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"Doctor, I love my husband. But at this point, I will do anything to avoid being intimate with him. We go to bed at different times, or I tell him I'm too tired. I feel horribly guilty. He feels rejected. It is tearing us apart."
One of our menopausal patients, Francis, was in tears as she shared this embarrassing secret. We reassured her that she wasn't alone in having these thoughts—nearly 50 percent of menopausal women privately confess to similar feelings. Yet, this decrease in sex drive is rarely brought out in the open to be discussed or treated.
Where Did My Sex Drive Go?
The average age for menopause is 51. Often, women will first notice an irregularity to the menstrual cycle—skipping periods, lighter flow. During this stage, called perimenopause, the production of hormones—estrogen, progesterone and testosterone—by the ovary declines significantly. In fact, testosterone production actually starts to decline after age 30.
Women in this phase of life can experience hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, vaginal thinning, depression and decreased libido. It is during this erratic and unpredictable transition from normal hormone levels to low hormonal levels that the symptoms are the most pronounced. The severity of symptoms varies from woman to woman, but nearly 80 percent will experience them to some degree.