The complexity of menopause transition affects every woman. Many women might remain asymptomatic, but a vast majority will go through some type of symptom. And at times, the symptoms — night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, anxiety, etc. — can be so severe that they have a negative impact on women’s lives. These symptoms are related to the decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone.
One of the most overlooked symptoms in menopause is decreased sex and intimacy. The lack of desire, vaginal dryness, and pain with sex can be a result of changing hormones levels, or even the stress of menopause itself.
Between all these symptoms, many women don’t get the help they need to keep sexual intimacy and intercourse a priority. But they should.
Libido is a complex aspect of sexuality. Many people are uncomfortable discussing it. And many times, it isn’t until menopause happens that we try to find the time to peel back the layers and figure out what libido really means for us individually.
Finding new ways to transform arousal and moments of excitement — such as pelvic physical therapy or laser vaginal rejuvenation — also restore intimacy in relationships. The incorporation of lifestyle changes, technology, and medications can together help maintain the results of arousal with vaginal lubrication and vaginal tissue changes.
Sex therapists are also extremely effective in helping foster a new sense of intimacy with partners. Their tips may include changing sexual routines, focusing on foreplay, incorporating vibrators and sex toys.
More importantly, a well-rounded approach to treating decreased libido should integrate medical and psychosexual treatments, including pelvic exercises, couples counseling, and holistic changes.
Part of this journey includes changing the narrative of how we traditionally thought of menopause. You may need more than one professional’s help, more than one treatment, and more understanding. Menopause isn’t just physical changes. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, stress, and depression, can also happen.
These changes can affect sexual intercourse and sexual desire.
There’s a plethora of therapies, medications, and resources for women in menopause that can address the sense of losing femininity and sexual attractiveness. Engaging in mind-body activities can help relieve those symptoms that interfere with sexual intimacy, desire, and even sleep quality. These include mindfulness, tai chi, acupuncture and yoga.
There’s no one answer to approaching menopause. It requires many approaches, and often it’ll take some time to find the right therapy and lifestyle change.
Stress relief techniques should be explored extensively as well. They can also improve sexual intimacy, stimulation, and feeling more comfortable with sexual activity after menopause.
Rebalancing with medications
For some, the desire for sex may still be strong, but other physical symptoms can get in the way. For example, the effects of decreased estrogen can cause vaginal atrophy, which narrows and shortens the vagina. The uterus can also prolapse and lead to discomfort, painful sex, and urinary leakage.
These symptoms can be managed using medications, including hormonal replacement therapy. HRT can come in various forms like pills, foams, patches, and vaginal creams. The goal of this therapy is to help vasomotor symptoms and vulvovaginal atrophy.
HRT is an effective treatment for vaginal changes and libido, but discuss your needs in detail with a medical professional before starting a regimen. They can ensure that no medical risks are overlooked.
If you’d like to go natural, there are herbal supplements that may help increase libido. Some supplements that have been recommended to increase libido in women include soy, black cohosh and red clover.