Loss of interest in sex is not an inevitable part of ageing. It’s a very individual response and there are no standards, however, in midlife, you may find your libido is less predictable or intense than it used to be. Why?
According to gynaecologists as we age, this can be caused by a variety of factors such as hormonal changes, chronic disease, medication, and lifestyle behaviours.
Menopause, in particular, can cause women’s interest in sex to decline as testosterone levels decrease and hot flashes may interfere with sexual motivation. In fact, in her book ‘Managing Your Menopause Naturally‘, author Maryon Stewart cites studies showing that up to 75% of women feel their sex drive has decreased since menopause (sometimes because of vaginal dryness, too).
However, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research, adds another important factor which women over 50 know very well but it’s often overlooked: exhaustion.
The authors analyzed data from the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, which included 2133 female participants. In addition, the researchers layered in qualitative data gathered from interviews with some of the actual women from the study.
The results are quite interesting: in a world where women are forced to assume multiple roles (mother, wife, daughter, carer, career woman), it’s not shocking their desire for sex diminishes.
They are tired. Really tired.
Social changes relating to life stage and lifestyle in midlife, of course, may play a part. For some, work commitments increase at this time of life; for others, job insecurities arise.
The work-life juggle, financial pressures or looking after family, are the main culprits. Children living at home are often in the challenging stages of adolescence, and social and economic changes have increased the possibility that adult children remain for longer in the family home, adding the “full nest syndrome” to the more familiar “empty nest syndrome” in midlife.
What’s more, according to the study, “more middle-aged women than men are without a sexual partner, since patterns of age mixing in sexual relationships and differential longevity result in gender imbalance in the availability of sexual partners at this time in life“.
So, where are we going from there? Leading a healthy lifestyle can help you feel better and boost your confidence. Spending more time in self-care, learning to let it go and embracing your imperfection, can give you more energy to enjoy sexual activity.
However, communication is important, too. Be honest with your partner about how you’re feeling. Take some time to explain what you are going through and if necessary ask for support in your daily chores as well as time for you both, away from the daily routine.
In the end, being intimate doesn’t necessarily mean intercourse. Other acts of intimacy—such as massage, foreplay, or even holding hands and cuddling with your partner—can spark passion and bring you closer together.