Is Menopause Lowering My Libido?

Going through menopause can affect nearly every aspect of your life, and some of the symptoms are going to be a little less visible than others. A prime example of this is how menopause can lower your sex drive, or libido, due to changing hormones and subsequent symptoms.

Many women find that romance and intimacy become harder as they progress through menopause, and it doesn’t help that the other physical and emotional symptoms that come during this time can also kill the mood.

But menopause is no reason to give up hope of maintaining a healthy sex life. In fact, there are plenty of ways that you can prevent menopause from interrupting your libido, but the first step is talking about it. So let’s talk about one of the biggest taboos around menopause: your sex drive.

Sex Drive And Menopause

Menopause can affect your sex drive and your desire to engage in sexual activity from a couple of different angles:

  • Lowered sex drive
  • Physical changes
  • Mental and emotional toll

The major change that comes with menopause is a decrease in the hormones responsible for your reproductive cycle: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. But since these hormones are intricately involved in all aspects of reproduction, the fluctuating and lowering levels can go make it harder to feel aroused. Testosterone in particular is a driving factor for libido in both men and women, so a decrease during menopause can mean that sex is one of the last things on your mind.

It can also affect your vagina: as estrogen decreases during menopause, it can affect the tissue in your vagina, making it thinner, drier, and more prone to irritation and pain during sex. You might also have decreased blood flow and a weakening pelvic floor, both of which can make it hard to experience pleasure and reach orgasm.

Finally, menopause can also take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Mood swings are a common complaint among menopausal women. On the more extreme end, some women also report dealing with anxiety and depression due to hormonal changes. It also doesn’t help that the other symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes and brain fog, can be extremely debilitating and demotivating, leading to lowered self-esteem.

All this can make intimacy feel like more of a chore than a pleasurable experience. But falling into this pattern can lead to an endless cycle of avoiding intimacy, rather than facing the problem head-on.

How To Keep Your Sex Life Alive During Menopause

When it comes to libido and menopause, the problem might also be the solution: have more orgasms.

Depending on your level of sex drive, pain, and emotional health, it might not exactly sound exciting to go to the bedroom at first. But it could actually be exactly what you need. Having regular sex - even if solo - and more importantly regular orgasms, increases blood flow to the vagina, which can help to combat the effects that dipping reproductive hormones have on your libido and vaginal health.

It can sound downright daunting, so here’s how to improve your libido during menopause:

  • Talk to your partner. Communication has always been the key to a healthy sex life, and this is especially true when it comes to menopause. You won’t gain anything from bearing the pain on your own or doing the same old things if they aren’t working, so let your partner know! You can brainstorm ways to improve pleasure for both of you.

  • Most importantly, always let your partner know if it becomes too painful to continue.

  • Take things into your own hands. You can also benefit greatly from experimenting solo. Masturbation is a great tool to experiment with what works best for you in your new normal without the added pressure of having a sexual partner.

  • Increase foreplay. There’s more to sex than intercourse. If you’re experiencing pain during intercourse, try slowing things down a little bit and spending more time on foreplay. This can increase pleasure for both yourself and your partner, and it’s also a great way to increase intimacy.

  • Get experimental. Sometimes, having the same sex you’ve been having for the past couple of years just won’t cut it when it comes to menopause, so now is a fantastic time to start experimenting.

  • Have open conversations with your partners about any fantasies or needs that you have that could improve sex and minimize pain. There are also endless products specifically meant to widen your sexual experience, so consider trying new or different toys and products.

  • Don’t forget the lube. If your lack of sex drive stems from discomfort, you may benefit from using lubrication. These can be applied during sex to decrease friction and increase wetness, minimizing pain due to dryness. Some women find that using a personal water-based lubricant can greatly increase comfort and pleasure during sex. Oil based lubricants are another option: they can help trap moisture, and work well with water based on top during sex, providing a “double glide” effect.

  • Remember though, that oil based lubes rot condoms, so this isn’t an option if you are using these to prevent infection.

    Lubricants can be a good solution for those who experience milder forms of vaginal dryness or discomfort, but it may not be a long-term solution for anyone whose discomfort extends beyond their sex life: this is where using vaginal estrogen or newer options like vaginal laser can work best, it’s always a good idea to check in with a doctor if you think this might be your case.

    Other Lifestyle Changes For Improving Libido During Menopause

  • Practice your Kegels. One reason that your sexual pleasure might be decreasing could be that your pelvic floor is weakening. Kegels are a great exercise for strengthening that pelvic floor to make sex more pleasurable for you, and they can also help with any incontinence issues you may be having.

  • Try to do Kegels consistently - ideally, a couple of times a day - for the best results.

  • Improve your diet and exercise. A nutritious diet and exercise regimen can do wonders for keeping your hormones balanced, which is key for a healthy and pleasurable sex life.

  • In addition, eating right and exercising can help keep you at a healthy weight, which can have results both in your hormone profile and in your self-esteem!

  • Take supplements. Certain supplements like DHEA can increase your sex drive by improving your hormone balance and minimizing the negative symptoms that come with menopause.
  • There are also topical products that you might consider trying, like estrogen creams, to hydrate and improve any irritation to your vagina.

    If you are still having a hard time finding pleasure or are combatting serious mental and emotional issues like anxiety and depression that are getting in the way of your sex life, it might be time to have an honest conversation with a medical professional.

    Final Thoughts On Libido and Menopause

    It can be discouraging, awkward, and demotivating when menopause starts to affect your libido. But it’s important to know that there is plenty of hope for having a healthy sex life, no matter what your age or which phase of your menopausal journey you are in. It all starts with being honest, both with your partner and yourself.