Soon after I entered menopause, I felt as though I would do anything to get my libido back. I didn’t know what was wrong with me at first, and it began to strain my marriage.
If you are also losing desire for your husband and just don’t feel like yourself anymore, it may be time to find remedies that get your libido back during menopause. A decline in the sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone is responsible, so remedies mainly benefit hormonal balance.
There are fortunately many natural ways to partially restore levels of your sex hormones. Here, we will look at why libido falls during menopause and how to address its underlying cause.
Why Do I Have A Low Sexual Desire During Menopause?
I no longer have to worry about unwanted pregnancy or contraception side effects – this should be the time of my life, right? Why is a low sexual desire during menopause so common that all my friends warned me about it?
Plummeting levels of your sex hormones is behind the low sexual desire during menopause. Not only do they maintain libido, but also vaginal lubrication and tissue integrity in the area. Read:
- Signs of premature and early menopause
- How can I balance my hormones naturally during menopause?
- How do I Know if I Suffer from Hormone Imbalance?
As your ovaries run out of eggs, they also stop producing oestrogen and progesterone. The female sex hormones play many roles, including supporting libido and vaginal tissue integrity. This is why you may have noticed dryness appearing, and unfortunately getting worse as the months since your last period pass.
Many women also notice painful intercourse and even incontinence because of weaker vaginal and pelvic floor tissue. Even if you have some libido, you may not want to act on it.
Women also need a small amount of testosterone for increasing libido and muscle growth. This hormone unfortunately falls too during menopause, because the ovaries are responsible for its production.
Unfortunately, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) usually leaves out testosterone, so many women who take it still suffer a loss of libido.
Does Libido Return After Menopause?
Unfortunately, you will not see a return of your libido after menopause without treatment. This is because your sex hormones, oestrogen and testosterone, remain low and do not rebound.
When the ovaries stop functioning because of dried up egg reserves, production of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone falls dramatically and leads to sexual dysfunction.
What Are The Side Effects Of Low Libido?
If you’re feeling like your whole life is affected by low libido, you’re not alone. Even this one symptom of menopause can have significant side effects on your everyday life.
The “side effects” of low libido centre around its consequences on our relationships, as sexuality is a major part of marriage and dating. It’s sadly easy to see this as a personal failing instead of a health issue.
Sometimes, having little to no sex drive can feel like a personal problem, leading to shame and guilt even though the cause is biological. Mismatched levels of sex drive may cause conflict, as one partner could start pressuring the other for more or less intimacy.
These factors may sadly worsen the depression, anxiety and sleep troubles seen in menopause, and damage our confidence in our communication with others. Read:
- How can you sleep better during menopause
- Why is anxiety worse during menopause?
- Valerian Root: My Best Natural Supplement for Anxiety
While you are finding the hormonal remedies that work for you, improving communication can go a long way in restoring a healthy sex life. Exploring your needs, talking about what you like and dislike, and letting your partner do the same, are all essential for intimate relationships. These are important whether you have been married for over 20 years or are just beginning to date someone.
You are not alone if you feel that your relationships and personal confidence are strained by a loss of libido during menopause, as these issues are common.
How Can I Increase My Libido During Menopause Naturally?
If you prefer natural remedies with gentler effects rather than HRT, there are some herbal medicines and foods that may help increase your libido during menopause naturally.
Some have more specific indications, such as loss of libido from fatigue, increasing your chances of finding the best solution.
The remedies that may help increase your libido during menopause naturally work by increasing oestrogen, or behaving like the hormone by stimulating your receptors. Some help to boost energy levels too, and others can relieve PMS if you are still in perimenopause, including:
- Ashwagandha for improved energy
- Red clover, which can increase oestrogen levels
- Chasteberry, a PMS remedy that may be helpful if you are in perimenopause
- Soy foods, another gentle restorative of oestrogen
Ashwagandha for improved energy
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a much-loved herbal medicine for improving energy in people of all ages. We recommend it if you are struggling with fatigue during menopause, as this affects everything in your life, including your relationships.
But what about menopause?
A 2021 study on 91 menopausal women found that 300mg of ashwagandha, twice daily, significantly improved mental health -related symptoms, energy and sexual dysfunction.
Although the herb didn’t boost testosterone, it significantly increased oestrogen and lowered FSH. FSH is the hormone responsible for hot flashes, and it spikes in menopause in an attempt to stimulate the ovaries.
Ashwagandha has also been specifically tested for sexual dysfunction. Another clinical trial of ashwagandha in 50 women, found significantly improved libido, orgasm and satisfaction, along with reduced vaginal dryness, after eight weeks of supplementation.
There was found to be intimacy more often, with the average “successful sexual encounters” rising from less than two up to four times.
To learn more about how ashwagandha can help you during menopause, visit:
Red clover to restore oestrogen
Red clover has been popular for many years as a source of phytoestrogens. These are chemicals from plants which interact with our hormonal receptors, but do not stimulate them to the same degree as oestrogens.
Research shows that red clover is effective, but may only be suitable for milder cases of menopausal symptoms. While red clover can reduce the frequency of hot flashes by half, HRT cuts them down by over 90%, but the herb is more effective in other measures such as night sweats.
This is because red clover can give you a small but significant boost in oestrogen, and increase its ability to function.
When it comes to your hormones, red clover can give you a small but significant boost in oestrogen and reduce the sex hormone binding globulin. This binds to oestrogen and testosterone so they cannot function.
Chasteberry if you still experience PMS
Chasteberry (Vitus agnus-castus) may increase oestrogen too, but it’s also a great remedy for PMS if you are in perimenopause. Women benefit from chasteberry if they have heavy or missing periods, as well as PMS, thanks to the herb’s ability to lower prolactin. Although prolactin is essential for breastfeeding, excessive levels at other times can cause menstrual problems.
So how does chasteberry work?
Research showing that it is effective for severe depression before your period shows that the herb increases dopamine.
A loss of dopamine during menopause also contributes to poor motivation, focus and memory, so you may notice many other benefits. Low motivation and depression are contributors to crashing libido too.
As for hormonal effects, chasteberry may have a mild effect on oestrogen. The naturally occurring chemical known as apigenin (found in chamomile too) appears to be behind this benefit.
Shatavari for loss of libido during perimenopause
Shatavari is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for a wide range of female reproductive issues. Its name even translates as “woman with 100 husbands”, as tradition and modern research suggests antiaging, energy-boosting and hormone-balancing properties.
Shatavari contains phytoestrogens that are somewhat similar to those found in soy. Another way that it may help out is through its powerful antioxidant effect, which is most relevant if you are perimenopausal.
These antioxidant properties protect all of your tissues against age-related degeneration, and slow down the loss of egg cells in your ovaries.
Soy foods as natural hormone replacement
Soy foods contain phytoestrogens too, so we recommend you consider them as a regular part of your diet once you reach menopause. However, not every soy food is healthy. It is best to prioritise organic, fermented foods.
The best soy foods are:
- Tempeh, a vegetarian source of protein
- Miso, a tasty soup or broth ingredient
- Natto, a strong-smelling food that is also rich in vitamin K
Studies show that soy isoflavones, the substances responsible for its oestrogenic effect, can improve all aspects of sexual function. These include vaginal dryness and are accompanied by improved pH, which reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.
Soy foods may even improve muscle mass and bone density, two aspects of our health that are also threatened by menopause. Some trials show a 50% increase in muscle strength, while others find varying increases in bone density and muscle size. These benefits are thanks to soy phytoestrogens’ effects on certain oestrogen receptors.
If you are interested in learning about other ways to prevent muscle loss, read:
There are a number of potential ways to restore libido and relieve other symptoms of menopause by increasing oestrogen. These remedies include ashwagandha, red clover, chasteberry, shatavari and soy foods.
How Do You Revive Testosterone Production For A Stronger Libido?
Beyond partially restoring oestrogen levels, it is important to revive testosterone production for a stronger libido too. This is because testosterone has a more powerful effect on your sex drive, as well as supporting the growth and maintenance of your muscle mass.
If testosterone replacement therapy is too strong or not necessary for you, there are several natural remedies available. To revive testosterone production for a stronger libido, choose:
- Fenugreek, a herbal medicine for women’s and men’s health
- Red ginseng, an energy-boosting Korean remedy
- Tribulus, a potentially anti-aging herb.
Fenugreek for women’s health
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is perhaps the most well-researched herbal remedy for reviving testosterone production. A clinical trial on 80 women found that the herb significantly raised both oestrogen and testosterone after eight weeks, with a stronger effect on oestrogen.
The women taking fenugreek also had sex more often. They started out from an average of just under 0.6 times each week, and by the end of the study period they were having sex just over once per week.
While oestrogen improves vaginal lubrication, blood flow and ability to orgasm, testosterone adds more power to your libido. Read:
Red ginseng for energy
Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a popular herbal remedy to stimulate the immune system and increase energy levels.
It may also increase testosterone levels, at least in cases of metabolic syndrome. A study on 62 overweight men with the condition found that four weeks of supplementation boosted testosterone by over 5%, while the control group saw a continued fall in testosterone production.
As for energy levels, the same study found a significant rise in mitochondria numbers. These are the parts of our cells that produce energy; with low numbers, you wouldn’t be in the mood for intimacy at the end of a long day.
For more on metabolic health and menopause, see:
- Metabolism Changes During Menopause Can Make You Gain Weight
- The Best Ways to Lose Weight Naturally during Menopause
- The Best Natural Appetite Suppressant Teas
- How to get rid of menopause belly naturally
Tribulus for youthful sexual desire
Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) is a herbal medicine that many seek out for its antiaging properties. This is because it increases DHEA, the “mother” of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. We produce DHEA in the adrenal glands, so it is not dependent on ovarian function.
A clinical trial testing sexual function demonstrates that these hormonal benefits have real-life effects. Desire and arousal, pain, lubrication, orgasm and general satisfaction all all improved.
Fenugreek, red ginseng and tribulus may all revive testosterone production, with red ginseng also boosting energy and tribulus working through the precursor to all sex hormones.
When Should I Consider HRT?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is an effective way to relieve many symptoms of menopause, including low libido. As HRT can be quite powerful, it is best left for when natural remedies don’t give you the results you were looking for.
You should consider HRT if your symptoms cannot be relieved by natural medicines alone. This is particularly important if you have depression or were diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Sometimes, low libido turns out to be a symptom of depression. Other symptoms of depression include an inability to feel pleasure during anything we usually enjoy; a low mood, especially if you feel there is no hope at all for your life to improve; and poor motivation to the point that even getting out of bed is a struggle.
Untreated depression therefore has serious effects on overall health and quality of life, so HRT may be important if you developed the condition during menopause.
Other reasons to consider HRT include osteoporosis, the protection of lung health, and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Osteoporosis becomes more dangerous as we get older, women often lose lung capacity with a fall in oestrogen (which is especially risky if you have a lung condition such as asthma), and cardiovascular health can worsen without oestrogen’s protective effects.
What form of HRT should I choose? It is best to choose personalised, bio-identical HRT over animal-based standardised preparations. Your doctor should use a blood test to determine the best amounts of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone for you, which would be then made by a compounding pharmacist.
To read more about the emotional effects of menopause, see:
Does HRT Shorten Your Life?
No, the rumour that HRT is unsafe and can shorten your life expectancy is unfounded. The truth is that taking HRT reduces your risk of all-cause death during any given year by 31%. This is mostly from a lower risk of heart disease, uterine cancer, colon cancer and osteoporosis.
HRT has its place in more severe cases of menopausal symptoms, especially depression or a heightened risk of physical illness such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
There are many herbal medicines that may help you get your libido back during menopause.
To boost oestrogen, ashwagandha, red clover, chasteberry, shatavari and soy foods may be useful. Fenugreek, red ginseng and tribulus are options to increase testosterone.
Some have added benefits of their own, such as the ability of ashwagandha and red ginseng to support energy levels. The right remedies for you depend on your own needs, including your specific menopausal symptom profile and how long it has been since your last period.