Very few women welcome perimenopause with open arms. The transitional period leading up to the cessation of menstruation comes with a variety of unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms. Unlike hot flashes and night sweats however, the effects of perimenopause on the libido upset women and their partners. The loss of libido – like other perimenopausal symptoms – results from hormonal imbalance.
According to animal studies in the laboratory, estrogen primes the brain cells responsible for sexual desire, but progesterone activates them. Many women in perimenopause experience estrogen dominance, a situation in which levels of estrogen overshadow levels of progesterone. This can wreak havoc on the libido, causing marked reduction in sexual desire.
Ovulation and Libido
Ovulation and sexual desire go hand-in-hand. Because progesterone levels rise during ovulation, most women experience a boost in sexual desire at this time, barring any medical issues or complications. When ovulation lessens during perimenopause, so too does the production of progesterone and sexual desire.
How Emotions Influence the Libido during Perimenopause
The effects of perimenopause include a variety of unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, breast tenderness, mood swings, and irritability. Combined, they lead to physical exhaustion and take an emotional toll on women, both of which can impact the libido.
Ways to Help Restore Sexual Desire during Perimenopause
Women who wish to boost sexual desire during perimenopause have several options. Vaginal rings and injections can help restore levels of progesterone. Foods high in phytoestrogens like soy products, flaxseed, tofu, and wheat germ help displace some of the body's stronger natural estrogens for better hormonal balance. Supplementing with minerals like calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and zinc helps promote better sleep, and exercise, limiting alcohol use, and relaxation techniques help improve mood.
While loss of libido during perimenopause can prove distressing for females and their partners, certain techniques can help. Women also take comfort knowing that when menopause is reached and hormones balance out, sexual desire often returns and other effects of perimenopause wane.