Let’s talk about sex

Posted by on Jun 5, 2008 in sexual health | 0 comments


I’ve heard that menopause is often linked to problems in sexual functioning.

Now mind you, this is one issue that many of my gal pals, present company included, have yet to experience but I believe that it’s an important topic nevertheless. Indeed, other women have expressed issues around desire, capacity for orgasm, and frequency of intercourse. The question is, are these problems related to menopause and hormones or to aging? Well, apparently both.

For example, some studies have found that the sharpest decline in sexual interest for women occurs around the mean age of menopause, while others have found that menopausal status (i.e., the point of the transition) negatively affects sexual function independent of age.

Interestingly, one of the largest studies – the Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project – which followed 438 women through menopause for more than 10 years, found significant declines in female sexual functioning, responsiveness, frequency of sexual activity and libido. When the researchers compared women who went through the transition during the study to those who remained pretty much in the same phase, they found that only sexual responsiveness declined. What this implies is that our ability to respond to sexual activity is paired with aging, while all the rest of the issues, are affected by menopause.

Interestingly, among the variety of factors that may contribute (e.g. quality of intimate relationship, degree of stress, general well-being) androgen levels (i.e., testosterone) may play a role.

In a fairly recent review of 14 controlled trials in women undergoing natural or surgical menopause, researchers found a benefit from “adding back” testosterone, in terms of sexual desire, frequency, pleasure, and satisfaction. Testosterone was administered via patch, a gel, and inhaled, among others. While some of the benefits may be attributed to the so-called “placebo effect,” the results are interesting and lend promise for future studies.

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