Women in their 30s and 40s experience times during the month when they feel a boost in libido and overall "sexiness." These feelings can be experienced as a sudden glow of the skin, a boost in self confidence, and more intense and fulfilling sex with their partners.
This monthly boost in sex drive is due to an increase in the secretion of the hormone progesterone during and shortly after ovulation. Hormones play a key role in sexual desire, sexual pleasure and our general feeling of "sexiness." I encourage my patients to try to determine when these feelings of enhanced sexiness and sexual desire occur during the month. The goal is for women to be aware of their bodies so they can anticipate, and even plan around, these times – getting a babysitter, scheduling early afternoon as opposed to evening meetings, and committing to a "date night."
The key is to optimize intimacy and sex during our busy days and lives. Sex is the glue of our relationships, in good times and bad times. When intimacy and sex break down, the relationship can go into crisis. There is nothing wrong with planning sex. In fact, I encourage it.
Lifestyle factors, such as stress at work, unhealthy eating habits, poor sleeping habits, and the distractions of child-rearing, can be big time libido killers. Stress is probably the biggest culprit for hormone imbalance and is something everyone needs to focus on reducing.
I recommend a daily twenty-minute meditation to my patients to help to alleviate stress and enhance wellbeing. GABA levels and Serotonin levels in the brain rise during meditation, which helps us to feel calm and refreshed. These hormones also enhance mood and libido. It’s definitely hard to feel motivated to have sex or feel "sexy" when we are experiencing stress.
As women reach their late 40s and early 50s, technically referred to as the perimenopause (the time before or around menopause), hormone levels begin to fluctuate and even wane. Subtle changes in hormone levels can lead to a decrease in sexual desire and also can affect mood, sleep, energy levels, and our metabolism.
The good news? There are ways that women can keep the spice in their relationship even during times when hormones are no longer at their optimum. The first thing I recommend is to acknowledge and recognize if there are changes in sexual energy and desire and if so, speak to your health care provider about it. A healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep, and nutritional supplements including omega 3 fatty acids, B complex vitamins, and DHEA (an adrenal gland support supplement) are easy and effective ways to naturally optimize hormone balance.
I also encourage my patients to make time for themselves on a daily basis doing something they enjoy. Consider reading, walking the dog, running, or pampering yourself by buying that new perfume, shimmying into that little red dress, or spending the day at a spa. Not only do these practices spice up relationships, they are also an added bonus to your overall wellbeing and self-esteem. Perimenopause and menopause are times for women to rediscover their sensuality. Intimacy in relationships is not meant to disappear just because our hormones decline.