Three quarters of Women over 50 Lose interest in SEX say researchers, but could there be a way to Re-light the Fire

Temperatures are plunging – and things are equally frosty in the bedroom. 

Three-quarters of women lose interest in sex after reaching the age of 50, according to research revealed last week.

Half of them refuse to talk to their partner, let alone a medical expert, about it. And just two per cent have sought treatment for a less-active sex drive.

The study, commissioned by intimate skincare brand Replens, made depressing reading. But the overwhelming verdict from the medical community was that couples should not be suffering in silence.

On Friday, Doctors were urged to prescribe testosterone drugs to women with flagging sex drives, claiming the therapy had them ‘going from feeling drained to running marathons’.

Dr Arun Ghosh, a private Doctor in Liverpool with a special interest in sexual health, said: ‘There are so many treatments out there that can help with low libido or discomfort.

‘It’s so important women don’t stay quiet about this – not only for the sake of their relationship, but for their own health.’

Painful sex can be a sign of a more serious medical problem, he added. ‘Getting checked out for low libido is as important as having your blood pressure or cholesterol checked. With a little bit of help, there’s no reason you can’t have the best sex of your life in your 50s.’

We spoke to Britain’s leading women’s health experts to find out exactly how to make that a reality…

Dr Heather Curry

She says: Reduced libido in women over 50 is very often due to physical changes that occur and it is a tragedy that, despite being easy to treat, so few women seek help due to embarrassment.

Research has shown that while nearly all menopausal women believe an active sex life is important, more than half have experienced discomfort.

Oestrogen levels fall after the menopause, causing the body’s tissues to become thinner, drier and less elastic or flexible. This will not improve without treatment. One option is oestrogen cream or gel – a form of HRT that doesn’t carry the risks of pills or patches – which can be prescribed by your  Doctor.

Good non-HRT options (which can be used alongside HRT) include specialised medical moisturisers that come in a pessary form. There are also options that do a similar thing and can be picked up in chemist

Dr Sarah Berry:

She says: Women often wrongly believe a low or non-existent sex drive is their problem. But there are two people in a relationship and dealing with it as a team is crucial.

Rather than trying to go from 0 to 60, take small steps. Take sex out of the equation and focus on building intimacy again. There’s also no one-size-fits-all solution. For some couples, kissing, holding hands, having a bath together or date nights will help them enjoy each other’s company as they did at the start of the relationship. For others, it might be taking up a new hobby or cooking together.

When I meet new clients, I tell them, often to their surprise, NOT to try to have sex straight away. This allows space to talk about what they want from their sex life. It also helps build up desire again

Dr John Studd

He says: I always say libido is a mix of head, heart and hormones. If a woman hates her husband then, as gynaecologist, there’s little I can do to help. But I can sort hormones – and the results are life-changing. Adjusting a woman’s levels of oestrogen and testosterone should be the first-line treatment if they are suffering from poor libido.

It nearly always works, usually within ten days, and costs about £2 a week on private prescription.

Contrary to popular belief, testosterone is a normal, essential female hormone responsible for energy, mood and libido, which is why depression and loss of libido often go hand in hand. I prescribe female patients oestrogen gel along with testosterone gel.

It’s the same gel that men are given but just an eighth of the dose. It’s safe, has no side effects and will boost mood and energy levels along with libido.

If combined with oestrogen, potential side effects of testosterone replacement – such as acne and excess hair growth – will be avoided.

Because testosterone gel isn’t licensed for women, some Doctorsare reluctant to prescribe it, but it’s worth nagging them. If not, a specialist doctor can help.

Prof Marilyn Glenvile

She says: When it comes to low libido in your 50s, don’t simply write it off as an effect of age, or the menopause. It could be caused by an underlying problem that your GP could diagnose.

It’s also worth checking you’re not deficient in magnesium or iron, both of which have a dramatic effect on energy levels.

There are also many simple steps you can take to improve your diet – and, in turn, your sex drive.

First, don’t skip meals because you’re busy, or eat junk food on the run, causing blood sugar problems, mood swings and a lack of energy.

Eat foods that help to balance your hormones. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring substances found in legumes such as soya, lentils and chickpeas and also in some seeds like flaxseeds (linseeds).

Avoid low-fat diets. Essential fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, oily fish and eggs) help to ‘lubricate’ the body in general, keeping your skin and hair soft.

Reclaim sexuality…on your own terms

Mariella Frostrup

She says: I was brought up in Catholic Ireland in the 1970s, and let’s just say that it wasn’t conducive to sexual expression. It used to be taboo for a woman to say what she wanted to happen during sex. But it is not like that any more. Saying that, as we get older, our lives get busier and the list of things to do every day gets longer.

One of the things that slips down at the bottom of the list is sex and it can easily become just one of the things that become more of a pressure than a pleasure.

Having just edited a book of 100 erotic stories, I’d highly recommend reading some. Getting lost in a sexually exciting world can help us rediscover passion, and the chance to do so on our own terms.

Many mature women are having the best sex they’ve ever had. As we get older, we gain confidence, and sex is an opportunity to express ourselves in a way we would not have dared in our earlier years.

When you are younger you are governed by these undeniable physical urges and as you get older you need to be confident in how you are feeling about yourself before you have a physical relationship with someone else.

For a lot of women, it’s still about someone wanting you. Feeling desirable is the key to female sexuality.

But we need to be more confident. I think that reclaiming the power of your sexuality on your own terms is incredibly important as you get older.

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