Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Although menopause may have some
negative effects on sexual function, this is not always the case.
Each woman's experience of menopause is
unique; not all women have the same symptoms or experience symptoms with the
same degree of severity.
Decreases in estrogen levels after
menopause can cause a decrease in libido.
Vaginal dryness is another symptom of
menopause that can have an impact on sexual function.
Hormone therapy and water-soluble
lubricants are two ways to help relieve vaginal dryness associated with
Other symptoms of menopause, like
trouble sleeping and mood swings, can also interfere with enjoyment of sexual
How does menopause affect sexual function?
Just as every women experiences menopause differently, women may or may not
experience changes in sexual function after menopause. Since estrogen levels are
lower after menopause, some women may notice that their libido, or sex drive, is
decreased. Low estrogen levels can also lead to a decreased blood flow to the
vagina, resulting in difficulty with lubrication or dryness that can make sexual
intercourse less pleasant and painful for many women.
Not all women report negative changes in sexual function after menopause. For
example, some women may find sex to be more enjoyable without the fear of
pregnancy or without the potential stresses of having small children.
Reviewed by Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD on 5/30/2013
Viewer Question: I heard that sexual intercourse becomes painful after menopause. Is this true? How can I prevent this from happening?
Doctor's Response: Just as the symptoms of menopause vary among women, the extent to which individual women experience these symptoms also varies. Because menopause is associated with decreased levels of estrogen, the lining of the vagina may become drier and thinner, often leading to burning, itching, or discomfort during sexual intercourse.