Libido or lack thereof, is one of the major concerns menopausal women present with. Libido tends to decline, in most women, during the later stage of perimenopause and progresses through to menopause.
Women complain of either diminished or absent sexual desire or, reduced sexual function and gratification. The reasons as to why libido declines with age are plentiful however, the main cause tends to be attributed to declining hormone levels.
The main reason behind having a strong libido is to increase the chances of conception and therefore procreation. In our most fertile years, our hormones are at their highest and so is our libido. Biologically, as our hormones reduce, there is an absence of fertility and as a result, libido declines as the ability to procreate stops. This biological process often does not fit into our lifestyle or relationships, and can often cause quite a bit of stress for the individual.
As we progress through menopause, Oestrogen and Testosterone levels decline. These hormones are the main drivers behind our libido, from a biological perspective, and low levels of either of these hormones, tend to contribute to low libido.
Once we progress through menopause we would have been exposed to varying degrees of stress throughout our lives. Quite often, many personal and occupational changes have been made and compounded with this, we tend to feel like a foreign person due to the fluctuations in hormones. Because of this compounded stress, libido can also decline. Our adrenal glands may not function optimally and this may lead to a decline in DHEA. DHEA is a hormone that can convert into Oestrogen and Testosterone, particularly during menopause.
Due to declining Oestrogen levels, the vaginal walls may undergo structural changes and this may result in vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and general vaginal discomfort. These symptoms can be a deterrent to a healthy libido as well as reduce the ability to experience sexual gratification and climaxing during sexual activity.
Depending on the cause of a declining libido, many treatment options are available. To determine the best possible treatment for you, it is always best to speak to our experienced doctors.
In general, the first option is to assess your hormonal status. If there is a specific deficiency such as, Oestrogen and/or Testosterone, these hormones may be prescribed. Depending on the degree of libido concerns, various applications such as creams, troches or injections (for testosterone) may be utilised to enhance your libido.
When looking at a reduced ability to climax, vaginal gels, comprised of aminophylline and arginine may be prescribed. This gel contains a base of ingredients that enhance blood flow to the vulva and by doing this, increases the chances of climaxing.
If there is an issue with feeling a closeness with your partner, Oxytocin may be prescribed. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone and acts as a neurotransmitter. This hormone is produced at childbirth to provide a bond between the mother and child. It has a strong influence on our ability to socially interact, improve intimacy and can also have an influence on climaxing. It is generally termed the love hormone and intimacy can naturally improve the production of oxytocin.
Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse may need to be investigated further via a physical examination through your GP. However, in many instances, utilising an Oestriol vaginal pessary may be of benefit and can greatly improve vaginal lubrication.
Stress is a very large component of our lives and if not addressed, can place an emotional strain on our personal lives. In some instances, implementing stress reduction strategies or even seeking professional assistance can be of great benefit to clear the cob webs that may prevent the individual from being emotionally and physically involved with their partner.
If libido is a concern for you, have a chat to our friendly staff to determine the best treatment for you.
Written by Annmarie Cannone
M.Hum Nut, Grad Dip Naturopathy, B.App Sci (Naturopathic Studies)