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High Libido in Women During Perimenopause

Alex Fulton

Written by Alex Fulton

Alex Fulton

Written by Alex Fulton

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Perimenopause, or the time leading up to menopause, is a transitional period for many women. Hormones begin to fluctuate, which commonly causes the onset of symptoms such as hot flashesmood swings and menstrual irregularities.

Another symptom that’s common — but not as commonly discussed — is a change in sexual desire or your perimenopause sex drive – specifically a sudden increase in libido. While some women struggle with a decline in their sex drive during perimenopause and menopause, others may actually notice increased libido after menopause or during. Understanding perimenopause increased libido, as well as what is going on to cause this shift, may help you embrace your growing appetite for sexual intimacy.

Hear more from Bonafide Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alyssa Dweck on why increased sex drive may occur during perimenopause and what you can do about it, below: 

Perimenopause and Increased Libido

While many perimenopause symptoms are associated with fluctuating hormones, that’s not necessarily the case with changes in sexual desire and drive, according to OBGYN, Dr. Suzanne Hall. “Most of the libido is surprisingly not directly related to our hormonal state,” Dr. Hall says. “As we enter into perimenopause and menopause, what affects our libido the most dramatically are psychosocial factors.”1

Shifting attitudes around self-esteem and relationships, potentially less work- and parenting-related stress, and more time to pursue what makes them happy are just a few of the factors that may give women the freedom to appreciate intimacy in new ways, Dr. Hall explains.

Changes that can have a psychosocial impact on a woman’s life — and a woman’s sex drive after 50 may include:

Fewer Caretaking Responsibilities May Contribute to Increased Perimenopause Sex Drive

The age at which many women approach perimenopause may coincide with a time when their children are getting older, and therefore require less care. “As our kids get older, our level of fatigue and stress from child-rearing and family-raising may begin to lessen,” Dr. Hall says. “This allows for more time to address partnerships, intimate relationships and sexual time.”

This rekindling of intimacy between partners may reach its peak after kids leave “the nest” for college or other adventures; research even shows marital satisfaction improves when children move away from home.2 If a woman happens to be in perimenopause or menopause as her nest empties, she may notice a sudden increase in her libido or sexual desire.

An increased libido in women doesn’t just happen for those who are married during perimenopause, either. According to Dr. Hall, women starting new relationships, perhaps due to divorce or loss of a partner, can also experience a surge in their sex drive in perimenopause. “Research showsimproved sexual functioning and increased libido in perimenopause due to new relationships,” she says.

Improved Self Esteem Can Influence Increased Libido in Perimenopause

“Body image is a big factor in how our libido functions,” says Dr. Hall. When we feel good about ourselves, we may feel more comfortable in the bedroom — and many women find themselves feeling more confident about their bodies as they age.

A massive 2018 analysis of 191 research articles about self-esteem that included data from almost 165,000 people found self-esteem increases gradually throughout middle age before peaking at age 60.4 A more recent study published in the journal Body Image, confirmed this research for women in particular, finding that their self-esteem increased with age and was highest at 60 years old.5

For women who are in perimenopause or menopause, Dr. Hall explains, newfound body confidence could lead to fewer inhibitions (and greater desire) when it comes to sex.

Less Stress at Work May Contribute to Increased Perimenopause Sex Drive

Just as fewer family responsibilities may allow a perimenopausal woman to strengthen intimate connections, so might less stress at work. While it’s certainly not true for everyone, Dr. Hall suggests that perimenopause may happen during the time in a woman’s life when her career is peaking. A stable, not-overly-taxing position at work may allow more time and energy (both physical and mental) to devote to intimacy.

This suggestion makes sense given the toll work stress can take on sexual desire. A 2019 study found 51% of respondents reported they weren’t having sex with their partners because their jobs caused them so much stress.6

Is High Libido in Women During Perimenopause Ever a Problem?

There’s no such thing as “normal” when it comes to sex drive or sexual desire, meaning an increased libido during perimenopause is only a problem if it’s a problem for you (or your partner). Although she doesn’t encounter many patients who complain about an increased libido, Dr. Hall says that if high perimenopause sex drive is affecting your quality of life — if it’s causing problems in your relationship, or if you’re putting yourself in unsafe situations — you should talk to your healthcare provider who may be able to refer you to a sex therapist who specializes in this area.7

It’s also important to remember that you can still get pregnant during perimenopause, so be sure to continue using contraception until you’ve gone through menopause (12 months without a period).8

Resources:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21143419/
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02222.x
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/slightly-blighty/201508/why-new-partner-boosts-your-sex-life
  4. https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2018-33338-001.html
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1740144521000966
  6. https://globalnews.ca/news/6563889/stress-libido-sex-drive/#:~:text=Stress%20can%20increase%20the%20production,bedrooms%E2%80%9D%20because%20of%20work%20stress
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-libido#possible-causes
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23932427/

      Comments

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      I just turned forty and am experiencing this after a lifetime of a libido so low that I was starting to think I was asexual. It was so exciting at first, but now I just read some stuff online of women experiencing this for a year or so right before being diagnosed with estrogen-driven cancers like breast at a young age, and I am panicking and absolutely spiraling as I already have health anxiety. Reading these comments has been reassuring. Just wondering if anyone else has heard of the connection, I googled and it didn’t bring anything up…

      Madonna83 on

      Whew! First article I have found that addresses this. Thank you for your comments. I’m very relieved. I have been experiencing increased libido and thought something was wrong with me. I actually thought it was related to the vitamin Bs that I’ve been taking so I stopped taking them. I did notice a drop for about a month then bam it’s back again with full force. Sigh. Unfortunately I’m in a bad marriage and we have not been intimate for many years so this is not something I’m happy about. I am glad to know that I’m not weird but I wish it were the opposite as I’m practically single.

      Liana on

      Oh my goodness, I am SO happy to read all of these comments. I went into menopause at 50, with NO drive d/t other issues with chronic pain, but all of a sudden at 52, it’s like others have said- a switch flipped on last week and it’s so darn distracting, interferes with sleep and everything! Now I only wish I had a partner to share it with, as, like others have said, having that desire back also makes me ‘feel like a woman’ again. Cheers all:-)

      Pilatesgirl on

      Glad I found this article. I was wondering about this. For a few weeks I felt like my old self during what felt like a surge for a few weeks and now it’s been almost 2 weeks of the complete opposite. I want it back.

      Maria on

      I am so glad I found this article and this space to comment!

      When I was 51 or so, I started having Strong and often desire for sex, so I asked my Dr. to check my testosterone levels. My testosterone was normal. She told me about the Sex Surge some perimenopausal women experience.

      I am divorced and single, and paralyzed from the waist down which makes self gratification challenging.

      In the early days, the surge drove me crazy, it was so strong! Can you imagine talking to your mother or brother while you’re fantasizing about having sex. And the fantasies!🤯

      I’m 54 now, and the Surge is just a trickle. Hopefully once I get a new lover, I will have a bit of that drive to share with him.

      I wonder why there isn’t much written about this phenomenon? Why so hush-hush?

      The story I’ve always heard is that menopausal women have No libido. They just Dry up along with the estrogen. IJS.

      Thanks for reading and witnessing my story. ✊🏽 to us all! And good sex!

      Kim on

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