Feeling like you lost your mojo once you hit mid-life? And now, you’re not only dealing with menopause symptoms like irritability and hot flashes, but your libido is nonexistent and even if you wanted to have sex–it’s actually become painful!
Experiencing a low sex drive after menopause actually has an underlying cause, and there are ways you can regain balance and have great sex after menopause. Read on to find out why sexual desire declines and how you can enjoy some of the benefits that a healthy sex life brings to the table.
Nowhere near menopause yet? Keep reading because there are important things you need to keep in mind too—and remember, we all make it here eventually!
Sex After Menopause
Before we dive in, know that you can have a satisfying and enjoyable sex life after menopause. And even though complaints about low sex drive in midlife are common, they don’t have to be your normal.
So why does sex become uncomfortable after menopause?
Changes in your libido, arousal, and ability to reach a climax occur because of hormonal shifts in estrogen and progesterone. This can cause:
- Painful sex
- Difficulty reaching orgasm
- Low sex drive or libido
- Mood swings, irritability
- Decrease in lubrication
Before we talk about how to have better sex after menopause, it’s important to understand how your hormones are changing, and how getting them back into balance can help your libido, arousal, and comfort during sex.
Hormonal Changes Affect Sex Drive and Arousal
In your 40s or early 50s, hormones begin to gradually shift before you reach menopause–this is a transition known as perimenopause, and accompanies symptoms like mood swings, weight gain, and a low sex drive.
During perimenopause, progesterone declines and this makes it difficult to reach a climax and it also negatively affects your mood. You might notice you’re just not as into your partner, and that you’re more irritable than normal as progesterone decreases.
Then, your ovaries gradually decrease production of estrogen and with this comes less natural lubrication and strength in your pelvic region–so now, sex is downright uncomfortable.
Not to mention, you just don’t feel as sexy–and that’s a big deal, because a healthy libido actually has many real benefits for your health.
Benefits of Sex After Menopause
Having a healthy sex drive brings with it some significant benefits for your health, including anti-aging, the release of mood-boosting hormones, and better quality sleep.
Anti-aging. Being sexually active and having orgasms increases the release of anti-aging oxytocin, which also buffers the pro-aging hormone, cortisol (1).
Better sleep. Vasopressin, another chemical naturally released during orgasm, is often accompanied by the release of melatonin, which is the main hormone responsible for regulating sleep (2).
Connection with your partner. A healthy sex life supports communication and intimacy with your partner, and can make time spent together even more enjoyable for both of you.
Pelvic floor health. Keeping the organs and tissues in your pelvic region healthy is crucial after menopause. Having an orgasm supports healthy pelvic circulation, which increases blood flow that carries oxygen and nutrients to the organs and tissues in your pelvis.
All these benefits of having sex after menopause are in addition to the overall vitality and quality of life that a healthy sexual energy can bring you–so let’s find out how to revitalitze your sex after menopause!
Increasing Libido Naturally
While it’s true that your ovaries are no longer producing hormones, what you may not know is the focus now shifts to your adrenal glands, as they’re still hard at work picking up the slack for the essential hormone production your body still needs (3).
Supporting your adrenal glands is one major way you can positively impact your sex drive, libido, and overall quality of life during perimenopause and after menopause.
Keep Stress to a Minimum
When your body is under stress, your adrenal glands go into survival mode and choose to produce cortisol instead of sex hormones necessary for desire and arousal.
So if your adrenal glands are overworked, you’re less likely to have enough hormones for your body to be interested in sex.
While progesterone can drop to near zero after menopause, you still have circulating estrogens. And in addition to being exposed to environmental estrogens, this can cause a troublesome hormone imbalance known as estrogen dominance. It’s important to decrease exposure to xeno-estrogens and endocrine disruptors in your home.
While you might think alcohol will help you get in the mood, it actually does the exact opposite after menopause–making it harder for your brain to communicate arousal signals to your body.
Eat Plenty of Healthy Fats
Your adrenal glands need plenty of healthy fats to produce hormones like DHEA, testosterone, estrogen and others. Without enough dietary fats, your adrenal glands can’t function properly and this can spell trouble for your sex drive and symptoms like vaginal dryness and comfort during sex.
If your exercise routine is leaving you exhausted, and it takes multiple days to recover, your workout is likely tanking your energy, hormones, and therefore your libido. This phase of life isn’t about pushing harder or burning more calories–and in fact, this mentality is often detrimental to women of any age.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Medications such as blood pressure pills, diabetes medications, antidepressants and SSRIs, plus others can have a significant impact on your libido and can worsen symptoms of vaginal dryness. We’ll talk about some solutions for this in a moment, but it’s important to speak with your provider about how your medications affect your sexual desire and comfort.
Boosting Arousal and Pleasure with East West Medicine
What does your body need to fuel a healthy sex drive after menopause? Learn which foods, herbs, and nutrients your libido needs.
Boost your libido with dark chocolate. Aim for dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao or above to boost dopamine, a hormone that’s associated with pleasure and motivation (4). Plus, dark chocolate has flavonoids that support healthy blood vessels and circulation which are crucial for arousal.
Add anti-inflammatories to support healthy hormones and increase circulation to the pelvis. Foods like pineapple, papaya, blueberries, ginger, and turmeric can help support healthy ciruclation and modulate systemic inflammation that can interfere with a healthy sex drive.
Try adaptogenic herbs. Maca can help balance cortisol, support adrenal function, and promote healthy levels of estrogen and testosterone (5). (Plus, research also shows it can help with hot flashes!)
Rhodiola supports a stable mood, and has been shown to play a role in libido and sexual desire (6). Rhodiola is a great choice for both men and women.
Feed your adrenal glands. Make sure you’re eating a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin C for healthy adrenal function.
Painful Sex After Menopause
Hormonal shifts are often the root cause of painful sex after menopause, caused by:
- Vaginal dryness
- Thinning of vaginal walls
- Reduced elasticity
Finding your hormone balance after menopause can have a significant positive impact on the above symptoms, but here are a few other remedies and things to remember.
Foreplay is very important (and doesn’t always start in the bedroom).
Good sex happens when you feel supported and loved by your partner in ways that matter to you. Then, once you get into the bedroom, expect to spend about 15 to 20 minutes ‘warming up’ before progressing to the main act, which may also take another 20 minutes or so.
Bottom line: Take your time.
As estrogen declines after menopause, vaginal walls become less elastic, and lubrication decreases, which can make penetration painful and uncomfortable.
DHEA has been shown to improve vaginal dryness, increase lubrication, and support the health of pelvic floor muscles (7). DHEA can also be beneficial if you experience pain during sex.
What is DHEA? DHEA is a precursor hormone made by your adrenal glands that is then converted to other hormones like estrogen or testosterone.
I strongly encourage you to get your hormone levels tested before beginning any kind of hormone therapy, as this will help you understand what your body really needs.
If you’re experiencing a low libido, pain during sex, dryness, or any other uncomfotable symptom, I recommend hormone testing to get to the root cause of your issues.
Better Sex After Menopause
While there are some people who will insist that not having sexual desire after menopause is “normal,” rest assured that a healthy sexual energy and libido are very important to women’s health at any age.
Better sex after menopause is possible by supporting your body during its transition, and properly caring for your adrenals after you reach menopause. Keeping stress to a minimum, eating a nutrient-dense diet, and working with an integrative medicine doctor to balance your hormones is the formula for a satisfying and enjoyable sex life after menopause.
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