Listen up, ladies. We’ve all heard the horror stories about menopause and the myriad changes to our bodies that come along with it, including a decreased sex drive. But just because you’re beginning or are in the thick of this stage of life doesn’t mean that you have to simply accept a lowered libido and a vanilla or even nonexistent sex life.
To really keep the spark alive, first get a handle on what may be causing your lowered sex drive, and then make a few lifestyle changes to help counteract those effects.
What Causes Lowered Libido in Women?
As women approach menopause, declining estrogen levels can wreak havoc on the body. With less estrogen, women experience an imbalance of sex hormones, which also include testosterone and progesterone. When in harmony, these hormones are responsible for female arousal and sexual sensitivity and satisfaction. When estrogen walks out the door, that’s when vaginal dryness and a lowered sex drive take the stage.
On top of this, other symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and even depression, can really put a damper on your sex drive. This is, of course, in addition to all of the other stressors in your life that can equally get in the way of your enjoyment between the sheets (Journal of Women’s Health). This is because women are wired to be both mentally and physically engaged into order to enjoy sex, whereas men tend to be much more physically-driven. Lucky them.
What Can You Do to Increase Your Sex Drive?
So does this mean that every woman over 40 is destined for a life without healthy sex? Fortunately, the answer is absolutely not. Although this common, yet often hush-hush aspect of women’s health can be tricky to deal with, know that there are a number of things you can do to help avoid the sexual pitfalls of menopause, including:
- Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy: Because many of the negative side effects that stem from menopause are caused by a hormonal imbalance, hormone replacement therapy is thought to be one of the most effective treatment options. Bio-identical hormones are derived from plant sources like yams and soy and are molecularly identical to the hormones that our bodies would manufacture naturally (Harvard Health Publications). If you’re interested in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, this is definitely something you’ll want to discuss with your doctor to see if you might be a good candidate.
- Meditation or yoga: Whether we’re fully aware of it or not, stress plays a huge role in our lives. Not only can it kill our sex drives, but it can also lead to a whole host of other health problems, including a lowered immune system and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (American Heart Association). Practicing meditation exercises regularly can help to lower your levels of chronic stress and better manage smaller bouts of acute stress that arise throughout your day. In turn, you just might find that a clear, calm mind can give way to more satisfying and enjoyable intimate relationships.
- Exercise: Getting regular exercise is just about the best thing you can do to improve every aspect of your life, including your sex drive. Exercise benefits our bodies in a number of ways, including getting our blood flowing, helping us maintain a stable, healthy weight, improving our mood, and giving us the boost of self-confidence we need to fully enjoy sex.
- Eat a Mediterranean diet: A study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research found a link between eating a Mediterranean diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil and experiencing an increased sex drive. While the exact biological mechanisms for why this may be the case are still unclear, there is something to be said for eating a clean, balanced diet in order to improve your overall health and maybe even your sexual function.
The Bottom Line
If you’re struggling with a lowered sex drive, know that you’re not alone. This is a common problem for many women over 40, yet, unfortunately, it’s often swept under the rug as an embarrassing topic. It’s precisely for situations like this one that the Women’s Health Conversations Conference is such an important and exciting event. This event gives women the chance to freely and openly discuss any and all topics regarding women’s health with other women. It’s truly an empowering experience.
If you’re interested in becoming a part of this national conversation, there’s still time to register for the 2016 conference, which will be held November 3rd and 4th in Pittsburgh, PA.