Fluctuations in a woman’s sexual desire as she ages is not an uncommon event. Research has pinpointed a number of factors responsible for the decline in a woman’s sex drive as she ages. Research work carried out in 2015 indicated that the transition into menopause can actually lead to sexual dysfunction in women.
The study reported that in early postmenopausal and late postmenopausal women, there is a decrease in sexual activity from 74% to 56% It also showed that 42% of pre-menopausal women have sexual dysfunction which skyrocketed to 88% after eight years.
This begs the question; what brings about this drastic change to a woman’s sex drive?
A combination of, physiological, psychological and social factors may be the reason for the sudden change in a woman’s desire to have sex as she ages.
A Woman’s Sexual Desire
As women approach or reach menopause usually between their 40’s and 50’s, they experience a dip in sex hormones, estrogen, and testosterone which play an important role in the development and maintenance of the female reproductive tissues. The gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GARH), Follicle _stimulating hormones (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH) are released by the anterior pituitary gland in the ovaries to produce estrogen in women.
Estrogen contributes to vaginal elasticity, strengthens the pelvic tissues, and helps keep the vagina lubricated. Menopause begins to set in when the ovaries gradually stop responding to the stimulating hormones, thereby leading to a decreased production of estrogen. This results in a decline in vaginal elasticity, making the lining of the vagina walls thinner.
Lubrication is also hindered and vaginal atrophy(dryness/shrinkage of the vagina) occurs. As a result, sexual intercourse becomes a herculean task. The decrease in lubrication and dryness will make arousal, penetration and the ability to reach climax difficult.
Psychological and social factors such as anxiety, stress, a negative perception of body image, and the absence of a partner can contribute to a decrease in sexual desire in women as they age. Work, financial and domestic-related stress can adversely affect libido.
The body uses a similar mechanism to produce both sex and stress hormones, and because stress is the body ‘s natural response to danger when triggered, the body will produce more stress hormones than sex hormones which will invariably lead to a decline in libido.
Also, when a woman is caught up with a very busy and exhausting routine, sleep will be a much better option than sex. Any little chance she gets to get away from her busy routine, she’d naturally opt to sleep than have sex.
Changes in a woman’s body can affect her level of confidence and how she perceives herself. Age brings on those body changes, where a woman who might have once been fit, slim and considered sexy will now have extra flesh on certain parts of her body which cancels out the idea of sexy. She might look at her own body and feel embarrassed and will most likely not want anyone else to see the “unpleasant” changes her body has undergone, especially the person she is attracted to sexually.
Women who are divorced, widowed or simply unmarried may find it difficult to find the right partner, as they are no longer in the flower of their youth. More so, they may be less inclined to go on dates or socialize. Self-Imposed celibacy occurs and their sexual drive may wane with time.
Deterioration in health with age is another factor that contributes to low libido in women. Heath conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic arthritis, depression, and incontinence can impede a woman’s desire to have sex.
Cardiovascular diseases affect circulation to the blood vessels around the vagina that are responsible for lubrication and arousal. Some drugs used to treat health conditions such as antidepressants, Parkinson’s disease or cancer medications may have sexual side effects that can get in the way of having sex.
WHEN DOES LOW SEX DRIVE BECOME A PROBLEM
Generally, a decline in sexual desire with age in women is no cause for a serious health concern. It only becomes a problem when there is a complete and persistent lack of sexual thoughts and desires leading to anxiety and emotional distress. This condition is called Hypo-active Sexual desire disorder (HSDD). It is characterized by a lackadaisical attitude towards sex both physically and emotionally.
Symptoms include a complete lack of sexual thoughts or fantasies, reluctance to initiate sex, lack of pleasure when sexual organs are stimulated and difficulty in reaching orgasm. HSDD is mostly caused by anxiety and depression, but health conditions such as diabetes and coronary artery diseases can trigger the symptoms. A history of sexual abuse or relationship issues can also influence HSDD in women.
HSDD can be treated with prescription drug flibanserin which is the first FDA approved drug for libido-boosting in women with HSDD. Counseling or therapy can also go a long way in curtailing the symptoms of HSDD. The counselor helps to evaluate emotional factors that may be responsible for the drastic decline in sexual drive and activity.
Now that we have identified some of the reasons and factors why women tend to have sex less as they age, the question remains….
How Do You Boost Your Sex Drive and Have Quality Sex Life Regardless Of Age?
Below are some tips on how to maintain a quality sex life even when you are past your vibrant and youthful days.
- Carrying out aerobic exercise can help boost your libido by increasing the circulation of blood flow to your vagina tissues. It strengthens the heart and increases stamina. It could be something as mild as taking a brisk walk or doing a few planks. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can hit the gym. Exercise also helps you control your weight and maybe the key you need to unlock that perfect body, confidence and a positive perception of your body image which leads to an overall feeling of sexiness and an improved libido.
- Keep stress at bay by inducting some self-care practices into your daily routine. Practice yoga and meditation. Yoga helps to strengthen the pelvic muscle and increases blood flow to your organs which is needed for arousal. It also helps calm your mind and liven your spirit. Meditation helps you attain mental clarity and focus, it places your thoughts and emotions in a positive light. Inhaling essential oils like lavender can boost your mood. Also, try to get ample sleep and schedule a time for intimacy in your life.
- If you are on any medication that has anti-sex side effects, get your doctor to swap them for you with alternative drugs that have no sexual side effects
- Hormone therapy, which is the use of estrogen in the form of pills, sprays, gels, and creams can be used to abate vaginal atrophy y(dryness of the vagina). Testosterone can be used also, but it is not approved by the FDA and may have adverse side effects such as acne, personality changes, and excess body hair.
- Talk to your partner expressively about your sexual problems. You can both work out what works best for you, and since you have the benefit of experience on your side, you will mostly like to know the parts of your body that stimulates arousal the most and use it to maximum effect. Don’t be shy when communicating with your partner, encourage him to spend time on foreplay while having sex. Set the mood for sex with candles, a romantic dinner, music or anything that tickles your fancy.
- Make your sex life more adventurous and fun-filled by trying different and new sex positions and locations. Sex doesn’t have to be boring and monotonous. If you are open to modern-day inventions, you can take it a step further by investing in sex toys and role-playing. Be kinky!!
- Avoid alcohol and smoking like the plague. Alcohol can influence hot flashes due to menopause, inhibit sexual reflexes and can cause sleep disturbances
- Eat healthily. Nourishing your body with good food can help improve health conditions such as diabetes and heart diseases that get in the way of your sex life. You can reduce stress by infusing your diet with magnesium found in green leafy vegetables and pumpkin. Magnesium helps to induce sleep which is vital to reducing cortisol levels in the body. Eating basil can help with blood circulation and libido improvement.