Low sex drive is so common, especially after menopause, that it verges on normal: Up to 52% of postmenopausal women experience a lack of desire. The causes can be complex, but that means there are multiple ways to feel more hot and less bothered. (The easiest thing you can do for your health right now? Sign up to get healthy living tips delivered straight to your inbox with FREE Prevention newsletters!)
Talk it out: Connect with your partner.
Stress, relationship problems, and depression can quash your sex drive. Building intimacy outside the bedroom may fan the flames between the sheets. Talking specifically about sex—what you like, what you don’t—helps, too, as it can push you past habits that might have been established long ago. (Check out these 5 secrets of long-term couples who still have hot sex.)
Exercise: Fit for sex
Active women have more energy, better body image, and less stress—all of which can boost interest in sex. Though there’s very little research, one recent study found that women who watched an erotic video after exercising were significantly more turned on than those who viewed the film but didn’t work out. (Give one of these 10-minute walking workouts a try before one of your next bedroom adventures.)
Sex therapy: Counseling with a one-track mind
No, you don’t have sex with the therapist. Instead, a trained expert talks with you (and preferably your partner) about your sex life. Homework may entail working on communication, focusing on sensations, watching educational videos, and changing how you and your partner interact.
DHEA: A sexy supplement
Treating menopause symptoms with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a precursor to the body’s sex hormones, is controversial. But a recent research review concluded that it slightly improves sexual function in peri- and postmenopausal women. Though it’s available OTC, talk to a doctor before trying it: DHEA might mess with your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. (Find out how real women conquered the issues that come with menopause and sex.)
Medication: A first for younger women
Flibanserin (Addyi) was approved by the FDA in 2015 for female sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women, but you can’t drink while taking it (alcohol ups the risk of serious side effects). It’s available only through specially certified doctors and pharmacies. (Here’s everything you need to know about flibanserin.)
Mindfulness: Live for the moment.
Stress hormones like cortisol can kill desire, arousal, and—if you do manage to get your motor going—satisfaction. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and pump up passion. Key techniques include paying close attention to sensations such as breathing, sounds, and your body’s sexual responses. (And when it’s time for intimacy, never do these 6 things before sex.)
Lubrication: The physical affects the mental.
Discomfort down below can squelch amorous ideas. Choose spur-of-the-moment lubes designed for sex (Astroglide or this organic lubricant and personal moisturizer) and/or apply a specialized moisturizer like Replens nightly to help vaginal tissue stay pliable.
Hormone therapy: Straight to the source
If sexual dysfunction is related to hormonal changes, estrogen delivered via vaginal cream, suppository, or ring can improve lubrication and lessen pain by restoring the condition of vaginal tissue, without the worrisome side effects that accompany estrogen pills.
Mood meddlers: Many antidepressants have sexual side effects.
SSRIs like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) can kill your sex drive. Ask your doctor if lowering your dose or trying a different drug, like bupropion (Wellbutrin), is worth a shot.