Hormones and Libido: A Slippery Slope
There’s no denying that we live in a rather hypersexual society. That being said, sex has existed since the dawn of time. The act of sexual intercourse is good for a woman’s mind and body, releasing stress and even sustaining long-term vaginal tone. So why is it that so many women (up to 86% around the age of menopause) struggle to stay in the driver’s seat of their sex drive? We blame it on hormones.
Hormones are the driving force behind libido in both men and women. Once a woman starts to experience “the change,” or the early shift in hormones that eventually culminate in menopause, she may notice much more than her libido slipping. She may have greater difficulty concentrating. She may gain weight and have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Hormonal shifts also lend to anxiety and depression, two conditions that are also interconnected with low libido.
How Hormones Affect Libido
It all boils down to the number of sex hormones coursing through our veins when we’re talking about general health and wellness. The aging woman will experience a natural decrease in estrogen, which inhibits adequate blood flow to the vagina. Without this blood flow, the tissue of the labia as well as within the vaginal canal thins. Muscles in the vagina also weaken, which can lead to stress urinary incontinence. In combination with muscle laxity, the diminished sensation caused by low estrogen makes sex less appealing.
Depending on the degree of atrophy that has occurred due to fluctuating or low hormone levels, a woman may also experience diminished lubrication. This affects arousal, and also may instigate painful intercourse.
Hormones and Then Some
As mentioned, hormone fluctuations can affect a woman’s sleep patterns, her general mental health, her stress levels, and her focus. Throw the responsibilities of child-rearing, parental care, work, and relationships into the mix, and you can see how fragile such a thing as libido can be.
Can Libido be Saved?
When you’re in the throws of hormonal changes and all the comes with that, one of your biggest questions may be “why bother?” Should libido be something that a woman tries to save? Research says yes. Sex lowers cortisol, the stress hormone linked to belly fat. Sex and orgasm release oxytocin, which boosts mood and also relieves pain. Sex is also valuable for women interested in maintaining vaginal tone, which can minimize chances of stress urinary incontinence.
There are several steps you can take to address hormonal shifts and their affect on libido. The first may be to call our office for a hormone workup and consultation regarding appropriate therapies. We’re happy to assist you at 713-955-6560.