Menopause and Sex

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Menopause and sex facts

  • 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 menopause.
  • Other symptoms of menopause, like trouble sleeping and mood swings, can also interfere with enjoyment of sexual activity.

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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Menopause and Sex - Symptoms Question: What symptoms have you experienced during menopause that has affected your sexual function (for example, low libido, or painful intercourse)?
Menopause and Sex - Treatments Question: What treatments have you found helpful in resolving sexual issues and menopause?
Menopause and Sex - Improve Sexual Function Question: What other remedies or treatments have you found helpful in resolving sexual problems experienced during menopause?

Painful Intercourse and Menopause

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.


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