Women experience a distinct hormonal shift when they go through menopause, and it can affect their desire for sex on many levels. At menopause, the ovaries stop functioning and, as a result, levels of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone decline. Low estrogen levels may cause vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse. Low testosterone levels may be associated with changes in sexual desire. And although genital sensation seems to decline with aging and menopause, it is unclear to what extent the change in sensation may be related to sexual function or orgasm ability.
Emotional changes around the time of menopause can affect sexual desire, too. Some women experience an increase in sexual desire or interest after they have reached menopause because they no longer worry about contraception and pregnancy. Other women may feel that they are no longer viewed by others as sexual, since our society tends to place different values on young women’s sexuality. Menopausal women also may experience insomnia, irritability, depression, and hot flashes from declining hormone levels, all of which may affect a woman’s interest in sex.