As a woman approaches menopause, her levels of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone decline naturally, leading to a hormonal imbalance. These three hormones are responsible for regulating a woman’s sex drive, reproductive cycle, and mood, and as they decline, there is age-related female sexual dysfunction.
The primary female hormone, estrogen, is responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, controlling the development of female sexual organs, and thickening the lining of the uterus to support a pregnancy. As a woman approaches menopause, the levels of estrogen decline drastically. This period is called perimenopause.
Menopause occurs when the low levels of estrogen cause the wall of the uterus no longer thickens. This change has a negative impact sexual activity. Vaginal dryness can result in painful intercourse. A woman may also start experiencing poor sleeping patterns and unstable moods.
This hormone is responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle and supporting a pregnancy. When a woman reaches menopause, the levels of progesterone also decline, and this is believed to hurt her sexual behavior. Research is ongoing on the role of progesterone on a woman’s sexual function.
Testosterone is thought to be primarily a male hormone, but it is vital for women as well. The ovaries produce testosterone, which is used in the production of estrogen. The levels of testosterone in women decline naturally after menopause, which leads to low levels of estrogen produced. This reduction in testosterone leads to a reduction of sexual arousal that is common in older women.
How to keep the sexual drive alive
The treatments that are available include estrogen therapy, topical estrogen, and testosterone therapy.
- Estrogen therapy helps to relieve the symptoms of low estrogen levels, making sex more enjoyable and comfortable. This therapy, however, has been linked to increased risk of endometrial cancer. It is recommended that women whose uterus is intact take the estrogen together with progesterone to reduce the risk of cancer.
- The use of topical estrogen involves the use of vaginal estrogen creams, which are believed to increase sexual arousal and vaginal lubrication.
- Testosterone therapy involves the use of testosterone supplementation. It has been found to increase sexual desire in postmenopausal women, leading to sexual satisfaction for them.
- Some simple lifestyle changes including regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management may also help in restoring sexual desire without the use of hormonal therapies which carry some risks.