Loss of libido is one of the most common symptoms of menopause, but it can still come as quite a shock. It can happen suddenly, or you may see a gradual shift in your sex life. Either way, the root cause during this time is the hormonal changes in your body. Levels of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone are plummeting. This can cause a wide range of physical and emotional changes that are natural; however, they may be upsetting and a little scary to deal with if you've always had a healthy sex life.
There may be spots that your partner just knows to kiss or caress to get you going. However, you may notice that you just don't feel it as much. You are not getting excited like you used to, and this can be confusing for both you and your partner. You do not feel as sensitive to or stimulated by touch. It can be hard to get anywhere in your sexual experience if it's not even feeling good to you. Everything feels duller, and this is due to less blood circulation to your sex organs.
The decreased blood flow does not only restrict pleasurable sensations, it causes vaginal dryness which affects libido. This can be one of the most alarming symptoms. The lack of estrogen dramatically reduces lubrication. At the same time, it causes the thinning of your vaginal walls. This can cause painful penetration. Paired with less sensitivity, it can make it nearly impossible to reach an orgasm. Natural oils like almond oil, tea tree oil, coconut oil, and olive oil can be used as lubrication to make for a safe and sensual lovemaking session.
Disinterest in Intimacy
Not only is your body failing to respond, but your mind is elsewhere as well. You just don't feel “in the mood” and do not get “turned on” as often. It just does not come to mind as an activity to partake in. This can be due to the fact that it is painful, but also can be because of the reduced testosterone levels. This sex hormone is typically will rise and cue that it's time to get it on.
Stress can reduce libido at any time in a woman's life. It is likely that you have experienced stress-related loss of libido during other difficult transitions in your life as well. Anxiety can be much higher during menopause, and will have you focusing on anything but your partner. Without being emotionally present, it will make it that much harder for physical functions to be initiated.
Friction with Partner
The continual struggle in this area can cause misunderstandings with your significant other. You may become frustrated with them or they may become frustrated with you, but either way, it is important to open up a healthy dialogue. Talk about what you are going through, so that they know it has nothing to do with them. Also, the worst thing the both of you can do is avoid sex altogether. Although your partner can understand and support your changes, they may not be able to tolerate your unwillingness to try. Take appropriate measures and keep the flame alive.
So that you do not panic in the face of any of these symptoms, be aware of these common side effects of loss of libido. They can all-around damper your sex life, but they will not ruin it. This is a temporary situation that can be handled by a positive, open, and loving attitude. Read about good approaches for treating loss of libido.
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Menopause and menopause treatments fact sheet. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menopause-treatment.html
- Reddish, S. (2002). Loss of libido in menopausal women. Management issues. Australian family physician, 31(5), 427-432. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12043546