Sex and the Menopause

Your libido and interest in sex can change at menopause, for both physical and emotional reasons.


As you know, sex, desire, and sexual satisfaction vary from one woman to the next. Your sex drive may always have been higher than your friends, or you may have found it easy to achieve sexual satisfaction.

Whatever the case, menopause can often change everything you thought you knew about sex.

Sex and menopause

A 2015 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that postmenopausal women, on average, experienced a greater rate of sexual dysfunction than their premenopausal peers.

This is because menopause can trigger a variety of sexual side effects such as these that are experienced by many women:

1. Reduced desire

According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), both men and women experience reduced desire with age. But women are two to three times more likely to feel that decrease in sexual urges. This is because a woman’s hormone levels are changing.

It’s important to remember that desire is also strongly linked to the mental and emotional aspects of your well-being. Either way, if you’re feeling less interested in sex now that menopause has hit, know that you’re not alone

2. Vaginal dryness

The change in oestrogen levels can also be responsible for a decrease in your natural vaginal lubrication. Vaginal dryness is sometimes to blame for more painful, or at least more uncomfortable, sex.

Many women find relief by using lubricants, vaginal moisturisers or applying their hormone cream vaginally rather than on the skin.

3. Decreased pleasure

For some women, vaginal dryness can combine with reduced blood flow to the clitoris and lower vagina. This can lead to reduced sensitivity of your erogenous zones.

Because of this, it’s not uncommon to have fewer orgasms, or orgasms that are less intense and take more work to achieve.

And if you’re experiencing less pleasure with sex, it makes sense that your desire would decrease as well.

4. Painful penetration

Another common side effect of menopause is dyspareunia, or painful intercourse. There can be a lot of issues contributing to this condition, including vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissues.

For some women, this causes a general sense of discomfort during intercourse. Others experience severe pain as well as soreness and burning.

And just as reduced pleasure can contribute to a lower sex drive, it also makes sense that experiencing more pain with intercourse could lead to a disinterest in sexual encounters.

5. Emotional distractions

Our mental state too can play a big role in sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction.

You may be feeling exhausted as a result of your hormone shifts and night sweats. Or you may just be more stressed and emotional than normal.

All of these feelings could potentially transfer to the bedroom, meaning your sexual side effects may be physical as well as mental.

Helpful information: 

In women progesterone is the hormone relating to libido and sexual desire in women, but if you are also experiencing dryness or discomfort then you are going to need some oestrogen as well.

So you may need just a progesterone cream, or a combined progesterone and oestrogen cream and either of these can be used vaginally. This means a different absorption. method from the skin and so no monthly break may need to be taken.

There are several options for applying cream in this way and it depends on which you find the most comfortable. Suggestions below will be helpful, and it is also possible to combine a skin and vaginal application routine if preferred.

1 put the cream on the end of your finger and insert as far inside the vagina as is comfortable.

2 put the cream on the end of an applicator tampon and again insert and remove the applicator. Leave the tampon in place for 30 minutes before removing.

3 or you can rub the cream on the inner lips of the labia, you will need to apply to both sides, and this method does not involve you having to penetrate to the vagina.