A woman’s production of sex hormones, in particular oestrogen, falls significantly around menopause. Her testosterone levels will have declined slowly since she was about 20 years of age. A woman in her forties has, on average, half the testosterone circulating in her bloodstream that a woman in her twenties has. The reduction of these hormones may directly affect libido or sex drive and sexual function in some women. Menopause may also cause physical and psychological changes that will affect sexual function.
Menopause, the final menstrual period, occurs when a woman stops ovulating and her monthly period (menstruation) ceases, marking the end of her reproductive years. Menopause can affect a woman’s sex drive or libido. Contraception, physical changes such as a dry, painful vagina, body image, hormone changes, relationships and social issues may also affect sexuality and libido.
However, Pregnancy is possible, though rare, before and even after your last period. It is generally advised that menopausal women should use contraception until at least one year after their natural periods have ceased. This is because a pregnancy late in a woman’s reproductive life increases the risk of birth defects for the child and health problems for the mother.
Both during and after menopause, a woman may notice certain physical changes that affect her sexuality in positive and negative ways. These may include a woman’s vagina and bladder become more susceptible to bacterial infections, a woman who was troubled by heavy or painful periods may feel relieved and positive about her change of life. This can lead to a renewed interest in sex and can include hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia and unusual skin sensations like prickling or itching.
Important factors influence a woman’s sexual desire at menopause, including contraception, body image, hormone changes and relationships. Seek advice from a professional if you need help with any sexual problem.