Menopause Kuel Category Expert: Lorraine Miano,
(Excerpt from: The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back!)
Men and women are wired differently. In our stress filled lives, men often look to sex as a stress reliever, where women on the other hand, need to be relaxed and stress-free to desire or enjoy sex.
Women are two to three times as likely to have a decrease in sex drive than men as they age. There are several factors that can lead to a woman’s low libido. Hormone imbalances, which can cause unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, may cause a woman to lose her desire and drive. The hormone testosterone, which plays a part in women’s sex drive and sensation, naturally decreases as we age.
Some, but not all, women who, upon undergoing an abrupt menopause in the case of removal of both ovaries or by chemotherapy, may experience a greater reduction in their libido than women who experience natural menopause. This is due to the immediate decrease of both estrogen and testosterone. Although known as the male sex hormone, testosterone is a natural female libido enhancer. It is made in the ovaries, so once they are gone, poof! Half of your libido booster is gone!
If you find that your libido has gone limp due to either of these events, try some holistic methods to find hormonal nirvana (found throughout The Magic of Menopause). If you think you may need more help, ask your gynecologist about a bio-identical testosterone replacement.
I think we sometimes forget what pleasure we derive from the close intimate contact with our dearly beloved. Our minds are somehow conditioned to think of it as a chore to be fulfilled rather than experiencing the enjoyment of fulfillment! There is joy in sex! We are sexual beings. Remember the romance? The courtship? The pleasures? How happy it made you? You can get your happy back! Your significant other will most definitely get their happy back too!
Women will ask me, “How do I get my husband to leave me alone? How do I get him to require less sex??” I think the way to approach this is for you to require more sex! You deserve it!
You deserve to desire it! While researching holistic ways to boost libido, one in particular caught my attention: “Make sex a priority.” You heard that right. Evidently, during menopause, “without sexual activity, the vagina can become smaller and uncomfortably tighter.”
Say what?? Pain during sex is most definitely a big turn off and can lead to a lack of desire. Ultimately, this could affect your relationship. Throw in those bouts of night sweats and hot flashes and soon you are losing sleep and have become one fatigued chick! Your libido is connected to energy. If you haven’t got any, you’re probably not getting’ any!
Now the good news!!
Some great holistic ways to help with your low libido during perimenopause and menopause include the following:
- Communicate with your partner. Let them know if you are in pain. For vaginal atrophy and dryness, try using a natural lubricant like organic virgin coconut oil. It doesn’t contain any preservatives or added ingredients. It is also anti-fungal so it can help keep yeast infections at bay. Why not spice things up ahead of time and use it as a massage oil too?! Just to be sure neither you, nor your partner, are allergic to it, test it on a less sensitive area, like your arm or leg. You can also try organic water-based lubricants if coconut oil is not your thing.
*Note: Don’t use coconut oil with a condom, however, as it may break down the integrity of the condom.
- Try to remember that your largest sexual organ is your brain. Yup! Your desires, fantasies and sexual stimuli can be triggered through scents and visuals, so be sure to spice things up with candles (non-toxic ones!), essential oils, or anything you can think of that might trigger a happy outcome!
- Sexual intimacy can do wonders for your sex life. Just plain old hugging, hand holding, caressing, kissing, and sensual play are all wonderful ways to take it up a notch in your love life! I am a firm believer in hug therapy. There is proof that hugging boosts your helpful hormones! Not only that, but hugging also reduces the level of harmful hormonal effects! Research has shown that cortisol (the stress hormone) levels were significantly reduced in women during hugging sessions. The best news was that oxytocin (the pleasure hormone) was markedly increased between couples who hugged! Who doesn’t enjoy a little more pleasure?! I just LOVE hugs!
- Reduce the stress in your life. One major contributor to low libido is a stressed-out body! Reducing stress in our lives should be of the utmost importance to us as women.
- Eliminating or at least reducing your night sweats and hot flashes will most definitely help you get a good night’s sleep, and thus allow you to have more energy for sex.
- Spend time on foreplay. Put less focus on intercourse and have fun with your lover. Give each other a massage for starters. This will give you that close intimate contact, along with being a fantastic stress reliever. Try a foot rub too! Maybe take a bath together. Add some candles and essential oils. These essential oils may help awaken the love bug: rose, neroli, fennel, ylang ylang, clary sage, jasmine, sandalwood, clove bud, or patchouli.
- Kegels! These are exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, the muscles that form a “sling” that hold your reproductive organs in place. When you have a weak pelvic floor, this can lead to incontinence or the inability to control your bowels. Often times, your pelvic floor is weakened due to weight gain, pregnancy, childbirth, or simply aging. If the muscles are weak, then your organs could lower into the vagina.
You can do Kegels anywhere! In the car, standing in line, or while getting your nails or hair done.
The exercise is a simple tighten and release method. he tricky part is finding the correct muscles to use. One of the best ways to do this is by inserting a clean finger inside the vagina and tightening your vaginal muscles around it. Another good way is by stopping your urine flow. However, don’t use the urine method as a form of exercise, use it simply to find the right muscles. Always empty your bladder first before doing your Kegels. Practice makes perfect! So, begin in private and find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Once you’ve got them down pat, you can do them anywhere! To begin, tense the muscles in your pelvic floor for a count of three, then relax them for a count of three. Repeat until you have done ten repetitions. Each day increase the amount of time you hold your muscles tense until you can do it for a count of ten. Set a goal of doing three sets of ten repetitions every day.
Give it some time for the Kegels to work.It could take months before you notice a difference. Also, be cautious. You should not feel pain when doing your Kegels. If you are experiencing back or abdomen pain, then you are doing them incorrectly. When you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles, your back, abdomen and back muscles should stay loose. As with anything else, don’t overdo it! We want those muscles to be strong, not tired!
So just how do Kegels help with your sex life? Well, these are the same muscles that are responsible for the contractions you feel during climax. They tone and strengthen the vaginal muscles, which can increase your arousal, as well as causing a tighter grip during lovemaking and more intense contractions during orgasm. YES!! I’ll have what she’s having! Yowza! I see Kegels in your future!
- Be sure there aren’t any other medical conditions that may not be linked to menopause that could be causing your low energy and drive. Some possibilities could be low iron or an under active thyroid. If you happened to have been prescribed an antidepressant for hot flashes (many women are), some may cause your libido to diminish. Try a holistic method to try to combat the hot flashes before you switch to another medication. Always check with your doctor first before stopping or starting any medications or supplements.
- Speaking of supplements, here are a few recommendations of holistic supplements and foods that just might kick up the libido! Maca root, Tribulus, Gingko Biloba, Red Ginseng, Fenugreek and believe it or not, Pistachio nuts!
- If you find that you are at a point where you are struggling in your relationship and need to address other concerns before making the sexual part work, I can’t say enough about the benefits of couples counseling.
- The good news is that with a healthy lifestyle, including plenty of exercise, fresh air, staying hydrated, and eating a healthy whole food diet, you can make great strides in balancing your hormones and improving your love life.
I want you to remember that you are worth every last second of experiencing the fulfillment and joy of a satisfying, pleasurable, and magical love life.
Now go and make the stardust happen!
About the Author:
As a post-menopausal woman herself, Lorraine Miano discovered her passion of offering menopause advocacy, support and resources to women in all phases of menopause through health coaching, proper nutrition and preventive lifestyle choices. She received her certifications as a Health Coach and hormone health expert from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has been able to help even more women by writing and publishing her first book, The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back!
Lorraine loves to encourage her clients with her mantra “Menopause is NOT an ending! IT IS a new beginning!” When she’s not advocating for “the change”, you can find Lorraine traveling with her husband Richard, quite often to visit her 5 grandchildren who call her “Nonni”.