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Q&A: How Does Menopause Affect Sexual Intercourse?

Menopause changes the way the body works, which causes menopausal symptoms. As the body prepares for the menopause transition, the three primary sex hormones begin to decrease and fluctuate, which can wreak havoc on the body. Considering the decrease in sex hormones, in some cases sexual function can be affected. Keep reading to find out about symptoms that could affect your sex life.

Loss of libido and vaginal dryness

Which Menopausal Symptoms Affect Sex?

In terms of which symptoms affect sex directly, there are just two. However many other can have an indirect impact. For example, if you're troubled by night sweats and fatigue, you may not have the energy for sex.

Loss of libido

Caused by imbalanced hormones, a loss libido means that you may lose desire or interest in being sexually active. It may be difficult to become aroused and you may not respond to sexual stimuli. This symptom affects between 20 to 40% of menopausal women, and can be extremely frustrating. A woman's sex drive may return in postmenopause.

Vaginal dryness

This symptom affects about 60% of menopausal women and is also caused by a hormonal imbalance. When levels of estrogen drop, the tissues in the vagina thin, and vaginal secretions decrease, which in turn leads to a decrease in natural lubrication. Itching and soreness of the vaginal area are also possible.

Is There Anything I Can Do to Balance the Hormones?

The root cause of many menopausal symptoms is hormonal imbalance, so adjusting this balance is key to alleviating problematic symptoms. Fortunately, there are many lifestyle changes that can help lead to greater hormonal harmony, such as:

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Exercise for at least half an hour
  • Stay hydrated
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Take time to de-stress (e.g., yoga or meditation)
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol
  • Increase your vitamin B, C, D and E intake
  • Sleep 7-8 hours per night

Is There Anything I Can Do to Improve My Sex Life?

Absolutely. If you are suffering from a loss libido or vaginal dryness, you can try any of the following options.

  • Don't be afraid to buy and use lubrication. Apply it before and during sex, if necessary.

  • Engage in more foreplay or sexually stimulating activity before having sex. This will give your body time to prepare itself for intercourse with natural lubrication.

  • Try using vaginal creams. These will help maintain you vagina's general health and well being.

More Information about Menopause

Menopause can be a difficult time. But rebalancing your hormones can help rekindle your sex life. Click on to find out more detailed information about treatment methods.

The First Symptoms of Menopause

The first symptoms of menopause often include hot flashes, night sweats, and irregular periods. Click here to learn more about beginning menopause.

The Beginning of Menopause

The first stage of the menopause transition is known as perimenopause, and is when symptoms first appear. Learn more about its causes and treatments here.

The Effects of Caffeine during Menopause

Cutting caffeine from your diet is recommended for all menopausal symptoms. Follow this link to find out more.

Sources:
  • "Vaginal Dryness". Mayo Clinic Health Resource. 2007
  • "Vulvovaginal Symptoms". The Changing Body: Menopause Handbook. www.menopause.org
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • Thacker, H. L. MD (2009) The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause. Kaplan Publishing, New York.