Many women worry that menopause will completely destroy their sex drive, while others have heard endless stories about surging libidos once women know they can no longer get pregnant. The truth is many of the hormones that support a woman’s sex drive wane dramatically during the menopausal and perimenopausal stages, but that doesn’t have to mean an end to your sex life.
Menopause affects all women differently, and the impact “the change” has on your sexual appetite and activity level depends on a lot of different factors.
What happens during menopause?
During puberty, hormonal changes kickstart the fertile stage of your life and prepare your body to conceive, carry, and nurse babies. During menopause, your reproductive equipment stays largely the same; however, hormonal changes stop your body from releasing eggs.
These hormonal shifts can cause a wide variety of physical symptoms. Without certain female hormones or a decrease in the production of these hormones, the surface tissues of the vagina tend to be drier and may thin over time. Some women also experience symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain.
Hormone imbalances and uncomfortable menopausal symptoms can create a perfect storm, interrupting your sleep and leaving you tired and depressed — not the best conditions to make any woman feel sexy.
Menopausal factors that may decrease libido
Beyond the physical changes a woman experiences during menopause, many women go through deep social changes. Menopause often occurs at about the same time your kids are heading out on their own, leaving you to deal not just with hormonal changes, but with an empty nest as well. For some women, menopause may also hit just as you take on the responsibility of caring for aging parents.
And let’s not forget your sexual relationships. The change in hormone levels can take its toll on your self-esteem, leaving you feeling less attractive than you were in your younger days. Add to that the previously mentioned vaginal discomfort and dryness, and you may find yourself reducing your sexual activity or avoiding sex altogether.
The other side of menopause
As you enter into menopause, estrogen, and testosterone, the two hormones that play a large part in both fertility and libido, don’t drop at the same rate. For many women, estrogen levels fall before testosterone levels. This imbalance supports some women’s assertion that they feel a heightened sex drive as they go from perimenopause to full menopause.
Many women also find themselves liberated by menopause, discovering more freedom to express their own desires, whether sexually or otherwise.
Treating the whole woman
Sure, you could take supplemental estrogen, but for many women, this only delays the inevitable; plus, hormones are not an option for some women. There are also plenty of vaginal lubricants on the market, but they’re not really helpful if you’re too tired to have sex.
That’s why Shaurin Patel, MD at ObGyn Care of Oklahoma takes a whole-person approach to care, discussing the full menopausal experience, not just what happens between the sheets.
Dr. Patel provides a comfortable environment where you can feel free to address any sleep disturbances, uncomfortable symptoms, moodiness, or changes in your family life or career. If you find yourself losing interest in everyday activities, you may be experiencing postmenopausal depression. Even if it’s temporary, there are ways Dr. Patel can help.
Whether you find yourself with a heightened sex drive or a reduced one, it doesn’t have to be permanent. When your health is at its best, you won’t have to worry about sex. Call us or book an appointment online today.