Libido lows: UTIs and pain take a toll

Anna Mooney.

Painful sex and bladder problems can really affect women's libido during menopause. A new study from NAMS has insight as to why women have less sex as they get older.

As women age, sexual activity typically declines. But that doesn't necessarily mean they are no longer interested in sex. The problem for many is physical. A recent study from NAMS (North American Menopause Society) demonstrates the impact on sexual activity of postmenopausal women as a result of vulvovaginal atrophy and lower urinary tract problems and infections.

Menopause's double whammy

In recent years the medical community adopted the terminology "genitourinary syndrome of menopause" (GSM) to explain the double whammy of vaginal and bladder problems that many women experience during menopause.

Put simply, GSM includes symptoms of painful sex as a result of a thinning of the vaginal walls, along with bladder problems that can lead to urine leakage during sexual activity and at other unpredictable times.

As part of this study, researchers assessed the impact of these symptoms on a woman's ability to have sex and to enjoy the experience.

Pain is the passion killer

Here’s what 1,500 women told them: While both vulvovaginal atrophy and bladder problems really limited the enjoyment and frequency they had sex; the fear of experiencing pain during sex was considerably more off-putting than any fear of “leaking”.

Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director, pointed out the need for doctors to have “an open and honest discussion with peri- and postmenopausal women so that appropriate treatments options can be evaluated". 

At My Second Spring, we say: protect your sexual function as much as possible and start as early as possible – check out our Q&A blog by renowned sexologist Emily Power Smith for multiple ways you can maintain healthy libido. 

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