LIFESTYLE

Quarter Of Women Over 40 Say Sex Life Is Non-Existent Thanks To Menopause

21/05/2015 13:36 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 13:59 BST

Women over 40 are experiencing something of a crisis in the bedroom department.

According to a new study of 1,000 women, females who are entering the perimenopause - the period leading up to the menopause - have an increased risk of experiencing anxiety and a drop in mood and may also suffer from loss of libido.

Worryingly, many women claim that they no longer feel attractive (a third said this was due to weight gain), while nearly two thirds no longer feel the desire to have sex with their partners.

middle age couple no sex

Research from Healthspan suggests that this is because more and more 40-year-olds are experiencing the perimenopause, symptoms of which include hot flushes, insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, depression, sore joints and a weak bladder.

And nearly three quarters of women approached admitted that this impacts their relationships.

However, despite lack of sex drive being such an issue among women in their forties and fifties, there is still a major reluctance to seek help.

“I was surprised to see that nearly half of women didn’t even know what the perimenopause is and that three-fifths of women haven’t sought help from their doctor," said GP, Dr Sarah Brewer.

"What’s shocking is that so many women are suffering and battling through without help.”

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Mental health also plays a huge part in sex drive decline and, sadly, 61% of women surveyed suffer anxiety due to the symptoms of the perimenopause.

Additionally, self-confidence can have an impact. In fact, research showed that over half of women had lost their self-confidence.

One explanation for this, says psychologist Sally Brown, is that there's a "drop in oestrogen", which helps make serotonin, the feel-good chemical in the brain.

Clare Prendergast is a sex therapist for Relate. Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, she reveals that in her experience of helping couples, it's always been really important to ensure the woman actually sees the lack of sex as a problem.

"She might just not be in the mood for sex, and it's about validating whether it's okay to be like that. I'd only want to go in with interventions if it's a problem for her," she adds.

"I'd also want to make sure there's no medical reason for sexual decline. Particularly as medications surrounding depression, anxiety and even epilepsy can affect this."

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Once various factors have been ruled out, the sex therapist says she'd tell the couple to have a sex and masturbation ban - the length of which can vary depending on the couple.

"This helps as the pressure is taken off performance and having to orgasm," she says.

"Then I’d encourage the couple to spend one hour, three times a week, naked, exploring each other’s bodies taking it in turns to touch one another."

She likens this whole process to discovering a food intolerance: "When you go to see a specialist, they tell you to strip back different foods and then you gradually reintroduce them into your diet. It's the same in this instance."

Prendergast adds that the simple act of talking about it and acknowledging there's a problem can also precipitate the return of sex drive.

But, she notes, there are lots of different ways of addressing sexual therapy because "everybody is different".

[H/T Daily Mail]