Overcoming Low Libido During The Menopause
Loss of libido in women is more common than we think, with many women blaming their lack of sex drive on being too tired, stressed or just not interested. It is a key complaint from women going through the menopause.
Some women find they can't even think about making love, others want to but don't enjoy it, finding it uncomfortable or even painful due to vaginal dryness.
The reason for these symptoms is a drop in sex hormones as the ovaries finish their job of egg production. Each one of three hormones has a specific role to play in increasing sexual desire; oestrogen for increased sensitivity and vaginal lubrication, testosterone for desire and motivation and progesterone for keeping hormonal balance and relaxed energy.
The good news is that it is not all doom and gloom and with a little application and support for hormonal balance, combined with nutritional support and a healthy lifestyle, women can enjoy a happy, fulfilling and enjoyable sex life well into old age.
Although hormone production from the ovaries drops during menopause, it does not mean women stop producing hormones altogether. Adrenal glands can take over, as long as they are not dealing with stress or being challenged by blood sugar fluctuations.
There are also many natural foods that contain molecules similar in structure to human oestrogen, called phytoestrogens, which when included in the diet may help maintain hormonal balance by filling oestrogen receptor sites. Foods like soya, flax and sesame seeds, chickpeas, beans and bean sprouts, celery, prunes, runner beans, dates and wholegrains. The plant with the highest concentration of phytoestrogens is the soya bean. However the form of phyoestrogens in soya can be difficult to digest and absorb. Asian women who consume regular soya in their diet have fewer menopausal symptoms.
The positive effects of soya isoflavones on peri and post menopausal women has been well researched and indicates they may help maintain temperature control, prevent hot flushes as well as maintain bone health.
Vaginal tissues are very receptive to oestrogen and respond by secreting lubricating fluid that makes sex more pleasurable. Vaginal dryness and atrophy following the menopause can be one of the most upsetting menopause symptoms for couples, leaving the women feeling uncomfortable and guilty and the man feeling rejected or unloved.
This problem can be counteracted by applying a simple vaginal lubricant, but make sure that it is unscented and does not contain any unpleasant preservatives or additives. Aloe Vera, vitamin E oils and glycerine found in these gels also add extra softness and comfort. Additional flax seed oil which contains Omega 3 and 6 oils, as well as vitamin E, may help to restore natural oils within the vagina when consumed in the diet.Arginine, an amino acid found in nuts and seeds, allows natural circulation and blood flow to the surrounding tissue.
Many herbs such as Mexican yam, Agnus Castus and dong quai are all rich sources of phytoestrogens. They are often blended into a cream and applied to the skin near the vagina or inner thighs in order to provide localised absorption of these plant compounds.
The adrenal glands sitting on top of the kidneys produce hormones involved in the stress response (adrenaline and cortisol) and hormones that control fluid and mineral balance, as well as sex hormones. Healthy adrenal glands allow the production of enough sex hormones to support our sex drive and help prevent some menopausal symptoms. If the adrenal glands are functioning well we feel less stressed and 'more alive', we can have more energy and vitality, and we feel better, more social and more attractive.
The stress hormone cortisol releases glucose from our body stores, in order to provide additional energy during stressful periods or if blood sugar levels drop. Cortisol is a steroid hormone made via the same metabolic pathway in our adrenal glands as progesterone, androgens and oestrogen. As the main function of the adrenals is to respond to the 'fight or flight' stress signals, it will always give priority to this pathway over and above that of producing sex hormones.
Therefore in order to support your adrenal glands to produce sex hormones, you need to balance blood sugar, eat regularly, avoid refined carbohydrates and limit caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the stress pathway, acts as a diuretic, is dehydrating and increases the excretion of magnesium, which is one of the key nutrients needed for health adrenal function.
The adrenal glands also use B vitamins and zinc. It is no surprise that foods renowned for their aphrodisiac qualities, such as oyster and shellfish, are high in zinc. To adapt to stress the adrenal glands also use large amounts of vitamin C, found in fresh fruits and raw vegetables. See: How To Cope With Stress During Menopause
So eat regularly, fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables and use seed oils as dressings. Reduce coffee and tea and replace it with water or herbal teas. When you look good and feel alive, you will naturally feel more attractive, more social and more sexual.
See: 10 Foods To Get You 'In The Mood'