It’s not uncommon to lose your sex drive during menopause. It might be quite upsetting for some, especially if you’ve spent many years enjoying great sex. Suddenly, you can’t be bothered to buy sexy lingerie, act seductive towards your partner and “endure” any acts of passion. This could feel like losing parts of yourself. But what causes the decrease in libido and how do you get it back if you have lost it? There are two main reasons – physiological and psychological.
The drop in your oestrogen and testosterone levels is the main reason why your sex drive has dropped. Before you reach menopause, your sex drive would peak just before and just after you ovulated. However, things change when you no longer have mensuration and ovulation. That affects your sex drive as well.
2. Vaginal dryness
This one is a killer. Unless you use vaginal moisturisers and lubricants, sex and masturbation can be very painful. The friction can lead to discomfort or even bleeding. The lower levels of oestrogen lead to a drop in blood supply in the vagina and thinning of the vaginal wall, known as vaginal atrophy. It’s quite normal to not feel aroused when you’re physically uncomfortable! Use lubricants and intimate skin moisturisers to improve your vaginal dryness.
3. Hot flushes
This intense warmth that isn’t caused by an external source can be quite unpleasant and confusing. Hot flushes come without warning and can last for several minutes, multiple times a day. Your skin feels warm and sweaty suddenly; you get redness on your face, neck, ears, or chest. You might get the chills too, increased heartbeat and tingling in your fingers. Not easy to feel sexy when you’re sweaty and red!
1. Mood swings
Somebody triggers you and you feel like shouting at them or throwing a plate at them. Next thing you know, you want to hide in your bedroom and cry your eyes out. Your work assignments stress you out, but then the good news makes you so happy that you can cry (again). A heightened sense of sadness, nervousness, aggression, impatience, anxiety and irritability are very common during the menopause. Mood swings can come and go without warning.
Do you feel a sense of doom and gloom? You feel so sad, nothing makes sense or has meaning anymore. The things that used to bring you joy don’t really excite you anymore. The constant sleepless nights kill your vibe, and this sadness simply doesn’t go away. You feel down, down, down… Even socialising and shopping don’t do too much to your mood. You walk around, not living, just existing from one day to the next, wondering if this will ever end.
3. Weight gain
Even though weight gain is a physical change. However, unless you’re morbidly obese, it’s something that affects you psychologically much more than physically. The way you perceive your appearance directly affects your self-esteem. You may have spent long years looking good, and keeping in shape. However, the drop in energy levels during menopause makes it easy to put on weight. When you suffer from anxiety and fatigue, you likely struggle to find the physical or mental energy to exercise regularly. Food might be a shortcut to calming down. Of course, feeling chubby is likely making you feel self-conscious, and your sex drive is suffering as a result.
How to improve your libido
Since the loss of libido and the developed aversion to sex is caused by multiple factors, you need to tackle each one until you get to the root cause. You might also be taking medication that affects your sex drive. Your libido is the result of your emotions, hormones, physical discomfort and external stressors. So there is no quick fix.
Your relationship might already be going through a rough patch. If you have a partner, try to be very honest with them. Here are some tricks you can try to increase your sex drive:
- Masturbate often – when you reconnect with your own body and sexual desire alone, it would be easier to do it with someone else
- Distract yourself – you can manage your mood swings and anxieties using books, music, videos, and TV. If you include erotic types of these, you might reawaken your sexual desire.
- Focus on foreplay – oral sex and sexual massage can make you feel more comfortable. They are likely to increase intimacy and improve communication with your partner.
- Relax often – make regular time for long showers or baths, relaxing music, meditation, yoga and long walks. Anything that calms you down
- Minimise physical discomfort during sex – experiment with sexual positions that allow you to control the depth of penetration. Use vaginal lubricants to help ease pain caused by friction.
There is no quick fix when it comes to reducing your aversion to sex and improving your libido. There are no standard levels of sex drive so don’t compare yourself to friends who might be more hungry for sex. High libido comes and goes. Both men and women can experience a loss of libido, people who are younger and older. Keep in mind that the most powerful part of your body for sex is not your clitoris or your vagina, but your brain! Stress and sadness can have a significant impact on your libido. Be kind to yourself while you’re going through these changes and you’ll appreciate your sex drive even more when it comes back!