Low libido and the menopause
Not tonight dear: I’ve got a headache, night sweats, itchy skin, joint pains, low mood, nausea, palpitations...
Many women find that one of the more distressing symptoms of the menopause is that their libido or sex drive goes out of the window. This not only affects their confidence and self-worth but can have a huge impact on their relationship with their partner – they can start to feel unloved or ignored and this can lead to arguments which can cause further distress.
What causes this?
There are a number of factors that can make your libido disappear:
- Falling oestrogen levels – this can reduce arousal, reduce vaginal moisture (making intercourse painful), reduce the pleasure factor and also reduce orgasm response
- Stress – who’s not stressed?
- Fatigue – remember that falling hormones can be a huge drain on your energy reserves
- Being busy – most women at this stage are working and have family to look after and probably don’t get a moment’s rest, so when are they going to fit in some lovemaking?
- Poor sleep – getting night sweats can disrupt sleep, making you more and more tired and moody as time goes on
- Weight gain and change of body shape – this can happen in the menopause and some women don’t want to let their partner see them naked
- Some women just end up not fancying their partner anymore. Unfortunately I don’t have a remedy for this one!
4 ways to help you get back in the mood
There are several remedies that can help to boost your libido:
1. There is new research on the herb Ginkgo biloba. Although only at the initial research stage, a study has shown that the herb seems to have some oestrogen-like effects in cell culture experiments. We know that Ginkgo increases blood flow and relaxes smooth muscles, both of which are important for female sexual response. The study showed that women in the Ginkgo group found that sexual desire was significantly improved compared to the placebo group. The researchers concluded that the herb had a positive effect on sexual desire in menopausal and post menopausal women. Ginkgo also has the added benefit of helping with memory and general circulation, both of which can be affected in the menopause!
2. A fermented soya supplement such as Menopause Support is traditionally used to help gently raise and balance oestrogen, so could help when low oestrogen issues are the problem.
3. The Flower Essences can often be helpful when emotional issues are behind low desire. I often recommend Female Essence – for just being a woman and all that it entails! Mood Essence is for low mood and Relaxation Essence for when you feel run ragged!
4. One really important point to remember is that your partner may not be clued up with the menopause and how it can affect you. So do talk to them about how you feel. If you are struggling with trying to explain, just point them in the direction of my 8 things men need to know about menopause blog post!
The Ginkgo study
If you wish to read the Ginkgo study;
Pebdani MA, Taavoni S, Seyedfatemi N, Haghani H. Triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Ginkgo biloba extract on sexual desire in postmenopausal women in Tehran. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2014;19(3):262-265.