On the issue of menopause and libido, what can be done about my loss of libido?
Dr Stephanie Goodwin, GP and menopause specialist replies: This is a complex and common problem. Essentially we look at two main areas – physical and psychological causes.
When oestrogen levels drop in the perimenopause, the vaginal tissues can become dry and sore. This can make sex extremely uncomfortable and sometimes intolerable. This can be treated very easily with vaginal oestrogen, usually in the form of a tiny capsule inserted into the vagina. Lubricants are also very effective, whether oil or water based. You can use oestrogen and lubes if necessary.
Low testosterone can also cause low libido. This can be treated with testosterone replacement. This treatment is currently off-licence for women in this country but it is widely used by menopause specialists. More and more GPs are also now prescribing it.
Another common symptom of oestrogen deficiency is hot flushes and hot sweats. This can result in fatigue and less interest in sex due to poor sleep and lying in a pool of sweat, neither of which are very romantic. This also responds really well to HRT.
Psychological symptoms include anxiety, depression, loss of confidence, and our feelings about changes in our body shape. These can all have an effect on our interest in sex. For some women, the thought of being a menopausal and the loss of fertility is very difficult to accept. This results in a lack of sexual interest.
At this time of life, there are many other difficult scenarios going on too – ageing parents, kids leaving home, relationship difficulties, work problems etc. All of these may chip away at interest in sex.
Do please talk to your GP. There are plenty of treatment options available. You certainly aren’t alone and sex is an important part of our lives. I have a blog that you may find helpful.
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