A woman’s overall health and wellness is closely tied to her reproductive functions and the hormones that control them. This fact is made perfectly clear as women journey through the various stages of their lives, from puberty on to their reproductive years and then through menopause.
Each of these stages is governed by reproductive hormone levels that wax and wane, taking you on a veritable roller coaster ride through life. And no stage may be more pronounced than your passage through menopause, which puts an end to your reproductive phase, and can also bring about unfortunate side effects that wreak havoc on your sex life.
At Women’s Healthcare of Princeton, our all-female team of women’s health specialists helps our patients navigate these different stages, giving them the tools they need to ensure the best quality of life possible. And when it comes to menopause, the team understands better than most the mental and physical side effects of this transition, as our clinicians have completed additional training and certification by the North American Menopause Society.
To help you through the natural passage of menopause, we review some of the more common reasons why your sex life may have fallen prey to menopause here — and what we can do about it.
A lack of resources
About half of post-menopausal women between the ages of 51 and 60 report problems with vaginal dryness, which can lead to uncomfortable, if not painful, sex. The reason behind this development is that with the precipitous drop in your estrogen levels that marks your passage through menopause, your vaginal tissue isn’t getting the resources it needs.
During your reproductive years, your estrogen hormones oversaw the health of your vaginal tissue, ensuring that it was thick, elastic, and well-lubricated to encourage intercourse and make delivering a baby easier.
When your hormone levels drop, your tissue can become thinner, and it may not benefit from the lubrication it once did. Taken together — the thinning tissue and lack of lubrication — and sexual intercourse can become quite painful.
A lack of desire
The North American Menopause Society reports that sexual desire in many women begins to decrease, starting in their late 40s. While sexual drive tends to wane in both men and women with age, women are 2-3 times more likely to experience this lack of sexual interest.
There are myriad reasons for this, which may be social, emotional, and/or physical. For example, if you’ve had the same partner for decades, a loss of sexual desire may just be a part of the loss of “newness.” As well, you may be upset about the changes in your body and not feel as “sexy” as you once did.
Other drivers for a lack of sexual interest may simply be physical. The vaginal dryness we mention above, as well as hot flashes, night sweats, and even urinary incontinence, are hardly conducive to an active sex life. There’s also some evidence to suggest that declining testosterone levels may affect your sex drive. (Yes, women have testosterone, too!).
Unfortunately, a declining sex drive can create a vicious cycle because the longer you go without having intercourse, the more your vaginal tissue can atrophy, even causing your vagina to shorten. You may also become more anxious about sex the less you have it, creating a mental barrier, as well.
Reclaiming your sex life
If you’re upset by your waning sex life, there are some steps that we can take to restore your physical health, including hormone replacement therapies that can help your vaginal tissue with extra resources. We also offer the MonaLisa Touch®, an innovative laser therapy that can improve vaginal tissue health.
We also espouse a natural approach to the effects of menopause by encouraging you to explore your sexuality. Studies show that the more you engage in sexual activity, either on your own or with a partner, the more your body responds and boosts the health of your vagina.
Rest assured, we’re with you every step of the way, providing treatment and counseling as you go. If you’d like to take charge of your sex life again after menopause, please call our Princeton, New Jersey, clinic at 609-246-5541 or schedule an appointment using our online booking tool.