Let’s Talk Menopause: Sexual Function & Desire

menopause-loss-sex-driveAs a woman ages, there will come a point in their life where reproduction is no longer possible because menstruation periods come to a halt. For many women, this is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because menstruation stops and you no longer have to bear through the inevitable pains that occur or worry about becoming pregnant. A curse because there are often many undesired effects or symptoms as a result of menopause.

Loss of Sex Drive from Menopause

First off, let’s establish exactly what symptoms women experience during menopause:

• Night sweats
• Hot flashes
• Unexplained weight gain
• Moodiness
• Fatigue

Just those symptoms alone may result in a decreased drive to have sex. Now, what if the vagina wasn’t being properly lubricated, or suffers atrophy, or the vaginal wall thins or becomes inflamed? These symptoms occur is up to 45% of women post menopause, or after menopause.

You guessed it; the desire for sex will now be even lower. This is because libido is all about energy. The symptoms above all lead to one thing: less energy. This physical and emotional toll that occurs depletes a woman of her energy and inevitably sex will be the last thing on her mind.

Lower Estrogen Levels Are to Blame

What happens during menopause is the estrogen that is naturally produced in the body is no longer being produced as much. This hormone change results in all the symptoms listed above. The symptoms above unfortunately lead to a huge decrease in sex drive. A decreased sex drive could result in tension between you and your spouse or partner.

Managing Your Decreased Sex Drive

Focus on Intimacy

Spend more time cuddling with each other or enjoying each other’s company without engaging in sexual activity. You will appreciate each other more and this could boost your sex drive.

Seek Out Professional Help

If you and your partner feels affected by your newly decreased libido, then you should consult your OBGYN who will work with you to resolve the issue. And often times all that is needed is lubrication. But other options such as hormone therapy involving restoring estrogen levels may be the solution.

Dr. Torbati offers treatment for postmenopausal loss of sex drive at his OB-GYN private practice located in Tarzana, CA.

What To Expect During Menopause – Symptoms & Treatment

Filled with confidenceWhile menopause is a normal part of aging for women that occurs between the ages 45 and 55 years, not all women know what to expect when their ovaries stop producing eggs and the menstrual cycles dwindle, eventually coming to a complete halt.

The medical definition for menopause is when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for 12 months. During this transition, there is reduced production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, which is what causes the periods to become increasingly irregular until they stop, resulting in multiple physical and psychological symptoms in women.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of menopause usually appear in the perimenopause phase, which is several years before you reach menopause. Different women experience different symptoms, and to varying degrees. That said, there are some that are more common among many women, indicating the approach of menopause and beyond. These include:

  • Hot flashes – about 75 percent of women have reported an increase in temperature due to changes in estrogen level. It usually leads to sweating.
  • Mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and occasional memory loss – some women occasionally find it hard to concentrate or remember things, which may cause reduced self-esteem or depression.
  • Mild incontinence – some women experience reduced bladder control during peri-menopause and beyond, leading to minor cases of urine leakage, like when sneezing or laughing.
  • Changes to appearance – decreasing levels of estrogen hormone lead to increased wrinkling and other physical changes, such as thinning hair, loss of breast fullness, and increased abdominal fat.
  • Sexual changes – lower estrogen can also caused reduced vaginal lubrication or dryness, which may cause painful intercourse. Additionally, reduced blood flow to your sexual organs may cause lower sensitivity.
  • Sleep disturbances – around 40 percent of women have reported different types of sleep disturbances, such as sleep apnea, or difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  • Irregular periods – changes to your menstrual cycles typically occur before completely stopping. They may become shorter, longer, lighter, or heavier.
  • Fatigue or joint pain.

Some women may also experience chronic medical changes due to the changes in their bodies. Possible menopause-related complications include weight gain, cardiovascular disease, incontinence, and osteoporosis.

Treating the Symptoms

Women who have reached menopause usually experience more severe symptoms than those approaching it (perimenopause), usually due to the complete lack of estrogen. Some of the symptoms can be managed by replacing the missing estrogen, but the symptoms should resume once you stop taking the drugs.

The simplest way to manage the symptoms is by staying in good health. This entails:

  • Regular exercising – 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity
  • Healthy eating habits – take a balanced diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D, and avoid sugars, oils, and saturated fats.
  • Getting enough sleep – exercise, avoid caffeine, and use relaxation techniques.
  • Lifestyle changes – stop smoking.

Maintaining a varied diet is particularly important after menopause. Consume whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Dairy products are good for calcium, while 20 minutes of sunlight should provide you with vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium.