Has your sexual desire decreased since menopause?
In general, sex drive decreases gradually with age in both men and women, but women are two to three times more likely to be affected by a decline in sex drive as they age. Reduced sex drive becomes much more common in women starting in their late 40s and 50s. The effect of age also differs by individual: some women experience a big decrease in sexual desire beginning in their midlife years, others notice no change, and a few report increased interest in sex at midlife. Those women whose desire increases may feel liberated by their new freedom from contraception or by newly found privacy if their children have recently left home.
During the menopause transition, the physical effects of falling estrogen levels—including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness—can undermine sexual motivation and drive. Although not directly related to menopause, the age-related decrease in testosterone may reduce desire in midlife women, as this hormone plays a role in women’s sex drive and sexual sensation. The precise role of testosterone in desire is complex, however, because low sexual desire in women has not been shown to be related to testosterone levels in scientific studies. Also, some women who undergo an abrupt menopause (caused by removal of both ovaries or by chemotherapy), which leads to an immediate drop in both estrogen and testosterone, suffer a greater reduction in desire than women who experience natural menopause. Interestingly, other women in the same situation do not have a decrease in desire.
When decreased desire is a concern.
For many women in the menopause transition, a gradual decline in sexual desire does not have an important impact on overall sexuality and quality of life. For others, diminished desire and the rareness of sexual thoughts is a source of distress, undercutting their satisfaction with life and changing their sense of sexuality and self. If you are troubled by a persistent or recurrent lack of desire, you are likely to have what has been described as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” the most common sexual complaint among women.
In some cases, a woman’s loss of desire is a problem for her primarily because it frustrates her partner and threatens to weaken their relationship. This may be the case if there is a pattern of avoiding or ignoring her partner when he/she is likely to initiate sex, or if even the most romantic and relaxing vacation or weekend away fails to spark any interest in being sexual.
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