How to Handle a Loss of Sex Drive

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A million little changes, best managed with a strict regimen of denial. That’s my idea of aging and even menopause. Not that I recommend this approach, mind you. It leads to no end of trouble, including throwing out a perfectly good relationship because you’ve lost all sexual interest. You think he’s to blame when, in fact, loss of sex drive is a consequence of menopause. But of course you don’t know that because you’re not really in menopause now are you?

That is exactly what happened to me years ago. Sure, my deep commitment to denial didn’t help. But trust me, I was ignorant, too. I had no idea that for most postmenopausal women, hormone-related changes are the primary factors that interfere with sexual satisfaction.

In fact, I didn’t get confirmation of this until just the other day when I ready Jane Brody’s article, “A Dip in the Sex Drive, Tied to Menopause,” in the New York Times (March 31, 2009).

She writes about how, “Many postmenopausal women experience diminished or absent sexual desire, difficulty becoming aroused or achieving orgasm, or pain during intercourse caused by menopause-related vaginal changes.” Physical changes with menopause include less blood flow to genital organs, a decrease in vaginal lubrication, and a decreased response to touch.

I know, I know. I’d much rather blame a guy, too. But that would mean a lot of unnecessary breakups. In a survey of 580 menopausal women conducted by SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, 45 percent reported a decrease in sexual desire after menopause, 37 percent reported no change and 10 percent reported an increase.

What is it about menopause that leads to no-mo’-mojo syndrome? Even though there’s been a lot of buzz about testosterone driving sex drive in women, Brody reports that for most women, the menopausal effects of low levels of estrogen are the primary deterrents to sexual pleasure. Drops in estrogen can bring on hot flashes along with drying and thinning of the vaginal walls and vulva (ouch). Also, decreased blood flow to the genital area means it can take much longer for a woman to feel aroused (and you thought orgasm was slow before?).

I could go on but I’ll close with some advice I wished I’d had. Accept that your body is changing. Then walk into your doc’s office and take charge of your mojo. Demand an overview of options for the changes you don’t like, such as a loss of sex drive. One day you will thank me because studies show that one of the best things you can do for your health and longevity is to keep on screwing.


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