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Low Libido And Menopause Linked

Does Menopause Cause Low Libido?


Updated January 16, 2009

Low libido, menopause and aging are all complex issue for women. Libido (amount of sexual desire) is probably determined by a whole range of complex psychological and physiological factors. I say probably because there just hasn’t been that much research on libido, menopause and aging.

A Female Viagra?

Before Viagra, the drug for male erectile dysfunction, most everyone thought that male sexual problems were psychological. Once Viagra and other medications hit the scene and were shown to be effective at helping men remain sexually active, no one continued to believe that stress and other mental factors could lead to erectile dysfunction.

Get ready to see the same progression for women.

Up to now, low libido in women was thought (by some) to be linked to emotional and psychological problems. As more research is being done in the area of female sexual dysfunction, it is becoming more and clear that female sexual problems, like low libido, have more to do with biology than psychology.

Women Answer Questions About Libido, Menopause and Aging

Some may say that women keep information about their sex lives and sexual satisfaction in a black box. While that may be true in some cases, one group of researchers got women to open up about these very issues to learn more about libido, menopause and aging.

In conducting their study, the researchers interviewed 2,200 women about their sexual desire (their libido), as well as their sexual behaviors and sexual satisfaction. The women covered a wide range of ages (30 to 70). Participants were grouped into three main categories: premenopausal, naturally menopausal and surgically menopausal (for example, women who have had a hysterectomy).

Researchers looked for factors that determined which women had low sexual desire (low libido) and which had a more serious form of low sexual desire called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

Low libido is pretty straight forward; it is having low sexual desire (which may or may not be a problem). HSDD is a more extreme form of low libido that creates distress and concern in a person. In other words, just having low libido isn’t necessarily a problem (we all don’t have a desire to act like sex-crazed teenagers), but when having low libido negatively impacts relationships and causes anxiety and worry, then it might be called HSDD.

What They Found: The results found that low libido was present in 26.7% of the pre-menopausal women. In the post-menopausal women, low libido increased to 52% (almost doubling). So, we can conclude that menopause is definitely linked to low libido.

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) was present in 12.5% of the surgically menopausal women. This was 2.3 times higher than for pre-menopausal women. HSDD in naturally menopausal women occurred at a 1.2 times higher rate. The authors conclude that there is something happening hormonally in the surgical menopause group. This means that low libido and HSDD are definitely linked to aging and biological changes in the body.

Stay Tuned for More

Look for new drugs and treatments for female sexual problems in the future. One proposed treatment is a testosterone patch that will keep female levels of testosterone (a hormone linked to libido in both men and women) higher as a women ages. With aging, testosterone levels in women drop. A patch would keep those levels up and, presumably, keep the libido higher as a result. Expect new treatments to come out of development and into the marketplace over the next few years.


Prevalence of Low Sexual Desire and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Women, July 14, 2008, West et al. 168 (13): 1441

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