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Team Inspiriko - August 2022

Low Libido During Middle Age: How to Spice Up Your Sex Life

Not feeling in the mood lately? Would you rather binge-watch a whole Netflix series season rather than have a spicy evening with your significant other? You’re not alone. Having a low libido is much more common than you may think. In fact, around 50% of women report diminished sexual desire as they reach their senior years (0), particularly if they’ve been or are about to go through menopause.

This means that feeling spontaneously lustful will be less likely to happen as you age. But menopause does not have to be the end of your sex life! On the contrary, it can become an opportunity to re-discover yourself and explore your body with a new perspective.

If you’re struggling with low libido, take a look at the following tips to reignite the passion while feeling happy, healthy, and overall comfortable with your body again.

Why Does Sex Drive Decrease With Age

While movies show that some candles and sexy lingerie can turn up the flames in the bedroom, reality is a bit more complicated than that. With time (and menopause!), your sexual desire can dwindle, making you less than excited at the perspective of a sexual encounter.

But why does this happen and is there anything you can do to avoid this lack of desire? As you age, your sex drive can be affected by many factors:

● A decrease in female hormones, especially estrogen. During perimenopause and menopause , your levels of this female hormone start to decline, which leads to many physical and mental changes (1). As a result, you may experience a myriad of symptoms that go from hot flashes to weight gain, vaginal dryness and low libido.
● Physical conditions that arise as a result of hormonal imbalance, might include, decreased blood flow to genitals, general inflammation, vaginal atrophy, joint and muscle pain, and a loss of flexibility (2). - all of which can be a libido killer.
● Mental health issues that can also dampen your desire, like depression, anxiety and a lack of sleep that many times result from, you guessed it, your unbalanced hormones (3).
● A lack of self-esteem, due to menopausal weight gain or hair thinning (4).
● Taking certain medications (like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication) can also lower your libido.

To make matters worse, libido is a very individual thing. While you may feel satisfied with having sex once a month, another woman may feel frustrated if she didn’t have an orgasm once a week. But if you feel unsatisfied with your sexual life at the moment, have a look at the following ways to improve what’s going on in your bedroom.

What If Sex Hurts?

In addition to all those factors that hinder desire, your sex drive may also decrease for one simple reason: pain. Yes, unfortunately, intimacy can become painful during the years of perimenopause or menopause because of:

● Vaginal atrophy, a condition where the vagina becomes thinner and drier as a result of the lack of female hormones that characterizes the menopause period (5);
● A lack of lubrication (despite being sexually aroused), which happens for the same reason: lower levels of estrogen, the hormone responsible for keeping your vaginal elastic and moist (6)
● Less estrogen also results in decreased blood flow to the vagina, clitoris, and vulva (7)
● Increased urinary infections, which result from thinning, more fragile vaginal tissue (8)

Of course, all of these painful symptoms can inevitably lead to a lack of libido because, let’s be honest, who can enjoy sex when it hurts? But luckily, being in your 40s or 50s (or even older!) does not mean you have to give up on sex. Physical and mental stimulation, together with other treatments, are useful to feel pleasure during intimate moments again. So, if you’re wondering what to do about the low libido, take a look at the following sections. We will discuss a number of options, including the use of lubricants and moisturizers, topical estrogen and the possibility of Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT).

TAKE THE MENOPAUSE ASSESSMENT

Learn where you are in your menopause / perimenopause journey with the help of a personalised report.

START ASSESSMENT

Reigniting Your Sex Life 101

Did you know that about half of menopausal and perimenopausal women experience pain during penetration? It’s only natural, then, to require help to enjoy sex again. Sometimes, a simple moisturizer can revive your sexual life and solve the problem, but other times you’ll need to talk to your doctor and look for other treatments.

Let’s look at some of the options.

Hormone Replacement Therapy  

One of the main reasons why your libido is low during menopause is the lack of estrogen your body experiences in this period. That is why HRT can be a good solution to revive your sex life (9), among other benefits like reducing hot flashes or improving your mood.

HRT, to put it simply, consists of taking medicine that will replace the estrogen your body has lost (10). In addition to relieving menopause symptoms, HRT can help women with other derived health problems like bone loss and fracture risk (11).

This method may be effective but may have a number of side effects. Make sure to discuss it with your doctor to be sure it’s the best option for you.

Natural Herbs and Phytoestrogens 

If HRT is not an option for you, don’t despair. Many plants and natural herbs can help you regulate your hormones and improve your libido. Red Clover contains isoflavones that mimic the way estrogen works in your body, so it may help with symptoms (12) like dryness and low libido produced by hormonal imbalance. Something similar happens with Soy , another source of phytoestrogens, though you should watch out for soy related allergies (13). Flaxseed, a kind of food and a fiber crop is useful when dealing with vaginal atrophy (14) thanks to its lignans, another form of phytoestrogens that may help you rebalance your hormones.

Black Cohosh is another herb that has long been used to help menopausal women with their symptoms by regulating their hormones (15). As a result, your vagina may become more elastic and moist, helping you enjoy sex once again.

Maca root is an ancient herb that has been used as a natural remedy for different menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats and, guess what, low libido! (16). Research shows that it increases sexual drive and desire in post menopausal women, so it can be a great solution if you’re suffering from low libido.

On the other hand, Ashwagandha is a medicinal agent that has relaxing properties and can reduce cortisol levels. As such, it promotes restful sleep and reduces anxiety, which may help you enjoy sex and improve your mood as well (17).

Lubricants & Moisturizers

Lubricants and moisturizers can turn a desert into an oasis and help you not only revamp your social life but also make you feel more comfortable overall.

Here are some tips to pick and use vaginal lubricants:

● Avoid vaseline and other non-water soluble lubricants if you’re having sex with condoms, as they can make the material of the condoms break. Plus, they can promote bacterial growth.
● Water-based lubricants are more cost-effective and have a long shelf life. They can help you improve your sex life as they suit even the most sensitive skins and they don’t leave a mess behind once you’re finished Avoid the ones with a high concentration of glycerin, as it can be an irritant for some women and even cause yeast infections (18).
● Silicone-based lubes can last the longest and do not require many re-applications. Plus, they are safe to use with condoms. One of the few drawbacks is that they can be harder to wash once you don’t need them anymore.

Pelvic Exercises

Toning up your pelvic muscles is key to enhancing sensations during sex and regaining strength in your V zone. You can achieve this by practicing kegel exercises, which activate your pelvic floor muscles (simply put, the muscles you use when you pee).

Here are some Kegels you can do whenever you have 5 minutes to spare:
1. Identify your pelvic floor muscles and contract them for 5 seconds.
2. Then, start releasing them slowly (it should take you another 5 seconds to reach complete relaxation).
3. Repeat this sequence as many times as possible! Ideally, 10 times 3 times a day.

Communication Is Key

Not feeling in the mood? Communicate with your partner. During menopause, the changes are so profound that your significant other may not know what to expect or how to feel. So, communication is key to getting through this natural yet difficult time in life. Let them know what could make you feel more comfortable so you can both enjoy sex together. 

Get Inspired

Have you ever wanted to try that particular sex toy? Now’s the time! Plus, sex is not only physical but actually starts in the brain. Let your imagination flow, read books, browse the internet … anything that helps you feel inspired to try more adventurous sex with your partner or yourself! With the help of lubricants and your imagination, you’ll be able to derive pleasure from steamy moments once again. 

Change Your Routine

Re-ignite your sexual life by changing your routines. If you used to spend only a few minutes on foreplay, do the exact opposite. This, in turn, will probably help you get more aroused and avoid the pain from vaginal dryness. Vibrators, sex toys, new positions… There's a lot to try! 

Play With Yourself

Who says sex has to always be with a partner? Masturbating yourself can up your libido, help you with vaginal dryness and overall help you feel good about yourself again. You won’t have the pressure to please another person and you can experiment with anything you feel like.

Spend time alone, re-learn what makes you feel pleasure and then you may feel ready to communicate with your partner and start living a thriving sex life again.

Final Takeaway: Enjoy a Thriving Sex Life - Before, During and After Menopause !

Having a vibrant life inside the bedroom is possible, even in the menopause years. While some issues will almost inevitably appear, like dryness and increased UTIs due to hormonal imbalance, these don’t have to be insurmountable obstacles for you to enjoy sex once again.

A change of sexual routine, good communication with your partner and natural remedies to balance your hormones, can do wonders for your sex life. With the right information and the invaluable help of your doctor, soon you’ll notice an increase in your sex drive.

TAKE THE MENOPAUSE ASSESSMENT

Learn where you are in your menopause / perimenopause journey with the help of a personalised report.

START ASSESSMENT

REFERENCES

0. Currie H, Moger SJ. Menopause – Understanding the impact on women and their partners. Post Reprod Health. 2019 Dec;25(4):183-190); Cumming GP, Currie HD, Moncur R, Lee AJ. Web-based survey on the effect of menopause on women’s libido in a computer-literate population. Menopause Int. 2009 Mar;15(1):8-12.
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