Just Because You Are Going Through Menopause Does Not Mean That Your Sex Life is Over
Menopause and sex life CAN go hand-in-hand with ease, despite what you might have heard. After all, it’s no wonder that women can lose their sex drive when hormones start to decline! Mental and physical changes can be unpleasant, and those can cause you to lose your desire for sex.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling hopeless about your sex life, which may cause you to lose the vitality that you once had. Sex isn’t just about physical pleasure. It’s also a special way to experience emotional and physical intimacy with your partner. When you are having intimate sex, the feel-good hormones are released into your system such as dopamine and oxytocin. These are good for your health and well-being. Sex also benefits your cardiovascular system. We understand that it’s not all about sex. It’s also the way you FEEL as you’re going through this time of your life. Many women, just like yourself, may feel like the “old” you are gone, but that’s not the case! Mid-life can be a beautiful time, and give you more wisdom and confidence than you’ve ever had before. Not only that, but you can also feel more comfortable with your sex life than ever!
As you enter mid-life, hormone levels begin to fluctuate and decline. This can affect the quality of your sex life along with other aspects of your health and well-being. Fortunately, times have changed considerably! You have a lot more options including bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Depending on your age, you may remember your mother or grandmother talking about “the change” and how old it made them feel. This is not the case anymore!
You might be wondering how you know that you are in menopause. It is actually more of a process than a one-time event. For example, “menopause” is defined as the cessation of the menses and you are technically menopausal a year after you had your last menstrual cycle.
However, this process of hormonal changes can take some time. The time frame leading up to menopause is referred to as perimenopause and it’s a natural form of aging. Perimenopause can happen over a period of just a few years for some, or it can take several years, depending on each person. In general, the hormones that will decline are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid levels can change as well.
Other Factors Can Hasten Onset of Symptoms
While the process of perimenopause to menopause is generally gradual, there are some factors that can bring on symptoms feel more sudden including:
- Diabetes and other chronic health conditions
- Insulin Resistance
- Family history of earlier menopause
- Cancer – some cancer drugs cause the ovaries to stop producing hormones
- Hysterectomy – A hysterectomy will cause you to experience full-on menopausal symptoms just weeks after your surgery, especially if you have had your ovaries removed.
How Hormones Affect Your Sex Life
Hormones don’t just affect your sex life. They also affect other factors such as your overall health and mental state. We want to reassure you that you are not crazy, even though you may feel that way at times! There is hope and relief available for you at our clinic in Las Colinas. Our providers are all expertly trained in bioidentical hormone therapy. They also look at other important markers in your labs so that they are treating the big picture of your health and wellness.
What Causes Hormones to Decline?
- Stress levels
Women only need a small amount of testosterone supplementation compared to men. Most report feeling like their old selves again after just a few weeks with increased mood and motivation. Other hormonal shifts occur in the perimenopause and menopausal stages of life such as decreased progesterone and estrogen. All hormone levels should be tested for optimal health and well-being.
Our providers are experts in balancing hormones. Our lab testing is much more comprehensive than what most doctors typically run. This allows us to see the big picture and determine exactly what is causing your symptoms. We also address any issues that may affect your long-term health. Our mission is for you to feel your absolute best!
Symptoms of Perimenopause/Menopause Can Include:
- Loss of libido
- Painful sex
- Less frequent or weaker orgasms
- Loss of muscle mass
- Irregular or heavier periods
- Brain fog
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Weight gain
- Loss of muscle mass
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Excessive hair growth in unwanted places
- Loss of energy/desire
- Hair loss
- Heart palpitations
- Changes in skin texture
While estrogen is the “primary” female hormone, progesterone and testosterone are equally important. All of the cells in the vagina have both estrogen and progesterone receptors. Estrogen is the hormone that keeps the vagina elastic, moisturized, and well-supplied with blood flow.
Estrogen levels start to fluctuate and decline during perimenopause. They can do so in an irregular manner. This is why you may start to experience irregular or heavier periods.
With lower estrogen levels, the vagina can change. You are likely to experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness, atrophy, itchiness, burning, and painful sex. Sex is not as pleasurable since dryness and atrophy can cause it to be painful.
Estrogen and progesterone hormones complement each other. Usually, in perimenopause, progesterone levels can wane before estrogen. When you don’t have enough progesterone, estrogen dominates. A lot of women do not realize the cause of what is making them have symptoms such as:
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Depression/mood swings
- Heavy bleeding
- Irregular periods
There are some other remedies that can help with low progesterone levels which include:
- Eating foods such as shellfish that contain zinc
- Increasing your uptake of vitamins C and B, which can help maintain levels of progesterone
- Reducing stress levels. When you are very stressed, more cortisol is released, which can also reduce progesterone
As progesterone levels fall in perimenopause, estrogen can start to spike. This can cause more thickening of the uterine lining and create fibroids and can even cause endometriosis. Periods may become much heavier with clotting can occur since both of these conditions are fueled by estrogen.
Testosterone is a hormone that is directly related to libido. It’s a myth that only men have testosterone; women produce it too, just at much lower levels. Unlike progesterone and estrogen which fluctuate and decrease during perimenopause, testosterone is a more gradual decline.
For both men and women, testosterone usually peaks in the late twenties to early thirties and then gradually starts to wane. On average, women’s testosterone levels at age 50 will be about half of what they were in their twenties.
Other factors that can contribute to low testosterone in women include having a hysterectomy, especially if the ovaries are removed. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, chances are that you have been thrown into full-blown menopause within a very short time period and your symptoms are going to be much more severe. Other hormones will be affected too.
Adrenal gland fatigue and pituitary dysfunction can also contribute to low T.
- Decreased libido/less interest in intimacy
- Mood changes to include anxiety and depression
- Thinning skin
- Hair loss
- Reduced strength and muscle mass
- Abdominal weight gain
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of “pep” and motivation
Other Conditions can mimic the symptoms of low testosterone levels in women such as hypothyroidism, iron deficiency, and depression. If estrogen and progesterone are also out of balance, your symptoms will be worse.
Current research shows that testosterone supplementation can drastically affect how women feel overall. Most noted an increased libido. They also see better results when exercising because muscle mass will increase and body fat will decrease when testosterone is in balance. Studies also report that women see an overall change in mood and are more motivated and energized.
The Symphony of Hormones
Hormones act in a synergistic manner with each other. If one is out of balance, others are likely to be as well. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are over 50 hormones in a woman’s body. These signals “tell your body what to do and when to do it.” Hormones are essential for your health and for life.
There are some providers out there who advertise that they can help you feel better with hormone replacement therapy. But, they may only test your sex hormones and will prescribe you supplementation for those.
If you’ve been down this road before, you already realize that while this type of approach may alleviate some of your symptoms, you will not feel optimal and your overall health concerns may be overlooked.
Our providers at Forum Health understand that all hormones work synergistically with each other. We also want to keep your overall health in mind, and our extensive lab panels check other key health markers. We can give a much more thorough idea of what’s going on within your body and mind. Also, we are always willing to work with your other health providers as needed.
Other Factors That Affect Your Endocrine System
There are so many other factors that affect your endocrine system and long-term health. Because we always look at the big picture, we are able to help not only alleviate your symptoms but also get you to feel like your old self again. You have a lot of choices out there who claim to be “Low T” experts. We find that a lot of women who have been to these types of clinics come to us because they are still not feeling normal. This is because some of these clinics will only check the sex hormones and omit the other markers that we test.
We want to ensure that you’re healthy for a long time to come! All of us here spend plenty of time with you to get to know you and your specific concerns. We run a comprehensive lab panel so that we can see the big picture of your current state of health. We also understand that lab results don’t always give us the full picture. Your diagnostic testing may show that you are in the “normal” range, but you are still not feeling good. We offer our services in a warm, compassionate, and safe environment.
Hormones are chemical messengers that affect just about every physiological process in the body. They also work synergistically with each other, so if one hormone level is not optimal, other hormones can be affected.
Restoring hormonal balance has many positive health benefits, in addition to providing relief from symptoms. Our providers offer extensive laboratory testing to specifically identify which hormones for women might need balancing. This testing also looks at other health markers which provide a whole-body picture so that optimal hormone balance can be achieved. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.