You might also like these other newsletters: Please enter a valid email address Sign up Oops! Please enter a valid email address Oops! The hormones that have been regulating your reproductive cycle, sex drive, mood, and more are ebbing, and very often these low levels have a negative effect on your sex life.
Reduced levels of estrogen , testosterone , and other hormones are thought to be a primary cause of age-related female sexual dysfunction. How Female Hormones Affect Sexuality Hormones are chemicals produced by your glands and organs that act as messengers throughout your body. Different hormones control a wide array of essential body functions, including energy level, growth and development, and reproduction.
The following hormones are thought to be partially responsible for controlling a woman's sex drive: Estrogen is the primary female hormone, and it helps regulate the menstrual cycle, control the development of female sex organs, and thicken the lining of the uterus to support pregnancy.
As a woman approaches menopause — the period of time known as perimenopause, levels of estrogen begin to decrease dramatically. When estrogen levels become so low that the uterine lining no longer thickens, menopause occurs. Low levels of estrogen can have a big impact on your sex drive. You may experience vaginal dryness that can lead to painful intercourse and you may have unstable mood and sleep patterns. Testosterone, which is primarily thought of as a male hormone, is also made by, and is important to, women.
A woman's ovaries naturally produce testosterone, which is used to help make estrogen. Some studies have shown that higher levels of testosterone are associated with increased sexual desire and sexual behavior in women. And since testosterone levels tend to naturally decline in women after menopause, some researchers believe that low testosterone levels may contribute to the reduction of arousal and sexual response that often occurs in older women.
Like estrogen, progesterone is another female hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle and support pregnancy. Levels of progesterone also decline when you reach menopause. While researchers are still working to understand the role that progesterone plays in a woman's sexual function, changing levels of progesterone are thought to be involved in a woman's sexual behavior. Keeping Your Sex Drive Alive While declining female hormones may lead to a loss of sexual desire, difficulty becoming aroused, and the inability to reach orgasm , these changes do not happen to all older women.
And if you do experience problems with sexual function over time, there are treatments that can help you stay sexually active well into your later years. Treatment options for hormone-related female sexual dysfunction include: Taking estrogen hormone therapy can help relieve symptoms of low estrogen levels, including vaginal dryness. For many women, estrogen therapy can make sex more comfortable and enjoyable. However, since estrogen therapy has been associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer, it is recommended that women with an intact uterus take progesterone along with estrogen, to reduce this risk.
Another way to deliver estrogen to your body is through vaginal estrogen creams. These creams are thought to help increase vaginal lubrication and sexual arousal in postmenopausal women. Many studies have looked at using testosterone supplementation to help improve sexual desire in women with female sexual dysfunction.
Researchers have found that testosterone therapy may improve sexual desire in postmenopausal women who have problems with sex drive and sexual satisfaction as well. Because these treatments carry risks, fully discuss the pros and cons of each option with your doctor. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes, such as stress management and getting adequate sleep and exercise, may restore sexual desire without the risks of hormonal therapies.