If you’re going through menopause—the time in a woman's life when the ovaries stop producing eggs (ovulating) and menstrual periods end—you’re likely going through a whole host of body changes. Frustrating body changes. If hot flashes and sleep issues weren’t enough, you may also be experiencing a plummet in your sex drive. (Learn more about menopause symptoms here.)
As the ovaries age, there are lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, says Sonal Chaudhry, MD, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health. “Lower levels of testosterone are associated with lower libido or lower sexual desire.”
Low sex drive during menopause can manifest in many different ways. “Sexual activity may no longer be comfortable for them. They may have concerns about how their body is changing and how their body is perceived,” says Dr. Chaudhry.
What’s more, as women become perimenopausal and menopausal, there’s a decrease in estrogen and the vagina becomes drier and less flexible, which may make sex more difficult and painful—and thus less enjoyable. Here are more reasons your sex drive is dwindling.
How to Boost Sex Drive During Menopause
Low sex drive can be frustrating, but it’s not something you have to take lying down. “There are measures that women can take to alleviate some of these symptoms,” says Dr. Chaudhry.
1. Spice things up. “For loss of libido, one recommendation is to keep things different or spontaneous, change things up a bit,” says Dr. Chaudhry. If you find that you and your partner are falling into a rut, do something different for date night, try a new position or sex toy, or light some candles one night to get you both in the mood. Variety really can be the spice of your sex life.
2. Give yourself enough time to get aroused. Nothing can kill one’s quest to orgasm like watching the clock. “It may take longer to become aroused,” says Chaudhry. “Allot a longer time for your sexual encounter.” Moisture from being aroused protects tissues and makes sex more comfortable.
3. Try a treatment. Vaginal dryness or discomfort can make sex less than enjoyable, or even painful. “If sexual activity is painful or uncomfortable, one can use vaginal moisturizers or over-the-counter lubricants. If symptoms are really severe, vaginal estrogen can also help,” says Dr. Chaudhry. Learn more about medical treatment options for menopause.
4. Get busy. Just like sticking with an exercise routine, having sex more frequently can make it easier. If you choose to have sex, doing so more often can increase blood flow to your vagina and help keep tissues healthy. “If you do increase the frequency [of sex], your level of discomfort is likely to decline over time,” says Dr. Chaudhry.
5. Communicate with your partner. “It’s important to speak frankly with your partner about the changes your body is going through and understand that the two of you together [are] adjusting to this new normal,” says Dr. Chaudhry.
Talking with your partner can not only make you both feel better, but it can strengthen your relationship—and even your sex drive. Some things to talk about may include:
What feels good and what doesn’t
Which positions are more comfortable
Whether you need more time to get aroused than before
Concerns you have about the way your appearance may be changing
Or ways to enjoy physical connection other than vaginal intercourse, such as oral sex or massage.
“It’s a process. It doesn’t need to be negative. It’s different but it can still be rewarding and fulfilling for both of you,” says Dr. Chaudhry.