A decreased sex drive can be alarming, but it is common and normal as we age. With menopause comes fluctuating hormones, body changes, and mood changes. The good news is not all is lost. Learning how to manage menopause symptoms can save your sex drive and get you back to enjoying a fulfilling sex life.
Why does my sex drive change in menopause?
It’s normal for both men and women to see a decreased sex drive with age, but women are two to three times more likely to be affected by a decline in libido as they age. And a reduced sex drive becomes much more common in women beginning in the late 40s and 50s.
The physical changes that are happening during perimenopause and menopause, like fluctuating hormones, have been often noted as the reason for changes to our sex drive. The hormone estrogen begins to decline in perimenopause, lowering our sex drive, causing vaginal dryness, and making arousal and orgasm difficult.
These physical changes can also influence how we feel about sex. Vaginal dryness will also cause pain during sex. If there’s not enough lubrication, penetration may be painful. If you’re expecting to feel pain during sex, likely, you won’t be in the mood to have sex.
What can I do to get my sex drive back in menopause?
Managing menopause symptoms should be the first place to start. Vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, stress, and anxiety are common menopause symptoms and can all impact sexual desire.
Vaginal dryness in menopause
Vaginal dryness is common in perimenopausal women, and more than half of post-menopausal women experience vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness can also feel like a burning and itching sensation.
Moisturizing our intimate skin should be a part of our everyday skincare routine, yet we often forget about our intimate areas until something feels off.
Using a vaginal moisturizer made with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E daily helps to ensure the vaginal tissue stays healthy, hydrated, and supple.
Insomnia in menopause
The connection between sex and sleep goes beyond the bed; often, a healthy sex life will lead to better sleep health and vice-versa. Unfortunately, as much as 33% to 51% of menopausal women experience sleep disturbances, and trying to get in the mood when you’re tired can be difficult.
There are two things you can incorporate to help you get your sex life back:
- Schedule time for sex. We often think sex is only reserved for nighttime. Try switching your routine up and have sex first thing in the morning.
- Take a natural sleep supplement before bedtime to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
You may have never had to battle anxiety before menopause, but now suddenly, you find yourself experiencing anxiety. Estrogen and progesterone can affect the neurotransmitters in our brains, which play a crucial role in regulating mood and emotions. As these hormones decline during perimenopause and in menopause, it can lead to emotional ups and downs, causing anxiety in some women.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, you may want to consider mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT. There are many types of mindfulness techniques one can incorporate when practicing MBCT:
- Present-moment awareness. This is the most basic mindfulness technique. Put simply, it means to pay attention to what you’re doing when you do it – whether you’re brushing your teeth, walking your dog, or any other typical daily activity.
- Meditation. Meditation is a form of mindfulness that usually involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing, thoughts, or certain objects to cultivate awareness and a sense of calm. Walking meditation is another form of meditation where you notice objects and sensations along your path as you move.
Please reach out to a healthcare professional to discuss how to help manage anxiety.
Foreplay is the key
To help get your sex drive back in menopause, focus more time on foreplay. Foreplay is anything that leads up to sex. We often think about foreplay as part of sexual intercourse; however, foreplay can start outside of the bedroom and not have to be physically sexual. Think about what turns you on… Is it having your partner send flirty texts throughout the day? Is it watching a steamy television show or movie? Is it reading erotica?
There is a false notion that foreplay is only to prepare the body for penetration. Foreplay is about arousal, building anticipation, exploring pleasure, and connecting with your sexuality. Sex is as much mental as it is physical.
How can I maintain intimacy in my relationship?
How do you and your partner show affection to one another outside of sex? Sex is not the only way to be intimate in a relationship:
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
- Romantic gestures
- Quality time
- Enjoying new experiences together
- Communication and inquisitiveness
Remember, if you have noticed a dip in intimacy, there is a good chance your partner has noticed it too. Communication is the best way to get back on track.