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Effects on sexuality and libido

Menopause can cause a loss of libido, and can decrease a woman’s desire for sexual intimacy.

Some women say it takes longer to become aroused and experience orgasm during and after menopause. The loss of desire and libido may be directly related to lower levels of the hormones oestrogen, progesterone, or testosterone. Vaginal dryness and pain may further increase the problem.

Changes in libido may not only be the result of menopausal symptoms. Breast cancer and its treatment can influence a woman’s overall sense of femininity and sexuality. This can happen to any woman, whether or not she has a partner.

What can help manage effects on sexuality and libido?

There are a range of practical and lifestyle remedies that can help manage some of the effects of early menopause on sexuality and libido, including managing vaginal dryness.
  • Be open with your partner; explain what’s happening and what might be helpful for you. Relaxation techniques may help to reduce your stress levels and help you refocus on your relationship.
  • Treat vaginal dryness if it’s causing discomfort. 
  • Downplay the importance of sexual intercourse and orgasm, at least for a while. Instead, focus on the pleasure of touching, kissing, and imagery. Women need foreplay to become properly aroused, so don’t hurry this aspect of your relationship, and let your partner know what helps. 
  • You and your partner may find it helpful to talk to a health professional – you can do this together or separately. You may want to ask for advice from a trained specialist such as a relationship counsellor or sex therapist.