When you speak to women about their experience during menopause, you’ll likely get a wide range of answers. While many women find their sex drive is dramatically reduced during menopause, others, actually feel more relaxed and excited to enjoy sex without the fear of pregnancy. Let’s take a look at the link between menopause and sexual functioning and what you can expect during menopause.
How Does Menopause Affect Sexual Functioning
Like all health issues, the causes and solutions are multifaceted. Libido is no exception. Good thyroid and enough dietary cholesterol will ensure proper steroid production. Part of libido depends on these steroids. During menopause, the production of hormones is decreased in a woman’s body, which can result in changes to your body and your sexual drive. You may notice that you don’t become aroused so easily and that touching and stroking don’t arouse you in the same way as before. For many women, this is one of the reasons they find they are less interested in sex during this time. On top of that, the lower level of progesterone in your body reduces the blood flow to your vagina. This can often result in the vagina becoming much drier, which makes it too dry to have sex comfortably. Of course, there are various things you can do to make this experience more pleasurable, and this is something many women find a way to workaround. Why exactly does this happen? Dr. John Lee, MD explains further below.
“The female sex drive often falls during premenopausal period when anovulatory period develop, indicating that libido is more likely to be linked to progesterone than to estrogen. During the menopausal phase, however, the sex drive may become heightened, creating the paradox of sexual urges coinciding with vaginal dryness and atrophy which make intercourse uncomfortable, even painful. This increase in libido may result from the increased androgen synthesis secondary to progesterone deficiency. Often, supplementation with proper doses of natural progesterone not only maintains libido but restores a healthy vagina. In some cases, the addition of low-dose estrogen (preferably by estriol applied intravaginally) may also be needed for the vaginal dryness. It is a false assumption that enjoyment of sex should be denied to the postmenopausal woman.”
There are also other factors that impact sexual functioning during menopause. If you are struggling with bladder control, this may make it harder to relax and make the whole experience less pleasurable. Depression, stress, health concerns, and disruptions to your sleep patterns can also impact sexual functioning and make it harder to relax before and during sex.
Decreased Arousal During Menopause
Arousal is when your body shows physical signs of being ready for sex, and for women going through menopause, you’ll often find that arousal will come first, followed by sexual desire. This is the opposite way to how it usually is for women earlier in life, but seduction from your partner can still help you to get excited about sex. The changing hormone levels during menopause can affect arousal, and it can take longer for you to experience the same signs of arousal as blood circulation is reduced in the clitoris, vagina, and vulva. This is why women struggle with dryness, which can make sex more unpleasant.
It’s important to note that whatever you are experiencing during menopause, you are not alone. We encourage you to look at alternative solutions to help during sex and also speak to your partner. While they may become frustrated at times, it’s important they understand the physical reasons why you are struggling to become aroused. It’s an excellent time to start trying out new ways of having sex and experiment to find a solution that can resolve any issues you are currently experiencing.
No two women have the same symptoms or struggles during menopause, and you may be one of the lucky few who find their sex drive and sexual functioning increases. If you are struggling with sexual functioning during menopause, contact our team today, who will be able to discuss the various solutions on offer to assist you during this time.
“By a local action in the vagina, DHEA applied daily at doses at which serum steroids remain well within normal postmenopausal values exerts relatively potent beneficial effects on all four aspects of sexual dysfunction.”
Menopause. Sep-Oct 2009;16(5):923-31. Effect of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (Prasterone) on libido and sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. Labrie F, Archer D, Bouchard C.
Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26725467/
“…DHEA through a strictly local action in agreement with the preclinical data showing that the androgens made locally from DHEA in the vagina induce an increase in local nerve density.”
Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2016 Mar;25(3):181-90. Effect of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on the female sexual function in postmenopausal women: ERC-230 open-label study. Labrie F, Archer D, Bouchard C.
Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26725