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Why sexual dysfunction hits some women harder than others as they age?  

By Longjam Dineshwori

Menopause transition is often accompanied by changes that affect a woman’s libido, sexual satisfaction, and overall sexual behaviour. But some women experience greater sexual dysfunction than others as they age.

A new study published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), has identified the factors that affect a woman’s risk of sexual dysfunction.

The study that included more than 200 women aged 45 to 55 years found that women with secondary and higher education and a greater number of lifetime sexual partners were less likely to experience sexual dysfunction. On the contrary, women with more anxious behaviours during sexual activity and those with more severe menopause symptoms were at greater risk for sexual dysfunction, it said.

Hormone therapy is considered the most effective treatment option to manage menopause symptoms. But it didn’t help mitigate the risk for sexual dysfunction, nor did it play a major role in determining sexual behaviours, according to the new study.

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However, women using hormone therapy typically had higher body-esteem during sexual activities; better sexual function in all domains, except for desire/interest; better quality of relationships; and fewer sexual complaints (other than arousal problems) than those women who do not.

These results are consistent with the findings of prior studies, said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

It also emphasizes that other than use of hormone therapy, factors such as higher importance of sex, positive attitudes toward sex, satisfaction with one’s partner, and fewer genitourinary symptoms associated with menopause are associated with better sexual function across the menopause transition, he added.

How Menopause Affect Sex Drive?

For many women, a decline in sexual desire is one more irritating symptoms of menopause. Here are some reasons that can lead to less interest in sex in menopausal and postmenopausal women.

The decreased production of hormones that are responsible for fertility and pregnancy, including estrogen, can cause vaginal dryness, thinning and tightening. This can make sexual intercourse painful and thus you may lose interest in sex.

Menopausal and postmenopausal women may also have difficulty becoming or staying aroused, and they may be less sensitive to touching and stroking. That can also lead to decline in sexual desire.

Fluctuating hormones can also cause psychological effects – including sadness, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, depression, stress and a lack of concentration and motivation – which can dampen sexual desire as well.

The inability to enjoy sex can in turn affect self-esteem and intimacy.

Tips to reduce sexual complications after menopause

Experts say staying sexually active can help the vagina remain healthy and reduce sexual complications during menopause. Plus, regular sexual stimulation promotes blood flow to the vagina and helps retain its elasticity, depth, and overall shape. Other tips to reduce sexual complications include:

  • Use a vaginal moisturizer before intercourse
  • Increase foreplay or activities that promote sexual arousal
  • Try different sexual activities
  • Exercise or try relaxation activities to manage stress
  • Engage in couple bonding or strengthening activities

Discuss sexual problems with your doctor. Sexual counselling, even when it’s done on a short-term basis, can be very helpful.

With inputs from ANI

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