Loss of libido or sex drive is a complex interplay with your psychological, relational, physical, and hormonal dimensions and is unique as the woman experiencing them. The consequences can be distressing from the inability to become aroused to difficulty achieving orgasm.
The loss of desire is a common complaint expressed by many women experiencing symptoms of premature/early menopause. A girlfriend recently discussed her ongoing struggle to get in the mood with her partner, “I often go to bed first and pretend to be asleep”. Her avoidance towards intimacy has however put a strain on their otherwise happy relationship. Read on to identify if any of these common issues are impacting on your desire for sex.
Libido killer: Pain, dryness and hormonal issues
When you are young and in the throes of menopause it can be distressing to experience hot flushes and night sweats and even more distressing to have a dry, thin vagina, which makes sex and intimacy painful. Your declining hormones – specifically oestrogen and testosterone, are the cause to both discomfort during sex and low sex drive. Some women may develop a condition called vaginal atrophy in which the vaginal tissues constrict and your vagina actually gets smaller, also leading to pain during sex.
- The only significant treatment available is menopause hormone treatment (MHT). Basically MHT raises your oestrogen levels which replenish your vaginal tissues therefore eliminating the discomfort you feel during intercourse
- Use of topical oestrogen vaginal cream to help with dryness and irritation experienced during intercourse
- Using a vitamin E soft gel capsules as vaginal suppositories to alleviate dryness and discomfort
- Discuss with your doctor your low sex drive it could be linked to low levels of testosterone and may recommend testosterone supplements
- Experiment and try different sexual positions to help alleviate pain and use lots of vaginal lubrication
- Kegel exercises is the best way to strengthen pelvic muscles which can boost your libido and increase vaginal moisture levels
I often go to bed first and pretend to be asleep…
Libido killer : Psychological factors
Feeling stressed, anxious, self-conscious about your body or unhappy about intimacy can make sex painful. They can all affect your libido by making you feel more negative, physically tense and hesitant about having sex. For some women, what starts as a physical problem can soon escalate to psychological and relationship issues causing further strain and worry.
- Talk openly with your partner about the impact your symptoms are having on you physically and mentally –it can help build a stronger emotional connection and even put you in the mood for sex
- Encourage your partner to discuss how he is feeling about the changes; it might be that he’s feeling left out and unsure of what you need from him
- See a counsellor for added support
- Get regular massages to help your body relax or a full body massage from your partner could improve your mood for sex
- Acupuncture may reduce stress and anxiety and help with other menopause symptoms
- Meditating daily has shown to help reduce stress and calm the mind from negative thought patterns
- Exercise has also shown to reduce stress and lessen the severity of some symptoms of menopause by releasing endorphins – the feel good hormone
Libido Killer: Normal ageing
Women begin to naturally lose muscle mass from the age of 30. Since muscle tissue performs most of the metabolic ‘work’ which burns up a lot of calories, the loss of muscle tissue as you age means that you will burn fewer calories. In other words, your metabolic rate slows down and the lost muscle will be then be replaced with fat. Researchers believe that oestrogen is stored in fat and when you enter menopause, your body responds by holding on to fat cells in an effort to boost the lagging oestrogen levels. So you may begin to notice your body changing shape and the ongoing battle to lose weight. For many women being over weight doesn’t make you feel very sexy, and the discomfort you may feel with your new body, can have negative impact on your desire for sex. Other physical changes you will notice include your skin losing elasticity and becoming thinner making wrinkles more visible. All these changes are just part of the process and DO NOT make you less attractive and desirable.
- Exercise regularly both cardio and muscle strengthening – a strong body is sexy body
- Have a nutritious diet
- Drink lots of water (2 litres per day) to stay hydrated – it keeps the skin plumped and help reduce fine lines
- Learn acceptance – love your body because it will continue to change as a normal part of the ageing process and it’s in your control how fast or slow that happens
Libido killer: Mood disorders and medications
Women who have premature/early menopause can be at greater risk of depression, anxiety and mood changes. If you suffer from mood disorder such as depression, anxiety or irritability, it can turn you off from sex. When it comes to side effects of medications causing a loss of desire, you will need to speak to your doctor to make an assessment and perhaps offer alternative medications or possibly other remedies.
- Discuss with your doctor alternatives to medication
- Daily cardio exercise and weight training have shown to help with mood disorders
- Acupuncture and some herbal remedies may help like St. John’s wort, zinc, folate and Omega 3 fatty acids
- Mood swings due to fluctuating hormones can be improved with menopause hormone therapy
Libido Killer : Fatigue
Fluctuating hormone levels is the main cause of fatigue in menopause. Hormones oestrogen and progesterone, as well as the adrenal glands and melatonin levels, regulate the energy in your body. So when these levels fall or wildly fluctuate, fatigue can be the result. Sleep disturbance and night sweats are common complaints of menopause. When you experience these symptoms every day it can leave you feeling exhausted and too tired for sex.
- Meditate daily to relax and sleep more deeply
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by being physically active, eating a healthy diet and reducing your alcohol intake
- Find ways to reduce stress and take time out daily to relax
- Have your doctor eliminate other medical causes such as thyroid problems, anaemia or depression
Libido Killer: Your relationship
Hormones aside, then next biggest influence on your libido is the quality of your relationship. There are many influences that can negatively effect your desire to be intimate with your partner. Important factors such as being in a unfulfilling relationship, your partner is experiencing sexual problems, you’re sexual incompatibility or other stressors. Also couples in long term relationships can at times suffer from emotional detachment as a result of becoming too familiar with each other. You may start to feel a loss of attraction on a physical or sexual level and perhaps don’t communicate as much about the more important things. So if you’re in a unhappy relationship or the sex you are having is not satisfying, it will be difficult to feel sexually attracted towards your partner, and therefore your desire for have sex will naturally decrease.
- Open communication is the key to keeping a healthy relationship and talk about what’s going on for you
- Counselling to deal with deeper issues either as a couple or alone
- Spice up your relationship with regular date nights, shake things up with your daily routines, engaging in activities your both enjoy, experiment with sex such as role plays, positions and locations
- With a little imagination you can bring back the spark for intimacy with your partner
♥ Loss of libido during menopause is mostly due to your hormone production falling to very low levels causing vaginal dryness leading to painful sex
♥ If you find that your lack of sexual desire is having an impact on your life or your relationship, then it’s important to consult your doctor
♥ Sex is an important aspect of a relationship – so it is important to let your partner know how you feel, what you need and want from him.
♥ It’s important to stay connected to your partner by encourage him to talk openly about his feelings which may help to enhance your sex life
♥ Sex is not the only way to feel close to your partner – kissing, caressing, and other nonsexual acts of intimacy can actually help boost your sex arousal by creating a bond between you and your partner
♥ Your libido can be different to your partners – it’s only a problem if it’s causing tension within the relationship
♥ Create goodwill and some intimacy between you and your partner, by talking, listening and touching and holding each other, so you are more likely to feel sexual towards each other
So ladies, let’s now talk.
What are the best excuses you have used to avoid having sex?
With love and gratitude