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The Psychosexual Effects of Menopause

Female’s transition through three definitive periods in their life: the pre-reproductive period of prepubescence, the reproductive age, and finally the end of fertility. Whereas the transition from child to woman is characterized by puberty, the end of fertility in midlife is ushered in by. Menopause signifies the permanent cessation of menstruation or reproductive fertility that brings about profound physical, emotional, and social changes to females. Unlike in past centuries or even today in countries with lower life expectancies such as Afghanistan where women live up to only 44 years on average, women of today may spend more than half their lives living the post-menopausal life. As a result, psychologists are increasingly conducting research that investigates the post-menopausal lifestyles of women. In particular, because menopause is rooted in the sexual function of women, psychosexual psychiatrists have paid attention to the psychosexual effects that menopause has.

Although menopause signals the end of menses, it is actually quite a gradual process that occurs over the course of a few years. Perimenopause is highlighted by decreased levels of circulating estrogen and has many symptoms associated with it, such as hot flashes, migraine headaches, and psychosomatic symptoms such as irritability and forgetfulness. Because menopause is caused by the natural cessation of hormone production by the ovaries, scientists analyze ovarian hormones ñ in particular, estrogens, androgens, and progesterone ñ and how the alteration in their bodily production influences the psychological and sexual makeup of post-menopausal women. As it regards female sexuality, menopause impacts psychologically as much as it does physiologically.

Psychosexual Effects of Menopause.

Psychosexual Effects of Menopause.

Among the biggest misconception concerning post-menopausal women is that they lose their libido, whereas men never lose their lust and capacity to sexually perform. That is absolutely incorrect as post-menopausal women can remain quite sexual. However, because females do undergo more dramatic biological changes than their male counterparts, menopause is more likely to challenge previous sexual functioning and have psychosexual effects, including the reduction in their sexual drive. The most common psychosexual effect menopause has in females includes the increase of psychosexual dysfunctions, such as orgasmic disorder, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or even sexual pain disorders. Sexual arousal becomes more challenging with the fatigue and irritations that accompany menopause. Libido is hurt by the difficulty of maintaining vaginal lubrication, vaginal atrophy, and decreasing pelvic blood flow that are all caused by the lack of secretion of the reproductive hormone estrogen in postmenopausal women.

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Furthermore, when the National Health and Social Life Survey sought to design a more representative survey of sexual behavior in the United States in the 1980s, it found that female orgasmic disorder is the second most common sexual disorder in adults. In postmenopausal women, achieving orgasm becomes even more problematic. Physical pain during penetration, such as disorders as dyspareunia or vaginismus, is partly the result of lack of vaginal lubrication. But they are also commonly attributed to psychological factors. These physical pains and the failure to achieve orgasm create a demoralizing positive feedback cycle that reinforces hypoactive sexual desire in postmenopausal females.

The deficiency in sexual thoughts, behaviors, or desire may be acquired in pre-menopausal stages, but a consistent trend among women shows that their libidos drop drastically following menopause. Endocrine changes play a key role. However, like with other menopausal symptoms that influence sexuality, the causes for this deficiency can be rooted in the psychological, rather than the physiological. Personal distress, for example, when coming to terms with the fleeing of their youth is natural, common, and understandable. Other sources for sexual deficiency may include other potential by-products of menopause, such as depression, stress, or fatigue. However, an important contributor is society expectations itself. The reason why this article had to earlier explicitly reject the popular myth that “Post-menopausal women lose their libido whereas men never lose their lust and capacity to sexually perform” was because society accepts it as a truth. If society does so, then so do the women that internalize the myth. Society’s expectations of the role of post-menopausal women shifts from the one assigned to pre-menopausal one: being in touch with your sexuality is unexpected in post-menopausal women because their uterus no longer requires it. Societal pressures are interpreted by the mind of elder women and, as such, the motivation to be sexual diminishes natural sexual drive.

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[ad#downcont]A common treatment to push back to the symptoms of naturally or surgically menopausal women that instigate their sexual downfall is hormone replacement therapy. Increased estrogen plus androgens provides improvement in sexual symptoms, such as increased libido and achievement of orgasm. However, its limitations need to be understood. Sexuality is unquestionably limited by biological factors, but in equal part psychological ones too. The psychosexual effect menopause has is underestimated by many. To revive post-menopausal womenís libido from its self-dug grave requires an understanding of the limitations due to bodily changes, and the self-restraints imposed by the mind.

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