Loss of libido (your sex drive) is common during and after the menopause. Vaginal dryness, when a lack of oestrogen causes the vaginal epithelium to become redder and thinner, is also common during the menopause, so it’s important not to feel embarrassed to seek help.
“Loss of libido is common during menopause, affecting 20-40 per cent of women. It can be one of the most difficult symptoms to manage. This is often because the woman doesn’t understand why it’s is happening and what to do about it,” says Trudy Hannington, a psychosexual therapist at the Leger Clinic.
Loss of libido is a complex phenomenon with psychological, relational, physical, and hormonal dimensions, as unique as the women who experience them. It is chiefly characterised by a lack of interest or desire for sexual activity. Many women with loss of libido find that they are less in touch with their sexuality. Sexual feelings and desires come less frequently, and energy for sex drastically dwindles or disappears from a woman's life.
Decreased levels of the hormone oestrogen can cause vaginal dryness. Oestrogen plays a vital role in female sexuality by increasing sensations, assisting in the production of vaginal lubrication, and maintaining the health of vaginal tissue. Progesterone is also important for maintaining sexual health. “When levels become too low during menopause, the resulting irregular periods, fatigue, and other menopause symptoms can cause loss of libido,” says Hannington. “Women also produce testosterone, levels of which drop at the time of the menopause, also causing a loss of libido.”
If you’re suffering from this problem, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP. Most GP practices often have one GP with a special interest in this area, or you could speak to the nurse. Some localities have specialist menopause clinics and you can find these listed on menopausematters.co.uk. There are several treatments for vaginal dryness, including lubricants, moisturisers, oestrogen or HRT.
If you don’t want to consider medicine, why not book a ‘date night’ with your partner, so you can both get to know each other again, and discuss what makes you feel good. Improving foreplay and taking time with sensual massage can help improve communication. Kissing, touching and exploring each other’s bodies can help to boost libido.
Scientific research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine and the journal Phytotherapy Research, has shown that Rhodiola rosea extract (WS®1375), a herb used for centuries to relieve stress and boost energy, can also help boost low sex drive.