Goodbye Low Libido: Breathing Life Back into Your Sex Life

Goodbye Low Libido: Breathing Life Back into Your Sex Life
Does it take a lot more than Marvin Gaye and a dozen roses to get you “in the mood?” Loss of sexual desire is common in women, especially those who are approaching (or are already in) menopause. In fact, research shows that at least 30 to 50 percent of women experience some sort of sexual dysfunction.

So what gives? For one, changing hormones can cause your spontaneous desire to free fall. A quick lowdown on the hormones that can affect your sex drive: 

Estrogen: When a woman approaches menopause (called perimenopause), her levels of estrogen (the female hormone that regulates menstruation, controls development of female sex organs and thickens the lining of the uterus) drops dramatically. Low levels of estrogen can cause painful intercourse (due to vaginal dryness), mood swings and poor sleep. 

Testosterone: Yes, it’s important for women, too! A woman’s ovaries naturally produce testosterone, which is used to help make estrogen. Testosterone levels also naturally dwindle with age, and therefore, may contribute to reduction of arousal and sexual response. 

Progesterone also controls the menstrual cycle and supports pregnancy. Although it isn’t completely understood, declining levels of this hormone when a woman reaches menopause may also play a role in sexual function.

Now that you understand a little about the impact of shifting hormones, what can you do about it? Should you simply resign yourself to binge watching everything on Netflix, taking up macramé or becoming celibate?

No, no and (definitely) no! 

The good news is, there are many ways you can breathe life back into your sex life. Here are four: 

1. See your women’s health provider or your primary care physician. Menopause (or the approach of it) can wreak havoc on your sex drive, but a host of other health issues can contribute as well, including bladder problems, under-active thyroid, chronic pain, medication side effects, and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. If you are behind on your regular health maintenance, check in with your doctor to ensure your overall wellness is on the right path.

2. Tame the pain. Try over-the-counter or silicone-based lubricants to reduce vaginal dryness. You can also talk to your doctor about vaginal moisturizers or low-dose vaginal estrogen (in a cream, suppository or ring). There are other prescription drugs (including ospemifene and flibanserin) that may help, too.

3. Squash stress. From your spouse or partner relationship to raising children to working to caring for aging parents, you have a lot on your plate. A full plate can be a blessing, but it can also increase stress. Make time for date nights with your partner. Plan for foreplay and sex, even if you’ve never had to do so before. Find ways to combat your own tension, whether you schedule a massage, go for a run or take a hot bath. If you feel like your sex life or your relationship has really hit a rough patch, consider seeking professional help, such as couples counseling.

4. Amplify aging through healthy living. While desire slows with age for both men and women (although women are two to three times more likely to face this problem), eating right, exercising regularly and not smoking can also improve your sexual health. 

Remember, when you take good care of yourself, your body and your relationships, the benefits will show up in the bedroom and beyond. 

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