Menopause brings on a slew of physiological changes: many that we expect and some we don’t. Everyone talks about hot flashes and the end of periods, but what it does to our libido is last on the list. As women, our bodies respond to what’s happening internally and externally, such as relationship issues and work stress — our brains are multitaskers, so everything affects how our libido responds to sex. What turns us on is more than just an attractive partner. Layer that on top of the physiological changes we experience during menopause, and reaching climax becomes a hefty task.
While you’re figuring out how to navigate menopause and how hormonal changes are going to affect you, know that it’s normal and you’re not alone. A healthy sex life acts as a stress reliever, a workout, and it can help boost your confidence. To get ahead of the hormonal effects of menopause and its impact on your libido, we’ll share a few things you can do to stay on top—in more ways than one. Before we dive in, it’s important to have a general understanding of menopause—just because we still don’t talk about it enough.
Your Wildest Ride: The 3 Stages of Menopause
There are three stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Every woman experiences these stages differently based on health conditions and lifestyle, but there are some common symptoms you can expect at each stage.
Transitional Symptoms of Menopause
Also called perimenopause, the prequel to menopause typically starts around your mid-40s. During perimenopause, your ovaries start to power down, reducing the levels of your sex hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. While your estrogen levels eventually decline overall, there can be occasional jumps, meaning you’ll experience some changes in mood and sex drive. With these fluctuations, you may notice some confusion and difficulty remembering things, similar to how you might experience brain fog during pregnancy. You may also notice spotting or inconsistent periods, difficulty sleeping, and an influx of hot flashes. Someone turn up the AC!
Once your estrogen levels reach their lowest, your ovaries will stop releasing eggs, and your periods will stop. After 12 months without a period, you’re officially in menopause, a stage that could last up to 14 years, according to the National Institute on Aging. The symptoms you experience in perimenopause could reduce significantly, or taper off entirely. So, the plus side is that it won’t always be this way, and you can look forward to a bounce-back period! Your sex hormones do drop off since you’re no longer able to become pregnant, but once they level out in post-menopause, you’ll likely feel better overall. Women who have gone through it often signal postmenopause as their renaissance… in many ways.
How to Conquer Changes in Your Libido
Your body is going through an intense set of adjustments in perimenopause that may overshadow your interest in sex. When you have sex, vaginal dryness and reduced elasticity can make sex uncomfortable. When estrogen and progesterone levels drop to their lowest, one of the main side effects is the inability to orgasm. Why? Blood flow slows to your clitoris, and there’s less sensitivity. Here’s how to get back on top:
Try Hormone Balancing Treatments
Finding some balance can help you feel more like yourself when your pregnancy hormones are all over the place. While taking prescription medications to help balance your estrogen levels, it’s important to talk to your OB and make sure that’s an option… it’s often recommended to try natural supplements first, and save the pharmaceuticals for down the line if your body isn’t responding to botanicals. Keeping your hormones balanced can help reduce vaginal dryness and promote elasticity—you’ll have a much more controlled response during your transition period of getting back in the saddle.
Take Natural Supplements to Reduce Symptoms
If synthetic hormones aren’t for you, a natural approach may be the way to go. MENO Menopause Relief is formulated for multi-symptom support, and is available in capsules and gummies. Its vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients include Ashwagandha to improve sex drive, Chasteberry to support hormones and mood, and Black Cohosh to help reduce hot flashes.*
Try New Things With Your Partner
Just because you’re not experiencing the pleasures of sex like you used to, it might be time to try new things. Reacquaint yourself with your body and find new ways of stimulation, like spending extra time touching yourself and indulging in more foreplay. Start from scratch, and try to have fun with it! The sensations you used to find pleasurable may change, and you might find new things that get you to orgasm.
Try Sex Toys
If you haven’t been to a sex shop in a while, the fun options will blow your mind. Take the opportunity to make a date out of it and see what interests you and your partner. This fun exercise could spice things up and take the pressure off. With so many electronic ways of stimulation (bye, carpal tunnel), achieving orgasm has become so much easier.
Incorporate Lubricants Into Your Routine
Lubricants are a savior for dry vaginas. Adding a few drops before you start can make sex way more fun for both of you. And because there are so many different types of lubricants, you have options. From heating and cooling sensations to flavored and colorful versions, finding something for every stage of sex is easy. Our favorites are water-based lubricants, because they’re easy to rinse off and likely won’t damage your favorite sex toys—or your vaginal pH.
Take the Pressure Off
What works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s okay. As we age, getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying active makes all the difference in how we feel. If you’re not into sex as much as you used to be, there are other ways to maintain intimacy. Go with the flow and free yourself from expectation.
A drop in libido doesn’t have to be permanent, and it doesn’t have to indicate the end of an era. And if you’ve had a great sex life before these body chemistry changes, you’ll likely continue to have incredible sex. There are plenty of ways to stay active and intimate in ways that make it more fun for you. Try these tips and follow us on social @opositiv for more sexual health tips and tricks.