Leandie Buys Realtionship Therapist & Clinical Sexologist

How menopause affects your libido

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

Many women find that their libidos are affected by perimenopause and menopause. Perimenopause is the period of time before a woman’s body transitions into menopause, and may begin as many as ten years beforehand.

Over time, less oestrogen is produced in a woman’s ovaries, and ultimately the ovaries cease to release eggs. Perimenopause symptoms include hot flushes, irregular periods, changing cholesterol levels and changes in sexual functioning.  

A decrease in female hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause may result in a decrease in sexual desire. Studies show that low libido affects between 20% and 45% of perimenopausal and menopausal women.

Many women feel that the decrease in sexual desire affects their relationship with their partner. 

During menopause, certain hormone levels decrease

The basic function of these hormones include:

  • Oestrogen – helps to heighten sensitivity during intercourse
  • Progesterone – keeps the libido up
  • Testosterone – boosts sexual desire and lubricates the vagina

Photo by Kelly Newton on Unsplash

Management of menopausal symptoms

There are a number of treatment and management options for menopausal symptoms and there are many things that can be done to increase libido.

Lubricants – these help to lubricate the vagina and make intercourse less painful. Be sure to use a water-based lubricant such as KY Jelly.

Hormone Creams – some of these prescription creams contain oestrogen and can help increase blood flow to the vagina. This will help with an increase in sensitivity and easier orgasm. The creams also aid in lubrication.

Hormone Therapy (HT) – This used to be called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The treatment artificially boosts hormone levels that decrease during menopause. It can either be a short-term treatment (two to five years) for relieving the symptoms of menopause or a long-term treatment to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Sometimes testosterone is added to the HRT to increase sexual desire. A woman should consult her doctor before beginning HT. There are some possible side-effects of this therapy which could increase some women’s chances of: blood clots, breast cancer, vaginal bleeding, headaches, nausea and mood changes.

Psychological effects

If you feel like perimenopause or menopause has affected your libido, your relationship, and your overall self-esteem, you are not alone. Perimenopause and menopause can affect a woman’s emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Anxiety and depression are both common, as well as difficulty sleeping. All of these symptoms can be addressed in a professional counselling environment. Women do not need to go through this stage of life alone. There are ways to boost your libido, and to improve your emotional wellbeing. A professional counsellor will give you the tools you need to embrace this new stage of life, and enjoy everything it has to offer.