I don’t feel like having sex any more, is menopause causing that?
During menopause you may find that you libido or desire to have sex will reduce and you no longer have an interest in sex. This may in part be due to hormonal changes. The impact of hormonal change on female libido is a complex area and not completely understood. Prior to menopause, a woman’s sex drive appears to be linked to the menstrual cycle, with your sex drive being at its highest just prior and after you ovulate, probably due to a rise in progesterone levels. When you no longer have a menstrual cycle, your hormones change, resulting in reduced levels of progesterone, testosterone and estrogen, which can result in a lack of interest in sex.
There may also be other factors during menopause that can contribute to a change in your sex drive. Some women experience sleep disturbance during menopause and fatigue can greatly affect your interest and energy in regards to having sex. Also, if you are experiencing mood changes or anxiety as a result of menopause, these can also greatly affect your desire to have sex. Vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissues can result in painful sex, this can cause your sex drive to understandably come to a grinding halt. However, other factors not related to menopause can also impact sex drive such as work and relationship problems, being overweight and not getting enough exercise.
Emotional and hormone imbalance have a great impact on how we feel, our thoughts and how we respond to situations, so there is no wonder that women may experience a decline in their sex drive during the menopause. However, it is important to remember that nothing lasts forever and menopause is a natural part of life and will pass and balance can and will return to your life. In the meantime, if your life is being negatively impacted by the menopause, it is advisable to see your GP or a clinician at Menopause Treatment Clinic to discuss treatment options to help overcome physical and emotion symptoms of the menopause.
It is painful for me to have sex, so I avoid it. Is there anything that can help?
The decline in estrogen levels due to menopause can cause thinning of the vaginal tissues, vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy. This results in pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse, medically known as dyspareunia. Vaginal dryness causes friction during intercourse which causes inflammation and the vagina can feel tighter due to it stretching less. Pain and inflammation can be experienced before, during and for sometimes after having sex. Continued inflammation due to unlubricated intercourse can result in vaginal atrophy, which is the tearing and or bleeding of the vaginal tissue.
Luckily, there are ways in which you can reduce your chances of dyspareunia. Firstly, if you are experiencing vaginal dryness, then a good water based lubricant is a must when it comes to sex. Becoming sexually aroused will also naturally lubricate the vagina, helping to reduce the chances of pain and discomfort. Talk to your partner and explain what is happening so he can understand, and take the time you need. It is important that you do not use soaps, deodorants, powders or sprays around your vaginal area as these can cause even more irritation. It is best to wear cotton underwear that allows air flow and reduces sweating. However, if you find that despite following these practises, you are still experiencing pain and discomfort, it is important to see a doctor before further damage is done. During your consultation the doctor will first rule out that there is no other cause for dyspareunia. If your pain is as a result of the menopause, the doctor will discuss with you the range of options that are available. The majority of the treatment options are estrogen based in order to overcome the vaginal dryness and associated symptoms, as local replacement of oestrogen can help
rejuvenate the tissues, even in women who cant or don’t want to use hormone replacement therapy.
Will hormone therapy improve my sex life?
Hormone therapy can help women regain their interest in sex, though it is not always helpful. Hormone therapy comprises of female hormones that help to treat the symptoms associated with menopause. Using hormone therapy can greatly reduce symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes, disturbed sleep and low libido. Testosterone replacement is an area being intensively researched currently, as it is likely to be helpful for some women. However, there are currently no accepted widely available testosterone replacement products available on prescription. This, however, is likely to change. If you are having difficulties with a low sex drive since hitting menopause, then hormone therapy could help you get back on track to having a healthy sex life. There are various types of hormone therapy available, which can be explored and discussed with your doctor or a clinician at The Menopause Treatment Clinic.
Can you get pregnancy during menopause?
You cannot fall pregnant when you reach menopause, which is technically 1 year after your last period, however, there is still a chance that you may fall pregnant during perimenopause. The stage in between your last period and hitting the 1 year anniversary of your last period (menopause) is called perimenopause. During perimenopause, it is still possible to become pregnant, although your chances of falling pregnant becomes less likely. Although the risk of falling pregnant will significantly reduced during perimenopause, contraception should still be used until a year after your last period, when you reach menopause after the age of 50 years. Before the age of 50, contraception should be continued for 2 years after the last period. During perimenopause you can still experience periods and or spotting. Although your periods may be irregular, it still means that your body is ovulating (in an unpredictable fashion) , so there is a chance that you can still conceive.
Can you catch STI after menopause?
Unfortunately, menopause does not protect you against contracting a sexually transmitted infection if you are sexually active. It is still very important to ensure that you have protected sex using a condom, unless you are in a committed relationship, whereby both parties have been screened for STI’s prior to having unprotected sex. If you have had casual unprotected sex it is extremely important to undergo STI screening, which can be done through your GP or The Menopause Treatment Clinic.