What Impact Does Menopause Have On Libido?
Libido is a tricky thing at the best of times - it can be impacted by stress, your relationships, your hormonal cycle, and even the weather (just to name a few). The menopause can be a major life event, and the effect it has on the body and hormonal system can cause frustrating issues with libido. We’ve spoken to our Co-Founder and gynaecology doctor, Dr. Sarah Welsh, to understand how menopause can impact your sex drive, and how to help.
What is menopause?
Whilst menopause is used as a general term for all the symptoms and changes that occur prior and post your period ending, the menopause is actually the term for when you haven’t had a period after a year. This normally occurs between the ages of 45-55, but you can be perimenopausal and experience a variety of symptoms (we’ll explore this in more depth below) prior to your periods ending, and also experience post-menopausal symptoms after your periods have stopped. The entire change can last a while - the average is approximately seven years, but it can be twice as long for certain people.
Menopause and its associated symptoms are caused by hormone levels changing, and particular estrogen and progesterone levels drop significantly. It can also be caused by certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, or certain operations, such as hysterectomies.
Menopause can occur earlier in certain cases (read our blog post interviewing Romy London about her early menopause experience) and Dr. Sarah Welsh suggests that if you are experiencing unusual periods, symptoms or cycles, you should contact your GP or medical provider.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
There are many symptoms of menopause, and they vary both in type and intensity depending on the person. The most common symptoms experienced around the menopause are:
- Hot flushes
- Low libido
- Memory issues (aka ‘brain fog’)
- Vaginal dryness (also known as vaginal atrophy)
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and people may experience all or none of the above symptoms. If you are in pain or concerned about any symptoms, it’s best to speak to a doctor.
How does menopause impact libido?
As mentioned above, not everyone experiences reduced libido at menopause, but it’s completely normal to find your sex drive dwindling - research suggests up to 50% of people experience a drop in libido, and it can be really difficult to adjust to.
Whilst the change in hormones can decrease libido in isolation, often many of the side effects of menopause (vaginal dryness, hot flushes and tiredness) combine to lead to a reduction in libido.
How can you increase your libido during and after menopause?
There isn’t a magic solution to low libido at any age, and it’s important to listen to your body and make sure you’re doing what is right for you. Depending on your concern, or what is impacting your sex drive, there are a variety of solutions.
If your low libido is caused by vaginal dryness, we highly recommend adding a lubricant to your routine. This can help reduce any pain that is caused by the dryness, and can help replace any natural lubrication that is lost. (Psst - HANX Lube is water-based, with no harsh chemicals and it’s pH balanced to make it as close to the real thing as possible. Check it out here!)
If you struggle to get in the mood mentally, making time for yourself (and your partner, if applicable), relaxing and communicating clearly can help. It might not sound the most sexy, but scheduling date nights and talking openly about expectations and building trust can reduce worry and help bridge the gap between body and mind. We have a natural supplement called Libido Lift which is designed to help you relax, unwind and get in the mood, and recommend using vibrators or other sex toys to help enhance the experience. Therapy, both as an individual and as a couple, can also help here.
If it’s a mixture of everything, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be worth exploring, and works to help mitigate symptoms by replacing some of the depleted levels of estrogen. Dr. Sarah Welsh says, ‘HRT can greatly improve the quality of life of people suffering from menopausal symptoms’, but do make sure to check with your doctor as certain people (e.g. people who have a history of blood clots) may experience higher risks than average on the treatment.
The link between menopause and libido is real, and completely natural. Whilst there are treatments, such as HRT, that can help mitigate symptoms, we recommend experimenting with lube and toys to help your enjoyment of sex. Communicating with partners, and making time to focus on you and your body, can also help with the emotional impact of the hormonal and libido changes that occur around menopause.
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