Loss Of Libido In Women Over 50
Women go through a major hormonal imbalance during peri and post menopause. This imbalance can cause just a “few” <insert sarcasm here> life altering symptoms (like hot flashes, depression, night sweats and insomnia), including loss of libido (sex drive). However, there is no one thing that can be blamed for a decrease in libido; it is an alchemy of hormones, psychology and circumstance.
There are 3 hormones that have an effect on libido: Testosterone, Progesterone and Estrogen. During perimenopause, the production of these hormones decrease which can cause hot flashes, depression, insomnia, midsection weight gain, night sweats, moodiness…and, decrease in sexual desire.
Emotional, Spiritual & Relationship Well Being
The truth is hormone levels are just one part of the libido story. There are two other important, yet underestimated, influences that impact our sexual desire: 1. the state of your relationship and circumstances with your partner at this time and, 2. your overall emotional and spiritual well being and love for life and for yourself. And, the BIG TRUTH is that these two influences may have the potential to change hormone levels on their own, without treatment.
It has been documented that women who are in healthy relationships with their partners have less over all menopausal symptoms, including decreased sexual desire, than those women who are unhappy with their relationships. The women who love life, are confident, love who they are and feel sexy can continue to have a strong libido regardless of what their hormones are doing.
For those women who aren’t in happy, healthy relationships and haven’t been for some time, their libido, naturally, suffers. Many women find that this is the time to make changes and the time to re-evaluate relationships and themselves. Any changes need to begin with you by working on the relationship you have with yourself. Seriously consider the things that make you happy, what your true desires are and explore ways to grow spiritually.
As women, we are natural caregivers, giving the first half of our lives and within every relationship we’ve ever had. We give birth and care for that child endlessly, we care for our spouse or partner, we care for our aging parents, we care for the dog, the house, the bills, laundry, the dishes, the meals, all the while having a job 8 hrs a day…But, how much and how often have we taken care of ourselves? Is it any wonder our sexual drive is put in neutral? In this second half of our lives, we need to take care of ourselves. To love ourselves and our lives. Take a look, a close look at your life. Do you love your life? Do you love yourself? Is it time to re-evaluate your relationship(s)? How do you feel about aging? Do you know how to pleasure yourself? All important questions to examine; and, you may be surprised by what you discover.
Even if your relationship is solid and your partner is supportive, it is still possible for the libido to take a hit. If, when you examine your life’s circumstances and everything comes up roses, yet your libido is less than desirable you should see your doctor for an exam and hormone level testing. Let’s take a look at the hormones (partially) responsible for our sexual desire:
- Estrogen – Low levels can make a woman less sensitive to touch and vibration; can cause thinning of the vaginal and urethral tissue that can lead to painful intercourse; can decrease vaginal fluid production during sexual arousal with can cause dryness and ultimately pain
- Progesterone – Like with estrogen, low levels can lead to decreased sensitivity; acts to maintain existing libido; also acts as a mood stabilizer and supports normal thyroid function
- Testosterone – Probably the least common cause for a woman’s waning libido, but it is possible. Testosterone is responsible for the sex drive in both women and men.
What Can I Do?
If you’ve consulted your doctor and your hormone levels are clinically low, then HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is an option. However, be aware of the risks involved with HRT…increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and breast cancer. We’re going to focus on a few natural strategies here that have NO SIDE EFFECTS:
- Herbal Remedies – These herbs contain phytoestrogens that have NO SIDE EFFECTS as with synthetic estrogen.
- Black Cohosh: aids with hot flashes & night sweats, mood swings, sleep disorders, body aches
- Don Quai: when used in combination with other plants, relieves many menopausal symptoms
- Maca: enhances sexuality in both men and women, increases estrogen production, decreases cortisol (stress hormone) levels
- Saint John’s Wort: aids in mild to moderate depression, relieves hot flashes (consult your doctor if you are currently on any prescription meds)
- Red Clover: Relieves hot flashes
Most of these herbs can be found at one fantastic organic shop:
2. Nutritional Supplements
- Fish oil: relieves hot flashes, moderate to severe psychological distress
- Vit. C & Flavanoids: hot flashes
- Vit. E: relieves hot flashes; increases blood supply to the vaginal wall; relieves dryness when used topically in oil, cream, ointment or suppository
You can find these supplements at your local grocery store, drug store or vitamin shop.
3. Exercise: 3 1/2 hrs per week of regular physical exercise can decrease or eliminate hot flashes altogether, improves circulation, increase self esteem, mood and frame of mind.
4. Diet: Increasing plants foods containing phytoestrogens and decreasing animal foods can improve all menopausal symptoms. See my section on nutrition as well.
5. Kegels: Kegel exercises strengthen a muscle in the pelvic floor, behind the perineum (the flesh between the vagina and the anus). Kegels not only improve your sex life, but also help to control urine flow or incontinence. To perform kegel exercises, you must first identify the muscle by stopping your urine during mid-flow. Remember how it feels and how to squeeze the muscle to do this, then, you’ll be able to do it any time. I suggest 3 times a day while urinating and, all throughout the day whenever you think about it. Your partner will thank you if you practice your kegels during sex, too! 😉
Loss of libido in women over 50 or during peri and post menopause is a complex matter, involving many factors: hormones, nutrition, circumstance & mental/spiritual well being. If you are married or in a relationship, take time to discuss the issues you are having with your partner. Hopefully, your partner will be supportive in seeking answers and willing to participate in any way you may need. We all need to look at ourselves, too, and discover what makes us truly happy and what we really need from our partner and ourselves. Seriously consider meditation for help in finding your way. Just know that menopause doesn’t have to mean no sex for you; rather look at this time as a new beginning to the second half of your life!
Shop for supplements here:
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Please leave your comment below…what natural remedies have you tried? What has helped? What hasn’t helped?