Does Menopause Affect Your Libido?

female orgasms
From the physical to the mental and everything in between, here's what you need to know about how to have an orgasm after menopause.

It’s the million dollar question, right? Does menopause affect your sex drive and your libido? With many of us finding our libido missing in action, we’d really like to know if we can still have an orgasm after menopause.The answer is yes. Falling oestrogen levels in menopause may well affect your libido – not helped by vaginal atrophy making sex painful for some women – but there are things that can help.

What can I take for low libido during menopause?

Menopause and sex drive is something that Davina McCall writes about in her brilliant book Menopausing.

“EIGHTY-four per cent of perimenopausal and menopausal women think having an active sex life is important — but 80 per cent said the perimenopause or menopause had affected their sex drive,” writes Davina, whose campaigning for more menopause education has had a hugely beneficial impact on breaking down taboos.

“I’ve been there,” writes Davina. “I felt spectacularly unattractive during my sweaty nights and my sore, dry vagina and my dry skin — and my brain fog. None of this made me feel sexy.

“But I want you all to know that you can, and will, have mind-blowing, swinging-from-the-chandeliers sex during and after menopause (if you want it).”

How do I get my libido back during menopause?

Have you heard of the “sex recession”? It’s a ‘thing’ apparently. (We’re not making this up.) The Telegraph reports on new survey data, that shows that 98 per cent of us assume others are doing it at least once a month. In fact, one in five UK adults has not had sex in the past four weeks.

In other words, it’s not just menopausal women who would rather read a good book. Far from it. According to the nationwide survey commissioned by Hims & Hers, 30 per cent of us are having less sex as a direct result of the cost of living crisis.

At Hylda, the mysteries of midlife sex drive are a big topic of conversation in our private Facebook group Women With Ambition, Attitude and Brain Fog. From a disappearing libido to the sometime painful sex caused by vaginal dryness, midlife sex is one hot topic. Questions range from “why can’t I orgasm any more after menopause?” to “can a woman have an orgasm after menopause naturally?”. There’s a lot we want to know!

Does libido return after menopause?

It’s actually a bit of a myth that your sex life is over once you hit menopause. There are lots of things that you can do to get your sex drive back after menopause.

We’re big fans of female orgasms. Despite their elusive and mysterious ways we know we love them, know we want them and know they do us good.

Female orgasms improve our physical and mental wellbeing, from strengthening our vaginal walls, to reducing stress, to helping us sleep. Orgasms feel pretty wonderful physically and emotionally: orgasms stimulate the love hormone oxytocin, making us feel cared for and safe.

Can a woman have an orgasm after menopause naturally?

According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) menopause can have a profound impact on a woman’s ability to orgasm.

The culprits are vaginal atrophy and dryness, caused by low oestrogen. Also, reduced blood supply to the clitoris and lower vagina. NAMS also highlights that “the clitoris—a key center of sexual pleasure for most women—is likely to be less sensitive than in earlier years, possibly due to reduced estrogen levels and changes in the vascular and nervous systems”.

What can help a woman have an orgasm after menopause?

Want to know the definition of an orgasm? “It’s a physical reflex that occurs when muscles tighten during sexual arousal and then relax through a series of rhythmic contractions,” explains Sherry Ross MD, a California-based gynae. But there are very many different types of female orgasms.

There’s clitoral, the obvious, not-so-obvious, localised orgasmic destination for most of us. There are 5,000 nerve endings there, so it makes sense. Then there’s G-Spot, the intense result of pressing/stroking the spongy bump on the front wall of the vagina, halfway between the vaginal opening and the cervix.

There are more. Blended is the ‘take the weekend off’ extreme climax when more than one erogenous zone is being stimulated at the same time. Anal (the anus is connected to the vagina and clitoris by the perineum, sharing many of the same nerves and muscles) and Deep Vaginal. Sex researchers and lucky – not actual – guinea pigs say there are additional erogenous zones deep inside the vagina. When touched, they can cause an orgasm so fierce the uterus shakes.

READ MORE Perimenopause, HRT and sex drive, the download.

More female orgasms

Add to the list Cervical (deep penetration touches the cervix and for some that gives them ‘the full-body orgasm’) and Nipple, with the super-sensitive nerve endings. A more unusual one is Exercise (or Coregasm). A study from Indiana University found 370 of 530 women surveyed had experienced orgasm or sexual pleasure whilst working out — usually from core-based exercises.

What happens to my body during orgasm?

Possibly not exactly what happens to mine. Our bodies are all different and so are our orgasms. But generally, during orgasm your vagina, uterus and anus contract rapidly; you experience muscle contractions in other parts of your body (your tummy and feet, for instance); your heart rate and breathing quicken; and your blood pressure increases.

Your orgasm could be more intense than mine, last longer than mine, be wetter than mine. (I forgot to add Squirting to the list of orgasms. OCD-me is already freaking out about your sheets.)

What’s the Orgasm Gap?

Highly unfair, is what it is. Based on a study conducted by Durex in the Netherlands, research showed, in straight sex, almost 75% of women do not orgasm during sex, compared to 28% of men.

Do perimenopause and menopause affect orgasms?

In a word, yes. The menopause-related issues that mess with libido (hormone changes, vaginal dryness) can also screw the ability to achieve orgasm. Low oestrogen can cause vaginal atrophy (so no vaginal orgasms if you can’t tolerate penetration) and reduced oestrogen can also result in less blood supply to the clitoris and lower vagina.

READ MORE What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

Changes to the vascular and nervous systems can also toy with the ultra-sensitive clitoris. A survey in America, cited in this piece, found that 5% of US women have difficulty achieving orgasm. The rate of these problems was higher among women aged 45 to 64 and those 65+ (6% in both groups) than the 3% in women younger than 45.

READ MORE How does menopause affect your libido?

How do I get great orgasms in midlife? 

As you know, arousal – and therefore orgasm – depends on a smorgasbord of ‘stuff’. Psychological and physical stuff. The issues that reduce libido – hormones, depression, stress, medication, relationship problems – can nix arousal and orgasms too. 

Strong vaginal walls can mean better orgasms and more sensitivity, so maintaining vaginal muscles and your pelvic floor during menopause is very important. Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox, whose advice on midlife sex we always trust, has designed a set of kegel balls to help with pelvic floor health. Get yourself a set and squeeeeeze those orgasms into shape.

READ MORE Tracey Cox on better sex and the menopause.

Get excited, too, about this insight from sex and relationships expert Alix Fox. “The decline in oestrogen does have one great bonus,” she says. “It causes the vaginal walls to thin slightly, so it can make the G-spot easier to access and more sensitive to stimulation.” See? Every cloud has a silver (thinning) lining… 

And get some sex toys…

Which sex toys will help me orgasm?

As I’m sure you’re tired of reading, that midlife drop in oestrogen equals a drop in blood supply to the vagina. That can cause the unholy – unsexy – trinity of dryness, weak muscle tone and not enough lubrication. That losing combination will never mean great orgasms.

Sex toys stimulate the blood flow, so all can be good – great – again. As previously mentioned, I suggest you splash out on author and sexpert Tracey Cox’s new Supersex range for Lovehoney. Made from squishy soft silicone and designed specifically for women who find sex uncomfortable or painful, the toys work together to keep couples sexually satisfied and their sex organs healthier.

A few of our favourites from the range:

Tracey Cox Supersex Powerful Rechargeable Wand Vibrator, £64.99. Buy it now.

The Tracey Cox Supersex Powerful Rechargeable Bullet Vibrator, £44.99. Buy it now.

Tracey Cox Supersex Powerful Rechargeable Clitoral Vibrator, £49.99. Buy it now.

Tracey Cox Supersex Orgasm Gel, £9.99. Buy it now.

Tracey has been writing about sex and relationships for more than 20 years, and with a new book Great Sex Starts at 50, she is the go-to guru for any menopause and midlife sex tips.

“I use a blend of research, case studies, practical techniques, and personal anecdotes to show you how to arouse yourself and your partner, regain your passion, navigate relationship issues, and create the perfect conditions for sex,” she says of the book. Who doesn’t want a bit of that?

So there you have the ins and outs of midlife orgasms. We hope you’ll come again. (Sorry, I really couldn’t resist.)

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