Menopause is one of the most important physiological milestones in a woman’s life with young women especially being more vulnerable to sexual inefficiency. The impact can have a negative affect on the quality of a woman’s sex life and her intimate relationships may also suffer.
Women transitioning into menopause are more vulnerable to sexual inefficiency due to the complex interplay of individual factors affecting their physical and psychological well‐being. A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found women who have more significant side effects associated with menopause are more likely to report lower libido levels. Often the pain associated with sex, coupled with a plummeting libido, can cause the romance of any relationship to fall by the wayside.
So if menopause is a significant milestone in a woman’s life, it would then follow that distressing symptoms are discussed with a doctor? Apparently not is the finding of this study. Read on to the reason why.
The influence of hormones on your libido
Low sex drive is common among perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. During menopause testosterone and oestrogen levels decrease making it more difficult for women to become aroused. Decreases in oestrogen levels contribute to a reduction in blood supply to the vagina, effecting lubrication and causing pain during sex. Other symptoms can include depression, hot flushes, night sweats and weight gain. Consequently all these factors can strain relationships, cause personal distress, and negatively impact on a women’s desire for sex.
So if we know having happy fulfilling sex life is good for us and our intimate relationships, why then don’t women speak to their doctor about the distressing symptom?
Kingsberg, the author of the study investigated why very few women seek medical help for this common menopausal symptom. The study examined the attitude of 450 pre and postmenopausal women aged between 20-60 years towards low sexual desire and their awareness of available treatments. The women were required to complete self-described online survey regarding their low sexual desire, how they felt their situation affected their partner and others, and whether they knew that low desire was a treatable medical condition.
Silence due to embarrassment
The results of the study were as follows:
- 73% premenopausal and 81% of postmenopausal women had never spoken to their doctor about it due feeling embarrassed
- On a scale of 1 to 7, over 60% of the women said they had “considerable” distress (scoring between 5 to 7)
- Over 70% of the women said that their low sexual desire had caused issues with body image and self-confidence
- Over 50% said they felt less connected to their partners
- 27% of premenopausal and 34% of postmenopausal women were very dissatisfied with their current sexual desire level
- 90% of the women would like to have more desire or sex more frequently
- 95% believed that one or two more sexual encounters per month would be meaningful for their relationship
- 72% of premenopausal and 67% of postmenopausal women did not know that low sexual desire accompanied by distress was treatable
- 12% of the women who did talk to their doctor received counselling or taking medication for low sexual desire
Kingsberg study highlights a common problem many menopausal women face. The level of distress associated with low sexual desire appeared to be equally concerning for peri and postmenopausal women. So whether you 20 or 60 low sexual desires can have serious knock-on effects concerning body image, self-esteem and intimate relationships issues.
♥So if low sexual desire is impacting on your life and become an issue in your relationship, it’s really important to speak to your doctor who can fully assess any contributing factors and offer solutions in how best to treat the condition.
♥The physical and psychological changes that occur during menopause may lead to painful sexual experiences and consequently a poorer quality sexual life.
♥The lack of comprehensive information about menopause can lead to difficulties seeking help.
♥To positively change the perspective on menopause and sexual health, doctors need to initiate and continue conversations on the sexual health of women post diagnosis
♥Doctor’s could refer a range of services to manage menopause including sexual therapy and counselling
Kingsberg. S, A. Attitudinal Survey of Women Living with Low Sexual Desire. Journal of Women’s Health. October 2014, Vol. 23, No. 10:817-823