HORMONES AND ISD: MENOPAUSE

Menopause, the permanent end to menstruation, brings with it a number of physical and psychological changes that can affect sexual desire. For one thing, estrogen levels decrease dramatically, making the vagina less pliable and slower to lubricate. As a result, it may take longer to get sexually aroused. If penetration occurs before you have lubricated adequately, intercourse may be uncomfortable or even painful—which obviously does little to nurture sexual desire. And some women become so preoccupied with hot flashes or vaginal irritations that they find it difficult to develop interest in or even think about sex. However, loss of desire and less sexual satisfaction after menopause are far from a biological certainty. In fact, after menopause many women find sex to be more satisfying.

By using lubricants during intercourse or simply adapting what you do, you can continue having comfortable and satisfying sex. And estrogen replacement therapy, which improves lubrication, controls hot flashes, and often enhances a woman's general sense of well-being, can have a positive effect on sexual desire.

Unfortunately, these physical remedies may have little or no impact on ISD if menopause triggered it. Low self-esteem, anxieties about aging or the end of the child-bearing years, negative feelings about sex or a strained relationship with your partner—all of which contribute to ISD—cannot be cured by taking a pill or trying a new approach to sex. And these problems plague many postmenopausal women and their partners.

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Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction

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