Menopause can cause a variety of physical and emotional changes in women. Some of the symptoms and side effects include anxiety, bladder control, depression, sleep issues, thinning hair, hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and weight gain. One additional issue can be decreased sex drive and desire (libido). The Journal of Women’s Health reported that the more severe the menopausal symptoms, the lower the libido. While many symptoms ease once the transition to postmenopause occurs—meaning a woman hasn’t had a period in one year—some symptoms may remain.
According to the North American Menopause Society, “sex drive decreases gradually with age in both men and women, but women are two to three times more likely to be affected by a decline in sex drive as they age.”
The decline varies from individual to individual and in varying degrees. This reduction in libido may result from a variety of reasons. First, estrogen levels decrease during menopause. This can results in reduced blood flow, causing less sensitivity to sexual stimulation and less vaginal lubrication, both of which may cause a woman to enjoy sex less and have difficulty achieving orgasm. Sex may even be uncomfortable or painful. It also may be due to dropping testosterone, the hormone active in every stage of sexual response. In addition, stress, other lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol, can exacerbate the problem.
Due to the varied causes of this change, treatments vary. Fluctuating or lower levels of hormones can be treated with estrogen or testosterone therapies. According to WebMD.com, “doctors are also studying whether a combo of estrogen and male hormones called androgens may help boost sex drive in women.” Natural supplements may also be used and include black cohosh, red clover, and soy. These should be discussed with a doctor before taking them. Lifestyle changes may also help, including regular exercise and using lubricants during sex. And it can be beneficial to work at fostering intimacy with partners.
The Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors, which included 13,882 women ages 40 to 80, reported that 26% to 48% of women had a lack of interest in sex, and the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women varied from 68% to 86.5%, depending upon the setting in which the study was performed. Furthermore, “sexual dysfunction was demonstrated to significantly impact women’s self-esteem and quality of life, and cause emotional distress, leading to relationship problems.”
For these reasons, research is critical to improving the treatments and care options for postmenopausal women with low libido. Meridien Research has medical research studies that are enrolling now at our Bradenton and St. Petersburg clinics. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 888-777-8839 or visit our individual study pages.