Today we're continuing our journey through Menopause and covering the all too familiar...low sex drive. Before jumping in, if you're new here make sure to follow the Balancing Hormones in Menopause topic to catch up on this series of information.
Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are key players in the maintenance of circulation, nerve transmission and cell division. So, an imbalance of these hormones can easily lead to changes in sexual response.
Declining estrogen levels common to the menopausal years can dampen nerve impulses during sex, making us less sensitive to vibration and touch. Since estrogens increase blood flow to sexually sensitive areas, decreased levels can slow or diminish the arousal response.
Imbalances of estrogen and testosterone can cause dryness and thinning of vaginal tissue making intercourse uncomfortable or downright painful – an effect that does absolutely nothing for libido.
Key to a normal sex drive is the right balance of estrogen to progesterone. Excess estrogen can reduce thyroid function, which inhibits libido. A balance stabilizes mood and supports thyroid function, which enhances libido. Significantly, progesterone is also a precursor to estrogen and testosterone, so we need it in steady supply for optimal sexual pleasure.
Testosterone and DHEA also have a major impact on sex drive. Levels gradually decline in the years leading to menopause but can drop dramatically after oophorectomy or chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
If you have a low libido and have lost interest in sex, saliva testing to measure levels of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA-S can establish probable cause and a rationale for correcting the imbalance.
Next up, we'll be covering bioidentical hormones during menopause.
xox, Dr. G