Feel like you’ve lost your mojo? You’re not alone. At least 50 percent of women going through the menopause will experience feelings of low sex drive and loss of libido. And let’s face it, what with all the hot flushes, mood swings and fluctuations in weight, it’s no wonder many don’t feel like irresistible sex goddesses all the time.
“Our libido levels are usually a well-kept secret; it’s not often considered acceptable chit- chat, even over cocktails with our best friends,” says leading natural menopause expert Maryon Stewart (maryonstewart.com), who explains that the menopause has a huge effect on a woman’s sex drive. Top psychosexual therapist, Trudy Hannington, agrees: “I regularly see women going through the menopause who start to experience relationship problems such as low sex drive, arousal problems and, in many cases, feelings of no longer being attractive or desirable to their partner,” she says, adding that Female Sexual Dysfunction affects one in two women after the menopause.
There are a number of reasons why this happens – and all of them are perfectly normal. Fluctuating hormones can wreak havoc on your sex life. The loss of oestrogen can lead to dryness and discomfort during sex, while weight gain and lack of sleep can make you feel about as sexy and attractive as an old pair of socks. But while hot bedroom action might not be top of your list of priorities, it’s important to keep it on the agenda for your health and happiness, says leading women’s health expert Dr Marilyn Glenville (marilynglenville.com). “Boosting your libido after the menopause is important as there are definite emotional and psychological benefits of sex.” As well as lowering blood pressure and triggering the release of feel-good endorphins in your body, it also increases the production of oxytocin, sometimes called the ‘love hormone’, which can help to reduce stress too.
So what are you waiting for? There are loads of simple ways to wake up your libido. Just try our tips below and you’ll be back to your confident self in no time!
You’re not alone
The most important thing to remember is that most women feel like this when they’re going through the menopause. “If you feel your libido waning or find sex painful, you are not alone,” says Maryon, who has helped thousands of women across the world overcome menopausal symptoms. “It’s easy to feel isolated or scared to talk openly about such an off-limits topic. However, it’s not the end. It will be music to your ears to learn that you can regain your libido during this life stage, enabling normal loving relationships to be resumed.” So remember – don’t suffer in silence and always consult your GP for a one-to-one consultation if you are at all concerned.
“If you don’t feel healthy, it’s extremely hard to feel sexy,” says Marilyn, who wrote the best-selling Natural Solutions to the Menopause (£12.99, Rodale). “A diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, additives, preservatives, processed foods and takeaways is going to make you feel tired and will have a negative impact on the energy you need for a good sex life.” So, cut out these libido slayers from your diet and instead load your trolley up with lots of healthy fruit and veg, pulses, seafood, healthy fats and high quality protein such as organic chicken and beef. The herbs black cohosh and St John’s wort have been clinically proven to help relieve common menopause symptoms. Also, certain nutrients can help improve your sex drive, so take a good quality supplement containing zinc, L-arginine, vitamin B3, ginger, damiana and maca, such as NHP Libido Support for Women (£27.77, naturalhealthpractice.com).
Talk to your partner
Communication is essential in a healthy relationship and one of the best things you can do is be open about how you’re feeling. “Remember no one is a mind reader,” says menopause coach Sabrina Zeif (themenopausechef.com). “Keep a positive attitude. Be honest, don’t be embarrassed, and let your partner know about the physical and mental changes you’re going through.” Take time out to enjoy your partner’s company – go out on dates, do romantic things together, have a candlelit bath, give each other a massage. It doesn’t have to result in sex but the emotional intimacy is a great libido booster.
Try to stay active
Try to exercise regularly and you’ll feel happier, have more energy and feel fitter, says Dr David Edwards, a specialist in female sexual dysfunction. “Brisk walking or aerobics release endorphins, the feel-good hormones in the body which can help alleviate low mood and anxiety, common feelings during the menopause years.” Pilates and yoga are great for flexibility, and kegel exercises (where you contract your pelvic floor muscles by stopping and starting your urine flow when you go to the loo) can improve your pelvic muscle tone, which can help to spice up your bedroom routine and increase your enjoyment.
“Intimate dryness is perhaps the most distressing and least talked about symptom of the menopause,” says Marilyn. Luckily there are loads of natural solutions. Start by replacing the missing natural oestrogen by adding phytoestrogen foods such as soya, flaxseeds and red clover. You could also try a supplement. Pharma Nord Sea Buckthorn Oil Omega 7 (£19.95, pharmanord.com) has been shown to help restore the vaginal tissues. In the short term, try a natural lubricant like YES Lubricant (£5.99, hollandandbarrett.com), or using natural oils such as vitamin E, coconut or sweet almond oil.
Don’t feel great about your body? It’s not unusual to lose self-esteem and body confidence at this time. Feeling good about yourself is enormously important when you’re going through such a rollercoaster of physical changes, so make sure you take steps to boost your emotional health, too. “Engaging in mind-body activities can help relieve the symptoms that interfere with desire such as anxiety and depression,” says Sabrina. “Techniques such as mindfulness, tai chi and yoga, to name a few, can help to improve intimacy and stimulation, and help you to feel more comfortable with sexual activity after menopause.”