Dropping Hormone Levels
Well before women hit menopause, their bodies begin to make changes that affect hormone levels. The ovaries, which are the source of 50% of our testosterone, become less active, decreasing the production of the sex hormone that is key to our libido. So, it makes sense that sex drive often drops as we age. If you've noticed a significant downshift in your sex drive, hormones are one of the most likely culprits.
With age, your ovaries also begin to produce less estrogen, the hormone responsible for keeping your vagina well lubricated for sex. Without proper lubrication, not only are you less likely to be interested in sex, but also the increased friction can make sex painful and unlikely to end in orgasm. Declining estrogen also thins vaginal walls and decreases blood flow to the vagina, which also contributes to painful sex.
The Sex Rx
Use it or lose it applies here. The more sex you have, the more you will stimulate blood flow to your genitals to improve lubrication. But you don't have to do it alone. There are tons of helpful lubricants on your pharmacy shelves - from water-based ones to oil- and silicon-based options. Incorporate them into foreplay and let them do the work for you.
For some women who have a documented decrease in estrogen during perimenopause or menopause there are 2 prescription products to ask your doctor about. The first is a small estrogen tablet that is inserted into the vagina where it adheres to the vaginal wall and estrogenizes the vagina, increasing lubrication and reducing pain and irritation during sex. Another option is an estrogen-releasing ring that is inserted into the vagina and needs to be replaced every few weeks. Estrogen creams are also available by prescription and over the counter.