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Does A Woman's Sex Drive Decrease With Age? What Experts Have To Say

As women get older, they tend to have less sex and it is something everybody 'knows' even without being aware of the scientific legitimacy behind it. Various studies have been conducted on exploring the impact of age on sexual problems in women and have asserted on the high numbers of women facing low sex drive [1] .

Low sex drive in women is not a rare occurrence because more than 40 per cent of women face the issue with various reasons pertaining to it. According to a study conducted on age and sexual health in women, it was pointed out that the number of women having (regular) sex declines with age and the number of women enjoying sex post menopause is even lower.

Loss of sexual desire, medically termed as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), is increasingly common in women above the age of 45, the age at which most women reach menopause [2] .

"There are several reasons why sexual drive may slow down for women when they get older. That is, when the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, the vaginal lining becomes thinner and results in less vaginal elasticity, muscle tone, and lubrication - which in turn results in sexual arousal taking more time", asserted Dr Arya Krishnan, Boldsky's medical expert.

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Menopause Causes Low Sex Drive In Women

According to a study published in 'Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society', menopause-related problems such as painful sex and vaginal discharge can affect a woman's sexual function [3] [4] .

The study took into consideration, the factors such as hot flashes, sleep disruption, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse to gather a clearer understanding of the implication of menopause and low sex drive in women.

The study pointed out that, apart from the aforementioned factors, body image concerns, stress, self-confidence and perceived desirability, mood changes and relationship issues - 'side effects' of menopause also contribute towards decreasing the sexual drive in a woman over the age of 45 [5] .

"During the menopause transition, a woman undergoes the physical effects of declining oestrogen levels such as night sweats, hot flashes and vaginal dryness can reduce the sexual motivation and drive. The age-related testosterone decrease (not directly linked to menopause) can also reduce sexual desire in women over the age of 45", asserted Dr Darshan Jayanth.

It Is Not Just Physical - It Is Mental And Emotional Too!

Unlike erectile dysfunction in men, loss of sexual desire in women is caused due to various reasons (a combination of both mental and physical factors), which cannot be treated with the use of medicines[4] [6] .

"Women's sexuality tends to be multifaceted and fairly complicated", asserted Sheryl Kingsberg, a sex psychologist [7] .

Studies have stressed the major role played by menopause, wherein a woman undergoes psychological changes which contribute towards sexual dysfunction. According to a study in Endocrinology & Metabolism Clinics of North America, sexual dysfunction in women increase with age and is exceedingly reported in menopausal women.

Consequently, the physiological factors such as vaginal dryness and changes in oestrogen levels induce not only physical changes in a woman but also emotional changes, affecting the mood. These factors (or changes) can provoke a woman to think that her low sex drive is causing problems in her relationship with her partner, which can further worsen the situation [8] [1] .

Getting The Desire Back In Women!

Low sex drive or declining sexual desire with age in women is not something one has to live with forever. It is not necessary that one has to accept the lack of sexual desire as there are various measures such as therapies and counselling which could help in improving the condition and regaining the sexual desire [9] .

Some of the measures that help are [10]

  • sex therapy or relationship counselling,
  • changing medications or altering the dose (if the lack of sexual desire is caused by medicines),
  • addressing underlying medical conditions,
  • using vaginal oestrogens, and
  • testosterone therapy.
View Article References
  1. [1] Bachmann, G. A., Leiblum, S. R., Sandler, B., Ainsley, W., Narcessian, R., Shelden, R., & Hymans, H. N. (1985). Correlates of sexual desire in post-menopausal women. Maturitas, 7(3), 211-216.
  2. [2] Brotto, L. A. (2017). Evidence-based treatments for low sexual desire in women. Frontiers in neuroendocrinology, 45, 11-17.
  3. [3] Simon, J. A., Kingsberg, S. A., Goldstein, I., Kim, N. N., Hakim, B., & Millheiser, L. (2019). Weight Loss in Women Taking Flibanserin for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD): Insights Into Potential Mechanisms. Sexual medicine reviews.
  4. [4] Goldstein, I., Kim, N. N., Clayton, A. H., DeRogatis, L. R., Giraldi, A., Parish, S. J., ... & Stahl, S. M. (2017, January). Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH) expert consensus panel review. In Mayo clinic proceedings (Vol. 92, No. 1, pp. 114-128). Elsevier.
  5. [5] McCabe, M. P., Sharlip, I. D., Atalla, E., Balon, R., Fisher, A. D., Laumann, E., ... & Segraves, R. T. (2016). Definitions of sexual dysfunctions in women and men: a consensus statement from the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine 2015. The journal of sexual medicine, 13(2), 135-143.
  6. [6] Salvatore, S., Nappi, R. E., Parma, M., Chionna, R., Lagona, F., Zerbinati, N., ... & Leone Roberti Maggiore, U. (2015). Sexual function after fractional microablative CO2 laser in women with vulvovaginal atrophy. Climacteric, 18(2), 219-225.
  7. [7] Healthy Women. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthywomen.org/about-us/medical-expert/sheryl-kingsberg-phd
  8. [8] Achilli, C., Pundir, J., Ramanathan, P., Sabatini, L., Hamoda, H., & Panay, N. (2017). Efficacy and safety of transdermal testosterone in postmenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fertility and sterility, 107(2), 475-482.
  9. [9] Cappelletti, M., & Wallen, K. (2016). Increasing women's sexual desire: the comparative effectiveness of estrogens and androgens. Hormones and Behavior, 78, 178-193.
  10. [10] Clayton, A. H., Goldstein, I., Kim, N. N., Althof, S. E., Faubion, S. S., Faught, B. M., ... & Davis, S. R. (2018, April). The International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health process of care for management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 93, No. 4, pp. 467-487). Elsevier.

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