years of chronic stress can take its toll. This may result in low cortisol that leads to chronic fatigue and lower libido.
As women enter perimenopause and menopause, hormones can fluctuate significantly and result in estrogen dominance followed by estrogen deficiency. These hormonal fluctuations are often accompanied by other symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain. Women often just don’t feel sexy when experiencing these things. It is interesting to note that human females need their own pheromones (sexual arousal and attraction) to feel turned on. If the pheromones aren’t there and the oxytocin is not there, it’s more difficult to be in the mood.
Therefore, it is pretty clear that hormone changes can contribute to the loss of your libido. So where do you start? You can start by getting your hormones tested. This is something I can help you with.
Aside from getting your hormones evaluated, some additional causes of reduced sex drive in women may include:
- Stress – Stress is one of the major causes of lack of sex drive for women. When a woman is suffering from stress, her body is robbed of many of the essential building blocks it uses to produce hormones. When you are over-stressed, your body will try to protect itself and conserve energy rather than seeking pleasure.
- Appropriateness – Some women have been given the impression that once you get to “a certain age” your sex life is over. It’s no longer appropriate to consider yourself a sexual being. Don’t buy it. Your sexuality is a state of mind. We are sexual beings and that does not have to change when you reach a certain age or phase in life.
- Diet – Poor nutrition or very low-fat diets are horrible for sex drive. The body needs lipids (found in healthy fats) to make hormones. Driving cholesterol down too low can speed the aging process as your body will be starved of what it needs to make your hormones. What you feed your body nutritionally will have a direct impact on your energy and your sex drive.
- Issues with Spouse/Partner – Sometimes the stress of a relationship that isn’t working well dampens sexual desire. Often this happens after years and years when the woman finally enters perimenopause or menopause and her feelings about “how life should be” begin to change. Behavior that was tolerated in the past is now resented. Menopause is a time of reflection. You are tired of settling, making compromising or living in a situation that no longer serves you. Many women will exit relationships at this time or refuse to have intercourse if they choose to remain is a strained relationship.
- Physical Changes – As women age, changes take place in the vagina causing thinning and dryness. This can cause pain during intercourse, so a woman may begin to dread sex because of the pain. This is where you want to talk to your partner, but also your health care provider. There are options to help relieve vaginal dryness and also finding other ways to enjoy the pleasure of sex.
- Being Single – Some women find themselves being single after ending a relationship and the prospect of dating is just too overwhelming. So they avoid it and give up on having a sex life. Or they may become so excited that they are finally out of a bad relationship that they feel “free” to try out several relationships searching for something and end up without. Take time to love yourself before seeking it outside of yourself.
Ok, you might be thinking, great tips, but is there a pill I can take? The first step is to consider working with a functional medicine practitioner who can help you look at root cause.
For women, rediscovering your sex drive isn’t impossible. There is hope and you can regain your sex drive and enjoy sex again. You want to first look for the root cause instead of just covering up symptoms. Getting your hormones tested and you want to be evaluated to make sure you don’t have any under lying health conditions that may be contributing to your low sex drive that has taken a hike.
Communication is very, very important. Your partner can’t read you mind. Your partner probably has no idea what’s going on. Be open and honest. Let your partner know what your needs are.
Working a functional practitioner, like myself, to help you navigate a safe route to reclaiming your hormone balance and to finding your lost libido and sex drive that have taken a hike is a great place to start.
Sex drive is an important part of human life. We are meant to enjoy sex well into our golden years. If you are suffering from a waning sex drive, let me help you.
Visit me at www.pathtohealthandhealing.com.
I want to invite you to join the Menopause Sisterhood Facebook group for more support.