Here’s a universal truth: Our bodies change. But here’s another universal truth: You can still have great sex in your 50s.
For women going through menopause, change is inevitable. And though some may experience changes like low sex drive, night sweats, anxiety and depression, or vaginal dryness—these disruptions aren’t insurmountable.
Whether your symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe, going through menopause doesn’t mean you have to give up on intimacy and physical pleasure.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of menopause that affect our sex lives during menopause, and how to address them:
Declining hormonal levels during and after menopause play a big role in why many women experience decreased sexual desire during this transition. In women, adequate levels of both estrogen and testosterone are important when it comes to producing and maintaining libido.
But during menopause, estrogen levels drop sharply, while testosterone levels decline more slowly (but continue to drop with age). And women whose ovaries are removed during menopause will likely experience an even more drastic decline in sex drive.
So how do you get your sex drive back? The good news is that effective treatment options do exist:
It’s understandable how waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat could put a damper on your sex life.
Night sweats (also called “vasomotor symptoms”) are sudden waves of extreme heat in your body that cause you to sweat profusely. Essentially, they are hot flashes that happen at night, which can cause severe discomfort, rapid heart rate, and feelings of anxiety or dread.
Like low sex drive, night sweats are caused by the fluctuation and decline of your hormones during menopause, but they can also be exacerbated by certain lifestyle factors, including stress, drinking alcohol, exercising at night, eating spicy foods, smoking, and being overweight.
Here are some effective treatments to reduce night sweats and their impact on your sex life:
It’s no secret that menopause can cause mood changes. In fact, the CDC reports that anxiety and depression levels peak in American women ages 40-59.
Anxiety and depression can also decrease your libido and feelings of arousal. To make matters more complicated, SSRIs like fluoxetine (Prozac) or paroxetine (Paxil) that can be effective for depression can also reduce your sexual responsiveness and libido. Switching to bupropion (Wellbutrin) helps some women, as it has fewer sexual side effects. Hormone therapy (HT) has also been shown to help with mood issues in women going through perimenopause and menopause.
If you’re feeling an increase of anxiety and depression, talk to your doctor about which medical treatments may be right for you, if any. However, there are some non-medical treatments that may help, too:
Vaginal dryness, also called atrophic vaginitis or GSM, can start as early as your 40s, and make your vaginal walls become drier, itchy, more irritated, and less lubricated and pliable during sex.
Caused by the decline of estrogen in your body, vaginal dryness has been shown to affect 34% of women aged 57-69, and it tends to get progressively worse with age.
Though vaginal dryness can make sex painful for some women, there are some things that can help:
Sexual arousal and satisfaction are unique to every woman: Changes in your sex life can be triggered by biological and psychological factors that are specific to you.
You know your body and sexuality best, and Evernow knows menopause treatments. If you choose to try out hormone therapies, we will guide you hand-in-hand through the process to ensure that you are a candidate, and that you have the treatment best suited to help you find relief from symptoms that may be harming your sexual desire.
If you’re interested in finding out whether you are a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy, click here.
Reviewed by Cynthia Krause, MD