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For many women, going through the menopause is anything but plain sailing. As if you didn't have enough to contend with, from hot flushes, sweating throughout the night, palpitations and possible insomnia, you may have to deal with a low libido too. Unfortunately the menopause is not something you can prevent, but there are ways you can make your life a whole lot easier and have a flourishing sex life again.
A healthy sex life can benefit you in all sorts of ways, from stress relief to strengthening your connection with your partner. In fact, research suggests that sex boosts your metabolism and releases happy hormones, giving you that wonderful 'just had sex' glow, to say nothing of the calories you can burn in one session. So exactly how does the menopause affect your libido?
The lack of sex drive is mainly down to the lower levels of oestrogen and testosterone - the two hormones that are also to blame for the many changes you're experiencing in your body in general – however there are other factors associated with the menopause that will possibly affect your sex drive:
Put simply, your body just isn't up for it. You're not easily aroused – in your mind as well as physically – making sex less enjoyable from the off. This teamed with the discomfort caused by vaginal dryness makes sex an uphill battle.
As you can see these are mainly factors that can be tackled and resolved so, if you are concerned about a low libido, don't just put it down to getting older. It can be frustrating when your love life is affected by a condition you can't avoid. Luckily, there are a number of treatment options available to help you.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy: there are various HRT treatments available that boost your oestrogen levels, reducing many of the side effects associated with the menopause.
- Communication: every cloud has a silver lining. If your sex drive is low, you could try exploring the options and trying something new, such as extended foreplay, roleplaying or using toys and accessories to get you in the mood.
- Intimacy: even if you don't feel like having sex right now, there is no reason why you can't continue to show your affection with each other. Revisit old-fashioned romance, from cooking dinner for each other to just holding hands.
- Lubrication: there are moisturisers available to help tackle the discomfort of vaginal dryness, as well as various lubricants that can help you feel more pleasure during sex. If you are using condoms, however, make sure you stick to water-based varieties, as some lubricants can damage latex.
- Alter your diet: there's no concrete evidence behind this, but some research suggest alterations in your diet can aid in raising your libido. Foods classed as aphrodisiacs include chocolate, oyster, figs and avocados.
- Kick the bad habits: not only will this improve your health in general but it could aid your sex drive too. Examples include getting an extra hour sleep every day or quitting smoking for good.
Once the menopause is over, you can consider oestrogen replacement to continue improving your libido. While improving your sex drive is important, you should also consider the health issues associated with post-menopausal life. For example, there is an increased risk of heart disease, meaning many post-menopausal women require additional check-ups to monitor their cholesterol.
This isn't the Ice Age - we haven't crawled out of our cave with nothing but the clothes on our back. The 21st century includes many opportunities to combat your problems, and with great success. Yes, the menopause can be a difficult time but you needn't suffer. Explore your options and find the right treatment to improve not only your standard of living but your sex life too.