By Staness Jonekos
I am menopausal and no longer interested in sex. My husband and I have been married for over 10 years and we’ve always enjoyed an active, healthy sex life. When we make love now, my vagina is completely dry and it makes intercourse painful. My sex drive is completely gone. My husband is crabby about the lack of sex, and I have completely shut down physically and emotionally.
A loss of libido and vaginal dryness is a common complaint during menopause. For many women vaginal dryness can affect your libido.
Estrogen is the hormone that actually plumps up the cells in the vagina. When estrogen levels decline, the vaginal walls can become thinner, less elastic and dryer. Estrogen is important for maintaining vaginal health and lubrication.
Not only does the physical act of intercourse become a challenge with vaginal dryness, the emotional dialogue that goes on in your head when you no longer lubricate naturally, can make the encounter stressful.
Bioadhesive lubricant, such as AstroGlide, can bring immediate relief. Replens, a vaginal moisturizer, may be applied twice a week. Both can be purchased over-the-counter. Lubrication can offer vaginal protection.
Estradiol cream or tabletsapplied vaginally. If vaginal dryness is your only menopause symptom, you may consider usingthis topical medication.
Low dose hormone therapymay bring relief.
It is important to discuss vaginal dryness with your doctor to confirm that you are not suffering from a vaginal infection.
Many aspects other than vaginal dryness may contribute to a declining libido: desire, arousal, pleasure with orgasm, pain during intercourse, lack of sexual thoughts, aversion to sexual activity, sexual foreplay, lack of receptivity, and relationship satisfaction.
Factors that affect sexual health
Emotional: Feeling unattractive, being depressed, feeling tired, suffering from lack of sleep, moodiness, feeling isolated, not being happy
Blood pressure medications
Relationship satisfactionor dissatisfaction
Midlife stress: career change, relationships, loss, divorce, caring for parents, and financial concerns
Managing a declining libido
Discuss options with your practitioner. If fluctuating hormones are affecting your libido there are therapies available. Review current medications and medical conditions.
Communication and support: Talk to your partner
Counseling or sex therapy,or both
Adjust lovemaking activities:try warm baths before genital sexual activity, extend foreplay, incorporate massages, change your sexual routine, experiment with positions, discuss sexual fantasies
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Exercisemost days of the week
Besides the effects of menopause, it is also normal for your libido to decline with age. Between the ages of 55 and 65 sexual activity slows for men and women.
There are many benefits to having a healthy sex life:
Sex burns about 200 caloriesduring 30 minutes of active sex.
Regular sex promotes circulation and lubrication.
Having sex three times a week can make you look and feel ten years younger, thus boosting self esteem.
Sex is the safest sportyou’ll ever enjoy.
Sex releases endorphinsinto the bloodstream producing a sense of euphoria that can reduce depression.
Sex is a stress reliever. It is ten times more effective than Valium.
Sex can relieve headachesby releasing the tension that restricts blood vessels in the brain.
Sex is a natural antihistaminethat can help with asthma and hay fever.
Sex can lower your cholesterol by tipping the HDL/LSL (good kind/bad kind) cholesterol balance towards the HDL (good) side.
Regular sex can boost estrogen levels.Estrogen keeps your hair shinny, skin smooth; helps reduce the chances of getting dermatitis, and rashes.
The actual sex act triggers the release of oxytocinthat promotes more good feelings.
Sex can help you sleep betterbecause the levels of oxytocin, a sleep-inducing hormone, can be 5 times higher than normal during love making.
Talking about sexual issues is the first step to managing a healthy sex life. It is a perfect time to build strong communication skills with your partner. The more your partner understands your menopausal journey the more supported you may feel.
Don’t let menopause and aging blow the flame of desire out of your love life, visit your doctor, take the appropriate tests and discuss treatment options.
Staness Jonekos is an advocate for women's health, wellness and empowerment. An award-winning television writer, producer and director, she is also co-author of The Menopause Makeover.