Life has a way of allowing doubt and fear to creep in. This happens for many women who reach perimenopause or menopause. They feel like something is lost, perhaps their freedom and confidence that kept their sexual desire switched on. So many women I talk to are consumed with fear that runs deep to the core of their womanhood. They’re afraid of their changing bodies – of “becoming their mothers” in both looks and actions. But worst of all, they’re fearful of becoming obsolete in a society that highly reveres youth.
With the constant pressure put on women today by society, it’s no wonder women can be left feeling doubtful of themselves. They listen to the cultural message that tells them that, after you turn 40, an active and exciting sex life might be impossible to achieve or that it’s somehow inappropriate. You might begin to question whether sex is truly important in your life. You might even give up hope that you can ever be satisfied again. If you’ve lost all hope of reactivating your libido, I want to reassure you that you CAN reclaim the sexy side of yourself, and you can do it naturally.
Every woman is different, and for some a less active sex life works. But if you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you are longing for more. And the great news is, you can have it! There is no specific age at which point sexuality disappears, and no reason to think that intimacy must cease. In fact, with a little effort and the right support, my patients often say sex is better than ever after menopause. I like to think that’s because they have taken the time to know themselves better!
Women’s bodies will undergo physical changes as they make the transition from perimenopause, through menopause and into post menopause. Arousal, intercourse and orgasm may become more difficult to achieve, or simply feel different due to physical issues. But that doesn’t mean the time for sex has passed. I offer insight into – and some solutions for – these issues in my article on low sex drive. But sometimes, physical changes aren’t the problem. Your emotional state when it comes to sex can be at the root of waning desire. And there are ways to rekindle the flame that I’d like to share with you here.
How Do Physical Changes in Menopause Impact the Female Libido?
It may seem natural that diminished desire coincides with the slow decline in fertility that you experience in perimenopause. But that only makes sense if you view sex solely as a reproductive function. In my opinion, that’s not the way it should be. After all, both genders have the ability to enjoy sexual pleasure long after the reproductive years have passed, and there are so many natural health benefits to remaining sexually active. That’s right – having sex is good for your health! Studies have documented a wide range of benefits, including slower aging, longer life, decrease in risk of heart disease, better fitness levels, and higher quality sleep – and that’s just a few.
So why is it that so many women I talk to think their sexuality is fading as they age? I hear them say they don’t feel any older. In their minds, they are still 25 – but the mirror tells them a different story. They notice changes in their skin, hair, muscle tone and weight and start to think their sex lives have to change too.
Sexual desire and self-esteem go hand in hand for women. It can be tough for many women to fight off the internal voices that tell them they doesn’t measure up. And it’s even harder with the constant messages that only young, “hot” bodies are desirable. Our obsession with this impossible cultural ideal often begins in adolescence and carries right on through to mid-life, fueled by ongoing media images of “beauty” that simply aren’t real.
Menopause is the time to reclaim your own idea of beauty, which may have been pushed aside for decades. It’s time to shine a spotlight on any false “truths” you might hold about your own beauty and personal power. And it’s time to let go of what society deems attractive and notice all the things that are beautiful about you and your life.
How Sexy Do You Feel? The Mind-Body Connection to Female Libido
It’s hard to love your body if your head is saying that body is inadequate. And it’s hard to feel desire if you have a negative script playing constantly in your mind. Your limbic system, sometimes described as the emotional seat of the brain, plays a vital role in sexual arousal and desire. Desire doesn’t begin with physical contact – it starts far earlier, in your mind. Think about it – have you ever anticipated a date with your partner and found yourself doing little things all day to get “in the mood”? That’s your brain, priming your body for action.
Embracing your sexy nature can be difficult in our society. Women so often are the object of unwanted attention, such as catcalls and obvious stares when they walk down the street. Sometimes, that means they go out of their way to downplay their allure. But stifling your natural sex appeal can backfire, especially as you age. One patient told me that all the unwanted attention on the street outraged her – until she began to feel invisible. Although she didn’t like the kind of attention she used to get, it felt even worse when no one noticed her at all. I want to tell you what I told her – you are giving your power away when you allow other people to dictate your value.
Learning to express and project yourself
Have you ever met someone who may not fit the classic idea of beauty, but whose personality gives them great sex appeal? That attraction you feel is born out of the strong love they have for themselves. It really is true – you have to love yourself before someone else can. But sometimes, that is so hard to do!
People will see what you project. If what you are putting out there is that you aren’t desirable, you may have a great deal of difficulty attracting others. That means you have to push out that negativity when it begins and start hearing and accepting compliments and encouragement – both from yourself and from others. As I said before, that’s not easy, so you might need some professional assistance. I’ve directed many of my patients to counseling, EFT, or a program like the Hoffman Quadrinity Process to help them change their inner dialogues.
If you want to find the spark of your desire, you have to give yourself permission to express yourself as a sexual being. Even if you’ve never done this before, it’s not too late. When you discover and embrace the traits that make you uniquely beautiful, you’ll be able to appreciate just what you have to offer.
What Are Some Natural Ways to Increase Female Libido?
You don’t need a “magic pill” to find that spark. Often, the most important step is slowing down and really examining what made your desire fade in the first place. What changed in your life that made you put your sexuality on the back burner? And how can you change it again, in a way that works for you? Let’s take a look at a few possibilities.
Reduce stress to boost desire
Women in perimenopause and menopause are so often totally stressed out. They have teenagers who need driving here there and everywhere, older parents that require a lot of care and attention, or their relationship has taken a nosedive and they’re dealing with divorce. At the same time, these women hold down full-time jobs or volunteer positions, and many of them do much of the work around the home as well. All that stress takes a toll on both your body and your mind!
Constant stress means that your body is using its resources to make stress hormones instead of sex hormones. And a constant influx of stress hormones can leave you feeling exhausted and drained – which certainly doesn’t put you “in the mood.”
If you want a healthy sex life, you have to make time for it. Have you ever noticed your desire increasing while on vacation? That’s because you’ve given yourself space to relax and have fun. The trick is to find that space in everyday life, not just on a romantic cruise.
Changing your daily routine to allow for down time can be the key to waking up your sexual desire. Learn to say no to things that don’t feel right, so you can pursue activities that get you fired up. I’ve known patients who finally took up a passion they’ve put off for years and discovered energy they thought they’d lost long ago. These patients felt young – and sexy – once again when they gave themselves permission to follow their passion – and share it with their partner.
Communication is vital to intimacy
It probably comes as no surprise that if you are having emotional trouble in your relationship, it will have an impact on your physical relationship as well. And the longer you shut your partner out, the more you’ll feel that desire slipping away.
Creating intimacy in a relationship – and maintaining it long term – is a complex topic with many layers. Communication is one important component, and when it comes to desire, communication is essential. Knowing what you need is the first step; then you must be able to ask for it.
This can open up a huge can of emotional worms for some women, for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that our society is still conflicted about sex beyond its role in reproduction. On the one hand, companies know that sex sells products, and racy advertisements are everywhere. On the other hand, there’s sometimes an underlying undercurrent that sex for the sake of pleasure is somehow not okay. Many women, when they reach a certain age, begin to think that wanting sexual intimacy just isn’t “proper.”
Acknowledging each other’s needs
Sex is not the same for women and men, and that can further complicate the situation. Men need to make love to feel loved, but for women it’s just the opposite — we need to feel loved before we are interested in making love. Letting your partner know just what you need — maybe a little flirtation that begins in the morning with a compliment, thoughtful gesture, or simple recognition that your life is crazy but he wants to connect — can go a long way towards getting it! And remember, your partner has needs too. Communication is the best way to ensure that you are both ready when an opportunity for sexual intimacy arises.
The only way for your partner to know what you need and want is for you to open up and talk about it. If that’s difficult for you, start with just setting aside time to connect and do something you both enjoy. Play cards, watch a show together weekly, or read the same book and then set aside time to discuss it. Often, issues that come up in books or video can help you broach the same topics in your own life. And sometimes, just asking how their day went can create the connection necessary to move towards intimate relations.
If you’ve been with someone long-term, remember that your partner is also going through a transition as he or she ages. And it’s all too easy to fall into “habits” that might no longer meet either one of your needs. You’ll have to explore the subject together to determine what might need to change. A consultation with a certified sex therapist or other counselor might help.
Getting back into dating
If you are single and want to jump back into dating, you might be even more nervous as you navigate this new stage of your sexual life. Trust yourself, believe in your own beauty, and you are likely to find a safe and loving partner who can explore with you, not take advantage of you. Read my article on safe sex in menopause for some important guidelines if you are venturing out again after many years. And remember, new is exciting – and you can reinvent yourself as you see fit!
Pay attention to physical and emotional issues
Menopause is a time of change, so be sure to talk to your practitioner about anything that might be blocking your desire. Lab work to assess your hormone levels might be in order. I recommend a full hormone profile, including free testosterone, to women who tell me they lack interest in sex. I also recommend an adrenal profile since adrenal dysfunction can have an impact on desire. Examining physical issues can bring to light underlying problems you’ve been battling for years, and you might need a little natural support to boost your sex drive.
Emotionally, you might need to do some of the work I mentioned earlier. You may have long ingrained ideas about sex that you need to work through, especially in the culture we live in, where sex – and talking about sex – is often seen as taboo. When you can break through emotional barriers, you’ll start to realize that sex is normal, healthy and it can be amazing — no matter what stage of life you are in!
Self-care is important
It’s hard to be interested in making a sexual connection if your overall health is suffering. Make it a priority to be sure your body – and your mind – are getting what they need. Every day, do something for yourself. Find an exercise you love, something creative to pour your heart into, set aside time for meditation and reflection, and eat as well as you can. All of these things can boost your spirits and awaken your desire.
It’s also important to do the little things for yourself that help you feel sexy and desirable. Perhaps it’s wearing a favorite scent or special outfit, getting a manicure or pedicure, reading erotica, or listening to certain music. Only you know what makes you feel sexy – and the good news is, you get to decide for yourself!
Natural supplements can help boost female libido
A little gentle support can go a long way. Many women say they feel considerably better in terms of energy and improved libido after simply adding a daily high-quality multi-vitamin/mineral complex like my Multi Essentials.
Sometimes, you need something more specific to address your dwindling desire. That’s where my Libido Formula can help. This natural blend of herbs was designed to help women boost their sex drive and find pleasure and satisfaction in sexual experiences once again. The botanicals used in my proprietary blend are well known to promote a healthy balance of estrogen and testosterone to increase your sexual satisfaction.
Celebrate the New Sexual You!
Finding your inner sex goddess is something to celebrate! The freedom you will experience when you learn to listen to and take great care with your body is amazing. This is the time to break free from boundaries that don’t work for you and embrace a world of new possibilities. Your life after menopause can be filled with intimacy and sexual satisfaction if you are willing to release old emotional baggage and reject damaging stereotypes about women, aging, and sexuality.
Our culture is changing – ever so slowly, but in a positive direction. The success of the Fifty Shades of Grey series is an indication that women are ready to embrace their sexual desires and fantasies. So many women are embracing passionate sexual relationships all throughout their lives, and you can too! Open yourself up to the chance to rediscover – or maybe even discover for the first time – what makes you feel sexy. Then open your arms wide to embrace this new, sexy you!
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Menolascino, MD