Menopause and sex drive

Menopause and sex drive

Many women experience reduced or no sex drive during menopause. So how does the menopause affect sex life?

What is the cause of reduced sex drive in menopause?

Many of the symptoms associated with menopause can affect your sex drive. Thin, fragile and dry mucous membranes can cause pain during intercourse, which in turn can reduce your sex drive. Reduced levels of oestrogen also reduce blood flow to the vagina, resulting in less moisture in the vagina. This can make it more difficult to become sexually aroused or have an orgasm. If you have major problems with fragile mucous membranes, you may want to talk to a gynaecologist or midwife who can give you advice on moisturising creams or ointments containing oestrogen that may help you.

Lack of sleep and stress can also affect sex drive, and many women experience stress during the menopause. You may also become stressed because you don't feel any desire - a vicious circle.

Sexual desire is also affected by both self-image and relationships. It is not only the physical changes that occur during menopause that affect these, but often this time of life also coincides with changing family dynamics, such as defiant teenagers and ageing parents. This, of course, can be challenging in itself but also contribute to a decrease in the desire for intimacy with sexual partners. Furthermore, depression can lead to a reduced desire, not only for sex, but for life in general.

Increased sex drive during menopause?

So, it is common to experience a decrease in sex drive during menopause. However, the roller coaster of the menopause also includes the fluctuation of the sex hormone testosterone so that some women, on certain days, experience an increased sex drive.

Some women experience menopause as a freedom, 'a new era', where they can have unprotected sex without having to think about the consequences because they are no longer fertile and therefore cannot get pregnant. This new sense of freedom allows some women to be a little less inhibited in their sexuality. And don't forget that increased or decreased sex drive, or no sex drive, is a natural part of life - even during menopause!

How do you regain and increase your sex drive?

Getting older doesn't mean you stop wanting it, but your sex life may need to adapt to your new self. You may need more time to get in the mood and sometimes new ways of touching or being touched can help. There are lots of books on sexuality where you can get tips and help. Don't let desire become an achievement either. Wanting everything to be "the same" can have a negative impact on desire and you may start to feel tense. A good way to counteract this is to try sensuality exercises. Giving each other time to be touched and caressed without any expectation that it will be anything other than that.
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