Menopause brings about many changes in a woman’s life. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as the “change of life.” The years leading up to menopause — defined as the absence of your period for a full year — is a time of transition itself. This phase is called perimenopause or premenopause, and it can last for several years, as your body prepares for menopause.
During perimenopause, the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone starts to wane, so most women experience symptoms such as hot flashes, irregular menstrual cycles, and vaginal dryness before they reach menopause. After menopause, your body’s production of these hormones levels off, continuing some of these symptoms and perhaps creating new ones.
Some of these menopause symptoms affect your sexuality — sometimes creating a lack of interest in sex, but not always. In some women, menopause can have the opposite effect. If you’re aware of these symptoms in advance, you can be prepared to seek treatment, so you can resume a healthy sex life. Menopause symptoms that can affect your sex life include:
While sex drives generally decline among both men and women as they get older, women are two to three times more likely to experience a waning sex drive in middle age. In fact, about 12% of women between the ages of 45 and 64 report a lack of desire.
One reason the lack of interest in sex is higher among middle-aged women is that lower estrogen levels lower your libido — and also makes getting aroused more challenging.
Lower estrogen production can also make your vaginal wall thinner and drier, making sex uncomfortable and even painful for some women.
Hot Flashes and Sleep Issues
It’s pretty hard to get in the mood when you are tired and having problems falling asleep. Low levels of progesterone can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep. Additionally, hot flashes, which are the most common menopause symptom, can also disturb your sleep and lower your desire to have sex.
Fluctuating hormones can wreak havoc on your emotions. Women going through menopause sometimes feel alternatively irritable and sad. Some experience depression. In other words, women can go through a variety of moods in a short period. This can make it hard for you to get in the mood, or for your partner to want to be intimate with you.
For some women, knowing they can’t get pregnant anymore can make them feel liberated and less inhibited. These women may experience a boost in their libido. Fluctuating hormones may also play a role in this increase in libido.
Lack of sexual desire is not a health issue that needs to be addressed by your doctor. But if it bothers you and you’d like to treat this problem so that you can enjoy an active sex life, contact us at Gardena Women’s Center in Gardena, California, and set up an appointment with speak to Dr. Gwen Allen.
If over-the-counter products such as vaginal lubricants or moisturizers don’t help, Dr. Allen can prescribe hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen, or other medications to help reduce menopause symptoms. There’s even the innovative vaginal rejuvenation treatment using the MonaLisa Touch® laser, which can address vaginal atrophy and dryness.
Dr. Allen can review the risks and benefits of all treatment options with you.
If you have questions about menopause and sexuality, call us at Gardena Women’s Center or make an appointment online.