Female Sexual Medicine
Female Sexual Function After Menopause
Many women notice a change in their sexual function following menopause. This is not an uncommon event and can be caused by several factors, many of them reversible. Immediately before, during, and after menopause women may begin to notice changes about themselves. These changes can be both physiological and psychological. As a result of decreasing estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels, symptoms of irritability, depression, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, decrease in vaginal length, night sweats, hot flashes, lack of sleep, incontinence, and painful sexual intercourse may occur. Taken individually, each of these symptoms may severely impact frequency and enjoyment of sexual activity. Additionally, body self-image may be impacted negatively by these changes, thereby affecting the way a woman perceives herself as a sexual being. Partner-related sexual dysfunction during this period may also contribute to a woman’s sexual health.
Symptoms associated with menopause should not prevent a woman from enjoying a healthy sex life. These symptoms may be managed with hormonal therapy (oral, transdermal, or vaginal). Hormone replacement therapy is not appropriate for all women. However, in the select patient, it can make a significant difference in terms of alleviating symptoms. Non-hormonal therapies such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, biofeedback, stress reduction, vaginal lubricants, vaginal dilator therapy, treatment for depression, partner sexual dysfunction treatment, and treatment for urinary incontinence may be used to treat specific symptoms that are found to be related to a woman’s postmenopausal sexual dysfunction.
Open discussion with your physician regarding sexual health issues is the surest way to obtain the treatment that is right for you.