Menopause—another inevitable part of the female experience. While roughly half of the human population is likely to experience menopause in their lifetime, the topic of how menopause affects female sex and libido is often left out of the conversation. That’s where we come in.
It’s time to shed some light on what happens to your body during menopause and how those changes impact sexual function, desire, and well-being. We encourage you to read, share, and speak up about topics like this, because it will benefit so many of us to break the taboo and normalize the discourse.
What is Menopause?
Let’s get clear about what menopause actually is. Menopause is widely recognized as the point in time when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. When menopause happens naturally (without surgery or hormonal birth control), it’s considered a normal part of aging.
As you approach your mid-40s to 50s, “your reproductive cycle begins to slow down and prepares to stop. As menopause nears, your ovaries make less of a hormone called estrogen,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. As estrogen levels decrease, your period behavior changes—it might be irregular during the peri-menopausal phase before it completely stops.
How Menopause Affects Female Libido
Since menopause results from the reproductive system slowing down, it makes sense that sex drive can slow down too. Here’s what happens, biologically:
Decrease in sex hormones
During menopause, both testosterone and estrogen levels go down. While some women may experience an increased sex drive and enjoy a healthy sex life during this time, others find it more challenging to get aroused and excited about sex. Hormonal changes can cause undesirable symptoms that make women less interested in having sex. These symptoms include depression and anxiety, weight gain, mood swings, and hot flashes (more on this below).
Vaginal discomfort and sensitivity
One physical symptom of menopause that definitely isn’t talked about enough is vaginal dryness, which directly impacts your ability to enjoy sex. Your vaginal walls become thinner and less lubricated after menopause (because of the drop in estrogen), which can cause discomfort during penetrative sex. Dropping estrogen also affects vaginal flora, causing the vagina to become more alkaline, and making it more susceptible to infection.
Improving vaginal flora can positively impact dryness and other symptoms—while you may opt for lubricants & moisturizers, consider targeting the issue at the source by adding a daily vaginal probiotic to your routine. The important ingredients to look for in a supplemental probiotic are Lactobacillus strains, which will help improve vaginal flora, and help bring pH back up to healthy levels (between 3.8 and 5.0). Bringing balance back into your vaginal microbiome is a safe and effective way to decrease vaginal dryness.
Changes in psychological well-being
For many women, having sex is a full-body experience that brings together both body and mind. The emotional and psychological changes brought on by menopause—stress, irritability, fatigue, and lack of motivation—can decrease women’s libido. Your brain has difficulty processing the contradictory feelings of stress and sexual arousal at the same time. Tending to your mental health can lead to more enjoyable sex after menopause.
How to Soothe Symptoms and Boost Sex Drive During & After Menopause
- Eat a well-balanced diet that includes a good amount of whole foods & fresh veggies.
- Take care of your emotional well-being with daily self-care practices.
- Get regular exercise multiple times a week. This can look like taking a stroll in your neighborhood or dancing in your kitchen while cooking.
- Manage anxiety, stress, or depression with yoga, meditation, or talk therapy.
- Find menopause relief with MENO Menopause symptom relief vitamins; a plant-based, hormone-free supplement that helps reduce hot flashes, improve sleep quality, and can help manage menopausal weight gain.