When it comes to menopause symptoms, decreased libido (low sex drive) can be one of the most frustrating, but it’s by no means a lost cause! With the right knowledge and resources, you can enjoy a rich, fulfilling sex life through perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. We asked gynecologist and menopause expert, Dr. Heather Hirsch, to share her top three tips to naturally boost your libido.
The Challenge: It Hurts to Insert
If it hurts to engage in sexual activity, it only makes sense that your sex drive might be lower than it used to be. Painful insertion is one of the most common types of sexual pain (aka dyspareunia), and can be a major contributing factor to decreased libido during menopause. So… why does it hurt? According to Dr. Hirsch, “As we’re losing estrogen, the epithelial lining of the vagina, vulva and the clitoris are becoming atrophic - pale, thin and dry.”
When the skin around the vaginal opening becomes thin and dry, it becomes more susceptible to microtears and cracking, so getting anything past that threshold and into the vagina - whether it’s a finger, a toy, or a penis - can cause discomfort and pain.
The Solution: Hydrate Ever After
An intimate moisturizer can help strengthen the skin barrier around the vaginal opening over time, leading to less irritation and more pleasure. “Just like we put moisturizers on our face every single day [...] your vulva needs the same,” says Dr. Hirsch. Her favorite over-the-counter solution? Hydrate Ever After.
Here’s how Dr. Hirsch recommends using Hydrate Ever After: “Every day after showering, put a little bit on your fingers and apply to the vulva, the labia, and even inside the vaginal opening.”
If you experience itching, burning, or stinging during or after sex, Dr. Hirsch recommends Rescue Balm. “It’s such a great compliment to the Hydrate Ever After. Put it on and let the Colloidal Oatmeal, Sweet Almond Oil, and Zinc Oxide work its magic.”
The Challenge: You’re Just Not Interested
Remember, says Dr. Hirsch, “decreased libido in and of itself isn’t something you have to fix.” But if having a low sex drive is causing you distress, you may want to look for solutions that can help reduce or alleviate that stress.
Solution #1: Try Audio Erotica
“Audio erotica reminds your brain that sex is fun and exciting! Just like we lose our muscles if we don’t use them at the gym, if we don’t use those synapses in our brain that remind us sex is pleasurable, we can lose them too,” says Dr. Hirsch. And if the word “erotica” makes you a bit nervous, don’t worry! There are a number of discreet, sophisticated apps that offer spicy audio stories on demand without having to watch anything. Meet Rosy, Dipsea, and Quinn are a few to check out if you’re interested.
Solution #2: Exercise
Exercise, like reading erotica, can help increase dopamine in our brain. Dopamine is the happy hormone that rewards us for doing things our body likes - including exercise and (you guessed it) sex! Exercise also helps increase testosterone, which can help trigger libido. “The best exercise you can do to boost libido is lifting weights, which is something I recommend to all postmenopausal women,” says Dr. Hirsch. Bonus points if you exercise with your partner! This can help foster intimacy and lead to a more pleasurable sex life.
For more tips and tricks for thriving during menopause, follow Dr. Hirsch on Instagram, YouTube, listen to her podcast, Health by Heather Hirsch, or sign up for her Menopause Master Class here.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Heather Hirsch, MD, in November 2022.