Low libido is the bane of every relationship. It is a symptom of perimemopause that is rarely discussed out loud and yet it affects us so profoundly. For many men – no sex means that you don’t love them anymore, for many women its ‘just another thing to do’. Yet by the ratings of shows like Bridgerton, we clearly love sex! For many of us we would love to be up for a roll in the hay but the thought of actually doing it just makes us want to roll over and cry
So why do we get a low sex drive and what can we do about it.
Low libido can show up as:
- Disinterest in sex
- Unable to be aroused
- Too tired
- Painful or uncomfortable sex
The top reasons for low libido include:
Low oestrogen causes a low blood flow to the vagina which can make it more challenging to get aroused. Low oestrogen can also cause ‘vaginal atrophy’, which is when the vaginal wall becomes thin and dry. This then can cause painful sex or also reduced arousal. Women also become more at risk of vaginal or urinary infections because oestrogen regulates pH and mucus and so maintains a healthy vaginal microbiome. Having a vaginal infection can also be a reason for not wanting sex.
Low testosterone can also cause low libido as it lowers our drive, motivation and general ‘oomph’.
This can be for a number of reasons – as women in our 40’s and 50’s we are generally overfilling our day with work, kids, parents, partners, chores etc. there is very little time for relaxing and regenerating and when we go to bed at night after a long day of running around and multi-tasking the last thing we might want to do is ‘get on down’ with our partner.
If we are struggling with exhaustion and low energy first and foremost we must get this checked out with a GP. I would recommend blood tests for at least iron, B9, B12, thyroid hormone, cortisol and glucose and/or insulin and possibly vitamin D as all of those could indicate underlying health conditions or nutritional deficiencies.
Poor Sleep – How much sleep are you getting? Is it enough? Is it good quality?
- Turn off your devices at 9pm at the latest and try and be asleep by 10pm
- Put your phone in the bathroom or kitchen out of your bedroom, make sure the modem is switched off and never work or watch TV in bed.
- Have a hot bath, shower or foot bath with lavender or rose geranium 1 hour before bed. This allows your body to know you are preparing for bed and your body will be cool enough to sleep after this time.
- Don’t hit the snooze button. We sleep in cycles of about 90 minutes. If we wake up groggy it can be because we awoke in the middle of the cycle not at the end. If our body is used to getting up at 7am and we fall back asleep we go back into that cycle and when we actually get up we can feel dreadful.
Underlying health conditions – diabetes, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, autoimmunity, anaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, cortisol dysfunction… to name but a few can all create fatigue, – always get checked by a GP first.
Stress – chronic stress will eventually cause low cortisol levels and high cortisol will disrupt sleep…this needs to be addressed.
Antidepressants and the oral contraceptive pill are known to cause low libido as a side effect. Speak to your GP about the possibility of changing medications if this is the case.
A diet rich in sugar and highly refined carbohydrates will cause blood sugar imbalance; excess alcohol can also dampen libido (as well as affecting sleep). A diet low in veggies, protein, sea vegetables and whole grains can cause low iron, B9, B12, B6 and iodine.
So what should we do if we are experiencing a low libido or dry vagina
- Get tested for oestrogen, progesterone, DHEA, cortisol, glucose/insulin, thyroid, iron, B9, B12 and B6 and speak to your GP to ensure that there are no underlying medical reasons if it’s caused from fatigue.
- Stress resilience – find a way EVERY DAY to do something that relaxes and restores your energy and is just plain fun. Whatever floats YOUR boat e.g. breathing, yoga, Pilates, walking, going to the beach or bush, hugging a dog, reading, having an afternoon bath….
- Get a good night’s sleep – create a routine and a rhythm that allows you to get a good quality sleep.
- Exercise – it is great for stress, balances hormones, circulates oxygen around the body and to the brain so it gives us energy, helps us sleep at night….
- Change medications if this is what could be the cause.
- Improve your diet – eat good quality proteins at every meal, reduce the CRAP (caffeine, refined carbs, alcohol, processed foods), eat LOTS of veggies and legumes, eat plant oestrogen’s several times a week (lentils, soy, flaxseed etc.), drink water…you know what you need to do 🙂
- Meditation has been shown to help. There is a specific type of meditation called ‘orgasmic meditation’ which is all about slowing sex down and being more mindful or aware of the process and sensations. Check out the link below to find out more about it: https://www.healthline.com/health/orgasmic-meditation-101
- Just do it -‘Fake it till you make it’ – sex increases sex drive and improves testosterone production. That may not be what you want to hear but it’s true. Think about it, play – make it more interesting or fun (I promise I haven’t been paid to say that by your partner’s). Try toys, different positions or places, even dress up. Maybe try it during the day when your kids are at school rather than late at night when you’re knackered or first thing in the morning when the teenagers are still comatose. Whatever works! Make it fun! Check out https://www.facebook.com/pureromanceinc/.
- If sex is painful because of a dry vagina then see your GP about an oestrogen based vaginal cream or pessary. Vagifem (NZ) is a vaginal tablet that you could ask about.
- I would recommend seeing a women’s health physio – they can check the health of your pelvis and and give you exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor which can help make sex more enjoyable.
- Try lubricants if sex is uncomfortable due to a dry vagina
- If you are experiencing Candida then consider Kolorex, which has a vaginal cream containing horopito (a NZ native plant), aloe vera and vitamin E.
- Consider taking Maca, a herbal medicine from Peru that has traditionally been used to support hormones and the transition of menopause. There there is some research that it can help with libido. Seleno Health is an amazing company that I highly recommend
Other things to consider:
I hate to say it but do you still fancy your partner? If it was Chris Evans (Captain America for those that don’t know) was making an offer would you suddenly get a 2nd wind….pardon me while I just fantastise 🙂 Is it sex or is it your partner? Be honest? What do you need to do about it? Sometimes making time to reconnect can be enough to reignite the flame. sometimes not…
According to some there is a link between a bank crisis and a bonk crisis. When money (or lack of) is causing stress, no one wants to have sex. Get some help or advice if necessary.
Lets face it lockdown probably had a lot to do with low libido – at home, stressed, with the kids is NOT a recipe for a smokin’ hot sex life. Lets not let 2020 keep us from having fun in 2021. Create an action plan, get excited and lets get bonking again!
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