Perimenopause Can Suck It #6: A Waning Libido

The Perimenopause Can Suck It series is one of the most popular on this site.  I’d like to believe it’s because we’re all either on the crazy train or about to board.  Either way, you can gain useful information within these posts to use when the the doors slam shut and there’s no getting off until you exit into Post-Menopause Land.

ALL ABOARD!

Perimenopause Can SUCK IT #6

If you want to go back and start from the beginning, you can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five here.

Today, we’re gonna talk about sex and perimenopause. S-E-X.

While Part Four covered all the vagina-talk you could stand, with words like lube and latex thrown in for good measure, today we’re gonna talk about a waning libido.

I had the chance to speak to an OB/GYN doctor recently about perimenopause and sex-drive and she was a wealth of interesting observations gleaned throughout her career.

* More often than not, she has been asked by patients in their 50s how to tell their husbands they never want to have sex again.

WHAT?  I asked her to clarify. Never?  Never ever?  She honestly had the saddest face I’ve seen on any of my doctors when she answered: Never again.

It’s not often that I am shocked into silence, but this was definitely one of them. Weren’t the years after entering menopause supposed to free women to enjoy their sex lives without fear of pregnancy?  Weren’t the later years, sans kids in their house, supposed to be the years of sex on the couch, sex in the guest room (sorry for those of you who visit…eep!), sex on the kitchen floor (not really.  that’s some hard tile, y’all!)?  Sex, sex, sex!  Right?  Anyone else floored by the doc’s statement?

Women wait for this particular freedom, many of us have spent hours fantasizing about it…when the kids are grownwhen I no longer have to worry about pregnancy… and she was telling me that once we get through the toughest parts of our lives, some no longer want sex, ever again?!

It didn’t make sense to me, so I sat there with my mouth hanging open, thinking about why the divorce rates among the 50 and over crowd suddenly made more sense.

A study entitled The Gray Divorce Revolution gave us this stat: The divorce rates among adults ages 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010.

I am not trying to imply sex alone is the cause, merely making the connection that women deciding that they were done with sex, without spousal communication, could be a contributing factor.

* Sex can be painful after menopause because of hormonal shifts.

Dips in estrogen or progesterone cause dryness and thinning of the vaginal wall.  This is where lubes come in (part four…seriously, go read it) and can be extremely helpful in a woman’s continuing quest for a healthy post-menopausal sex life.

Cliff Notes on the dryness cycle lube can help break: By now, many of us are aware that as we enter and traverse perimenopause, our estrogen levels are decreasing.  Less estrogen = a drying effect south of the border, er, in our vaginas. Less moisture in our vaginas = sex is gonna hurt.  Sex is gonna hurt = excuses not to have sex.  No sex = stupid vagina.

Testosterone levels also wane during this time, which we all know by now is tied to libido.  What you may not know is that it also causes decreased energy (not tonight, dear) and the loss of your sense of well-being (not tonight dear, I don’t feel pretty/happy/sexy/well).

For some women the loss is so great that they actually find sex repulsive, in much the same way as they felt before puberty. (source)

Oh, man.  Time to get yourself to a doc and see if they can help with that (they can…”YAY!” said every man ever.)

My doc advised that most women choose to go on some sort of hormone replacement therapy.  Some HRT meds are topical (directly placed on the vagina) and some are taken by mouth.

When I told her that I planned on going drug-free, she said with a straight face, “I’ll pray for you.”

That can’t be good.

* Communication is key.  My doc advised that her experience in advising women to speak frankly with their husbands/partners about their needs and the changes taking place were met with resistance.  Many women are simply too embarrassed.

Again, I was almost rendered speechless.  Ladies!  We are the talkers of the genders (for the most part).  We are the keepers of all things healthy for our families.  Shouldn’t that same care be extended towards yourself?

Do you want to continue a healthy sex life, yet are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted?  TELL YOUR HUSBAND!

Do you wish you wanted sex, but feel like those days are over?  TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!

Do you feel like you were sold a bill of goods about sex later in life that you’ll never get to enjoy?  TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR AND HUSBAND!

It’s my experience that Husbands want what’s best for the wonderful gals they married.  They don’t want to feel like they’re forcing themselves on you, but, listen carefully: THEY STILL WANT SEX.  Unless they don’t, which would put them in the minority.

My point here is talk to someone.  Perimenopause is a time in your life, a phase.  It. Will. Pass.

There are days now when Husband walks through the front door at the end of the day and I advise him not to get in my way.  Whether or not I’m experiencing crashing fatigue, rage or simply don’t want him touching me, he knows not to push the issue.  We’ve come to an agreement: He heeds to the words I’m saying and gets to keep his limbs.

Usually, by the next day, all is well again and we have a good laugh.

Communication is key.

* There is a wealth of information available and my doc encourages all of her patients to educate themselves.  Knowledge is power and all that jazz!

Yep.  Lots of information.   Some docs say too much information, or that the quality lacks.  Some say to stay off the Internet.  Some encourage our search.  But, how do you know what to take and what to leave?

Personally, I look for annotated info. Look for links to trusted sources.  If something seems too good/bad to be true, trust your gut and then research the subject yourself.  If many sources are leading you in the same direction, it’s a good guess that info is sound.

One thing I love to do is torture my docs.  I’ll do my research then take it along with me to my visits.  I let them give me a lowdown on what to pursue further or what to chuck.  So far, they’ve been willing participants in my goal to fill my brain with the good stuff.

Good to remember: Perimenopause is not a disease; it’s a natural step in every women’s journey.

* Tricks of the trade for a waning libido.

Oh, momma!  Let’s get tricky!

~ Set the mood.  Ugh, I hate this one.  Everyone wants sex to happen organically, right?  But, you gotta work with what you gots, momma!  So, if preparing a romantic spot with soft lighting and music, maybe a glass of wine and some chocolate, is what’s called for…get to dimming those bulbs!

~ Role Playing.  I’ll leave this one for you to discuss.

~ Try a different time of day.  Men’s testosterone peaks in the morning, so….

~ Try something/somewhere new.  Again, leaving this one to you.

~ Take a serious review of your health.  Smoking, excessive drinking and weight gain are later-in-life sex killers.  Maybe a collaborative get-fit routine or a let’s-stop-smoking campaign is just what you need to get started.

~ Get enough sleep.

~ Pay attention to your diet and eat with fueling your body in mind…with some wine and whipped cream chocolates thrown in for good measure.

BONUS TIP: Strength training, in both men and women, is the most effective way to boost testosterone.  All-natural solution, baby.  Shall I repeat that?

This list is certainly not exhaustive and this article doesn’t take medical issues into account (men’s or women’s), but it’s a start for those of us who can be proactive.

Experiencing perimenopause doesn’t mean we have to interpret it as the end of our fulfilling sex lives.  We are women, dadgumit.  We’re fighters and warriors and sexy mommas.  Let’s not give up in the face of crashing fatigue and rage and a general sexual malaise.  Instead, let’s look perimenopause in the eye and release our battle cry, “THAT’S ALL YOU GOT?!”

Perimenopause can suck it.

 

* Disclaimer: All information in this series is based on my personal experience and is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s advice.

~If you liked this post, please help me spread the SUCK IT love by sharing on your favorite social media. Thank you!~

 

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Comments

  1. I’m so glad you’re talking about this. My friends and I are in a different stage of life (young children) where waning interest is pretty common–we’re all just so tired and touched out from the day. I think communication is KEY for women in all stages–such an important part of marriage!

  2. “Let’s talk about sex, baby
    Let’s talk about you and me…”

    You probably do not know that song. Nevermind.

    But note to self: when I head on my summer road trip to TX, plan to camp. Can’t stay at Patti’s cause of all the bow chick a bow wow.

  3. I’m laughing and almost crying at the same time. Love this post. The big Menopause slapped me right across the face this past year, in one fell swoop. Gone, just like that… And left me with an extra 20 lbs and no energy and well, you know. My couch has a super sonic magnet that attracts by butt when I walk by it. Looks like I’d better find my 2 lb weights and get to workin’ out !!

  4. I am past the whole menopausal stage…went through it it my early 40’s. Still have hot flashes…am now in my early 60’s. I did the whole on hormones, off hormones, on hormones….couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to take them or not. But I did decide I didn’t want sex anymore. I don’t think it had anything at all to do with menopause, although I am sure there are people who would argue that point. I have had the best and most fulfilling sex life that one can imagine. I just don’t want to DO IT anymore. So, what is wrong with that??
    Of course I talked it over with my husband. He, like most men, didn’t understand. So sometimes we ‘did it’ just for him. And now I am taking care of a dying husband whom I feel the greatest intimacy with and it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with sex. So in the end it just doesn’t matter.

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Firstly, I commend you for your devotion to your husband. May we all experience such intimacy.

      Secondly, I was speaking mostly to the group of women who have qualms about communicating their needs to their spouses. Our society is so geared towards sex that many women feel that they can’t say no, even if that is what they genuinely want. I was also speaking to those who are distressed with their waning desires, who don’t want their sex lives to be over, yet felt they may have no control.

      To those, like yourself, who have made the decision to stop having sex, and have discussed it with their partners, who is anyone to judge your decisions? Certainly not me. Brava for having the strength to voice your needs. That’s the aim of this series: to be aware of and to assert your needs during a tumultuous passage.

      I sincerely thank you for joining this important conversation. Please come back again.

  5. Such a great series!! My hubby is 35 and about a year ago he was diagnosed with low testosterone. He’d probably had Low T for many years before but just didn’t know that’s what was wrong. He tried that Andro Gel with no changes…actually got worse. So it’s Testosterone injections weekly for him. I don’t know how much longer he has to keep taking the shots, but he’s finally back to his normal self.

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Thank you, Taylor. You’ve made a great point: it’s not just the ladies who are effected by changes. I’m glad he thought enough to go to a doc and get it looked at!

  6. Just read all your series on peri menopause. Hilarious and true! I am 37 and was forced into menapause overnight due to breast cancer. My cancer just loved estrogen so bye bye ovaries! Since chemo shut down my ovaries, I got to experience those lovely hot flashes before the ovaries were gone! So far, hot flashes still suck but have gotten a little better. Weight gain stinks! Doesn’t help with wanting to get in the mood. Although to be fair, having my double mastectomy plays a part in it too. I really enjoyed your series of posts. Love your honest and funny approach. Sometimes it is not so fun to be a woman!

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Oh Julie, I am so sorry for the beast you faced and then to have to deal with perimenopause on top of it.
      You’re right, it is NOT fun being a woman sometimes.

      Thank you for commenting and sharing your story with us. I’m thrilled that you loved the series. Power in knowledge, right? Then throw in a little humor and maybe a tasty umbrelly drank!

      Please come back…often! Happy New Year!

  7. All that I have to say is that I went thru Peri, then the real thing…got rid of all of my heavy sweaters etc over the years, and wondered ‘when will I ever be cold again, though this DOES save on the heating bills” 🙂 and NOW just my luck in the coldest weather in 20 years guess whose meno hot flashes and temp finally wore off ! 🙂

    I have all the luck, freezing in Western PA during our Arctic Blast 🙂

    Happy New Year 🙂

  8. Oh. My. Word!!! I am laughing so hard I wiped the tears off my face, knocked my glasses off, put them back on, read another part (once I found part 6 I HAD to go back and read all parts on this) laughed all over again, knocked glasses off again! You know where I’m going with this! My face hurts 🙂

    When I was about 40 (52 now) I came home from work one day to find my husband and 3 kids on the couch watching Oprah, of all things! Didn’t know they were fans. All 8 eyeballs look at me. I look at them quizzically and say what’s going on? My husband, clearly trying to test the waters of my mood, says to me, in his best-kindest-please-don’t hurt me voice, “honey, I think this might be what’s wrong with you.” I say, as my head does a 360 degree turn, “You think something is wrong with me???” Ok, my head didn’t really do that but you know what I’m saying?! Clearly they had been conspiring against me! The whole show was on MENOPAUSE! I nearly removed all their heads right then and there! I sat down, on a separate chair of course, cuz don’t be touching me, and listened as my life was spoken of right there on tv. Kind of like that Roberta Flack song Killing Me Softly, he sang as if he knew me…….you know the words! And that’s how I came to realize IT had begun!

    Lube is from heaven! Seriously! Exercise and just being outside has saved all the lives of my family!

    Thanks so much for this serious from the bowels laughter! That was great! 😀

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      You have no idea how happy it makes me to #1) hear from those who are either in this process or already on the other side and #2) to read that I made you laugh…hard! Oh man. Great way to start this day. Thank you for not only taking the time to read the articles but to comment. The visual of your entire family on the couch watching Oprah (what?!) because they had discovered what was “wrong” with you = hysterical. Your reaction, even funnier.

      Thanks again for the first good laugh of the day!

  9. After going through menopause and experiencing what you have mentioned above, I wish there were explanations for us older gals in the past. We just lived with it. Not much being wrote on it and I say WOOHOO to you for helping other women. Very informative and thanks for sharing.

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Thank you for that. I have said through so much of what has happened to me as a woman, came as a complete shock or surprise. COME ON! We need to talk about this stuff…it’s a natural progression and to shed some light, any light, is my motivation.

  10. Patti you have always come through with the best heartfelt and funny observations and educations about real life! As I am going through peri menopause myself, I have to confess to most of the symptoms, although thankfully, not a lower libido…

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      This is probably one of the best comments I’ve ever received. A deeply grateful thank you!

      You may now return to your regularly scheduled bow-chick-a-bow-wow.

  11. Thanks for sharing about this *taboo* topic! It’s helpful to know what to watch and plan for.

  12. thanks for sharing – many people don’t!
    elle
    southernellestyle.com

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