Menopause—and the hormonal changes that accompany it—can definitely put a damper on a woman’s libido. In fact, up to 40% of women over age 60 report having low libido.
To find out why so many women lose interest in sex after menopause—and determine if there are other factors beyond menopausal changes that make sex less appealing to postmenopausal women—researchers at the University of Pittsburgh recently conducted a qualitative study. (This type of research involves a small sample of participants to gain a thorough understanding of a topic.) A total of 36 women ages 60 to 71 with low libido were interviewed privately or in group sessions.
Not surprisingly, vaginal symptoms, a well-known byproduct of menopause, were a common complaint among the study participants. The symptoms, including vaginal dryness and a feeling of tightness, often made intercourse painful, which dampened the women’s sexual desire. While some of the study participants were helped by vaginal estrogen or natural lubricants, such as coconut oil, the results were not consistently positive. However, women who tried pelvic floor exercises—also known as Kegels—on their own or with a trained physical therapist reported generally good results.
factors that contributed to the study participants’ low libido…
- Fatigue and pain. Painful physical conditions, such as spinal cord issues or diabetic neuropathy, joint pain or having less stamina, in general, curbed sexual desire for many of the study participants. To address these issues, some women said they got an adjustable bed and/or tried different sexual positions.
Other ways to liven up your sex life…
Study takeaway: Because low libido
in women over age 60 can have a variety of causes, health-care providers should
not automatically attribute it to “normal” aging or menopause. There are ways
to keep intimacy alive, but it takes experimentation—what works for one woman
doesn’t necessarily work for another. Good communication between sexual
partners is a must. If it’s lacking, couples-based therapy or counseling on how
to discuss sex with your partner may help.
Want to know what really happens during a sex therapy appointment? Read here.
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