We take a closer look at the causes of low libido, how long it’s likely to last and what help you can get with managing reduced sex drive.
Low Libido Is A Common Symptom Of The Menopause
Loss of libido is a common symptom of the menopause and is caused by changes in the levels of oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. It is chiefly characterised by a lack of interest or desire for sexual activity.
“Loss of libido is common during menopause, affecting 20-40% of women. It can be one of the most difficult symptoms to manage. This is often because the woman doesn’t understand why it is happening and what to do about it.” Trudy Hannington, a psychosexual therapist at the Leger Clinic
“A change in oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone can reduce a woman’s desire for sex,” explains Hannington.
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.
“Loss of libido can be distinguished from the inability to become sexually aroused or achieve orgasm,” says Hannington, “although women may experience these symptoms at the menopause. Loss of libido may also be linked with vaginal dryness and irritation.”
What Causes Low Libido During Menopause?
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.”
How Long Will Low Libido Last?
“This is difficult to say. It may last as long as menopausal symptoms last, but may last longer,” says Hannington. “Tiredness, stress and a general lack of time all play a big part in having not only the energy to be sexual but the time to be sexual too,” she says.
“It’s important to explore not only the physical symptoms but also the psychological issues.” Hannington believes understanding what is happening inside and outside the body may help improve your libido.
Seeking Help With Low Libido
It can feel very embarrassing for many women to talk to others, including their GP, about this taboo subject. “As sexual difficulties are very common in menopause, GPs will be used to being asked for help,” stresses Hannington.
“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 British Menopause Society website.”
What Can You Do About Loss Of Libido?
You may want to consider HRT and/or testosterone, but it is important to discuss this with a doctor who can help you choose the best option for you.
Hannington suggests a few ideas for you to consider:
Book A ‘Date Night’
Use the time to get know each other again and discuss what makes you both feel good. Switch off phones and other electronic devices so that you can give each other your full attention.
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.
Try Herbal Remedies
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.
Available on the high street in the form of Vitano® Rhodiola tablets, it is a natural herbal supplement which can help with the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress such as fatigue, exhaustion, and low sex drive, and has been used for over 30 years as a traditional remedy.
Taking 200mg, twice a day could help to control the release of stress hormones while helping to improve energy and libido levels.
Traditional herbal medicines containing Black Cohosh and St John’s Wort* have been clinically proven to help relieve common menopause symptoms, and it’s the menopause and its associated symptoms that affect your libido.
*If you are taking an SSRI such as Sertraline consult your GP before taking St John’s Wort.
Understanding Your Changing Hormone Levels
The menopause is a challenging time for a lot of women, which is why it can be helpful to understand the hormonal changes that are happening in your body. This will help you better manage your symptoms.
Our menopause test is for women at various stages of the menopause and measures the key hormones associated with the symptoms of the menopause. It also measures biomarkers key to your bone and heart health – two areas that women going through the menopause need to manage to stay healthy in later life.