Did you know that statistics show the life expectancy of women in the US is over 82 years! And while menopause can occur in women from their 40’s to 60’s… the average age of menopause in the US is 51.4 years.This means that over a THIRDof your life will be following this “change”!
Think about that…
A third of the passion and pleasure that you will experience in your ENTIRE life will be after going through menopause!!! So it really helps for you to better understand exactly what this “change” is all about.
Natural menopause occurs after 12 consecutive months of no periods. Biochemical tests may not be reliable guides to an accurate diagnosis. Even an elevated FSH level (>30 mIU/ml) does not necessarily diagnose menopause. (By the way, FSH is short for follicle-stimulating hormone, and it regulates the development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes of the body.)
At the time of menopause, a woman’s ovaries cease to ovulate, or release an egg… which means she can no longer conceive children. Due to this change in ovarian function, the body makes certain hormones, specifically estradiol, in much smaller quantities.
Estradiol is the most potent form of estrogen in a woman’s body. During your normal menstrual cycle, your body produces and circulates a level of estradiol that fluctuates from 120 pg/ml during menstration… up to 600 pg/ml during the ‘follicular’ phase your cycle (just before ovulation).
After ovulation, the level of estradiol drops back to 200 pg/ml and can fluctuate up to 400 pg/ml until returning to 120 pg/ml during menstruation phase. This continues during your child-bearing years.
At menopause…your ‘circulating’ estradiol level…which for your adult life has been fluctuating between 120 pg/ml to up to 600 pg/ml…can now drop to as low as 5 to 10 pg/ml!!
During menopause…when your level of estradiol plummets, certain physiological symptoms may occur. These symptoms may include:
- Vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse
- Night sweats/interrupted sleep
- Hot flashes
- Changes in concentration/verbal skills
- Mood swings
- Facial hair growth, especially on the upper lip/chin
- Less hair growth in other areas, such as the scalp and pubic area.
For some women, these symptoms are mild and easily tolerated. For others, the hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, and poor sleep become intolerable. This may lead some women to pursue hormone therapy, whereas other women may not need it.
While we women may become moodier and more easily agitated as we age, men tend to become mellower. The levels of testosterone in aging men and women account for this switch. Believe it or not, as we age, men’s and women’s brains actually, in this regard, become more alike.
In men, testosterone levels decrease, which tends to make them calmer and less competitive. They will also tend to display fewer risk-taking behaviors.
Women, on the other hand, at the time of menopause, experience a precipitous drop in estrogen levels, causing the ratio of testosterone/estrogen to increase: more testosterone relative to estrogen. This causes menopausal women to often be more confident, less aware of or concerned about what others may think of them, more internally driven, and more like their “younger” husbands. The relative increase in testosterone also predisposes menopausal women to increased facial hair growth, specifically on the chin and upper lip.
For some very fortunate women, the release from worry about pregnancy is a major turn-on for more sex. However, for the majority of women, the decrease in the ovarian production of estradiol and progesterone can lead to less interest towards sexual desire.
Although ups and downs in your libido can be alarming and potentially threatening to your relationship, do not become fearful that you are somehow “abnormal.”
Instead, along with you partner, try to really understand the differences in desire between men and women in general, and then isolate the causes of your own lagging libido. When your partner understands how the negative hormonal changes are affecting your physical and emotional responses to his sexual advances… the tensions that so often emerge from these difficult encounters can be lightened.
Together, you can absolutely tame the above-mentioned unruly factors and work within these constraints.
Try a few of these simple techniques to begin creating a more satisfying relationship and sex life for you and your partner:
- Have your partner acknowledge your feelings and offer you comfort and understanding
- Pay attention to how you feel… know when your libido is the strongest and arrange to spend time alone during this time.
- Create no pressure to perform.
- Enhance the effects by eating foods with aphrodisiac properties
- Create a romantic atmosphere with candles and scents
- Communicate…Open communication is one of the keys to maintaining a strong relationship through these times when your level of desire is less than what you’re used to.
It’s important to listen to your body in order to understand why you feel uninterested in sex. As long as you are capable of openly communicating these factors to your partner, you can learn to work with these changes and create a new and exciting chapter in your relationship.
Remind your partner why you love them, and encourage them. This can go a long way toward helping you both feel secure, loved, respected, and appreciated.
Remember to leave me a comment to let me know how this information has helped you… or if it sparked even more questions about menopause and your libido… let me know that too! I will address it in a future post.