Hormone levels change as you age, and while this doesn’t necessarily decrease libido, a study has found that 26 per cent of premenopausal women and just over half (52 per cent) of menopausal women have low libido.
“Low libido can be triggered by life pressures, mental health issues, thyroid problems, relationship difficulties, some medications or changes to hormones,” says Susan Davis, professor of women’s health at Monash University. How a woman feels about her body can also affect her sexual self-esteem and libido.
Having a satisfying sex life can be an important part of a happy relationship. Studies have found that the emotional high people can experience after sex can boost the wellbeing of both men and women.
Also, couples tend to show more affection after sexual activity, such as hugging and kissing. This affection can trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel good. Oxytocin can help reduce stress, make you calmer, improve your sleep and strengthen your social connections. So, sex can be a big part of feeling happy and healthy in a relationship.
If your desire for intimacy starts to wane without an obvious cause, it can be awkward or embarrassing to seek help. However, shifts in sex drive are a natural part of life that nearly everyone experiences at some point. By making certain lifestyle adjustments and seeking the appropriate medical guidance, you can boost your libido and reignite your passion and desire for intimacy.
Here are eight ways to increase female libido.
Conflicts in relationships can cause a strain on desire, arousal and wanting to be sexual. Likewise, strong emotions such as anger or a breach of trust can lead to one party not being interested in sex.
It is important to be able to communicate effectively and openly discuss your needs, feelings and concerns with your partner.
Take your time
For both men and women, an excellent strategy for making sex more enjoyable is to experiment with different kinds of prolonged physical touch, especially if you are working to rekindle sexual desire after a long dry spell. Joan Price, an advocate for ageless sexuality and the author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex After Fifty: How to Maintain – or Regain – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life, offers this guidance:
“As we age, our sexual needs and preferences may change. Where we like being touched, how we like being touched, even who we want to touch us may change. Let the changes be an opportunity to explore. Make a date with yourself or your partner to rediscover how your body responds. In a private, relaxed setting, spend a long, languid, sensual time touching without any goal except to experience sensation and pleasure. Don’t head straight to the genitals – explore your whole body. You may discover some new erogenous zones! Try different kinds of touch – slow, fast, light, firm, stroking, circling. If it feels natural, let yourself experience orgasm, but don’t put any pressure on yourself. Just enjoy learning what feels really good.”
When you slow down, you also get more time to spend with your partner. That’s good for your relationship overall.
“As well as enhancing blood flow, which enhances your sexual response, exercise can improve a woman’s confidence and self-image, having positive effects on her sexual wellbeing,” says Prof. Davis.
It’s also important to keep your pelvic floor muscles in shape. To get started, squeeze your pelvic floor for six seconds then release for six seconds. Do this six times, then have a two-minute break. “As your pelvic tone improves, include ‘elevator’ exercises (tighten muscles in increments, like a lift stopping on different floors) and quick exercises (10 quick flexes),” says Prof. Davis.
Shake it up
It’s easy to get into a routine with sex but branching out can really spice up your sex life. Start slow and explore each other’s bodies as if seeing them for the first time. Touch each other in new ways, and spend longer on foreplay. Try out different sex positions to see which ones feel best.
Making even a small adjustment to break up your sexual routine can increase your arousal and libido.
After menopause, it’s not uncommon to experience discomfort during sex due to vaginal dryness.
Lubricants can help moisten the vagina during sex, choose fragrance free, water-based lubricants to prevent adverse reactions.
If that doesn’t work, a vaginal moisturiser may be in order. Avoid douching, as it can also cause vaginal dryness. Your doctor may also recommend medication such as low-dose vaginal oestrogen if moisturisers and lubricants are ineffective.
Reduce stress levels
“Stress can cause chronic exhaustion, which can lower a woman’s sexual desire,” says Prof. Davis. The resulting stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, can also lower arousal by putting you in a fight or flight state, where your brain thinks you’re in danger. It’s hard to feel sexy when you feel that way. Relationship stress can also cause emotional tension and distance which may spike stress hormones and reduce sexual arousal.
After a tough day, do something calming with your partner to relax you. Listen to soft music while enjoying a glass of wine, or go for a slow stroll on the beach.
Plan a short break
Sometimes a change of scenery can work wonders for your sex life.
You don’t have to go far, but taking a trip together can really rekindle the romance. Just make sure you both turn off your phones and focus on each other.
Share the chores
One Australian study has found that women enjoy a higher libido and feel happier and more satisfied when they’re in relationships where there’s more equality, with both partners handling household chores, bills and appointments.
Do you have any other tips you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Also read: Answered: Most common concerns about having sex after 50
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.