Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Menopause. Hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disruption, fatigue and crankiness. It surely can make any woman feel less than sexy. But don’t believe that “Menopause took my libido away” line as the primary reason for a loss of sexual interest.

There are often other factors at work that can diminish your sex drive long before menopause—for starters, the quality of your partnership and your attitude toward sex.

Some women have never had much of a libido. They feigned sexual interest in order to date and mate and reproduce. With children came exhaustion and the nightly prayer, “Oh Lord, not tonight,” while their partners prayed for sex. This dance of unbalanced desire continued until these women found their big out: “Menopause took my libido away.”

On the other hand, there are women who were always interested in sex, but bored or sexually frustrated in their marriage. When they reach menopause, they’re more than happy to give up unsatisfying sex. Now, they can claim “Menopause took my libido away.”

Women who liked sex and were happily orgasmic can lose interest in sex if their relationship becomes dysfunctional, or an affair has eroded the trust in the marriage. These women actually look forward to saying “Menopause took my libido away.”

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are many women who keep their libido in great shape after they reach menopause. They like sex for the sake of sex. To them, initiating sex is both a right and a turn-on. Shared sexual power and a mutual interest in setting aside time for making love has kept their menopausal libido alive and well. Menopause did not “take their libido away.”

What can you do to take charge again and ensure a healthy libido well after menopause?

  • Plan for a fulfilled sex life well before you reach menopause. Don’t wait until a pattern of denial and poor behavior in your relationship make isolation in bed inevitable.
  • Talk to your partner about finding time for emotional and physical intimacy. Develop or continue a little public display of affection.
  • Discuss the issues of physical change that will come to both of you with age, like vaginal dryness, thinner genital tissue, and potential erectile dysfunction. Face it before it happens. Don’t let shame and embarrassment ruin your sex life later on.
  • Most importantly—and I can’t emphasize this enough: Avoid women who complain that all their husbands ever want is SEX. These women are toxic. Choose friends with happy couplings. Choose to spend time with women who like to laugh about sex and themselves, and still notice who is hot and who is not.

Sex doesn’t cost a thing. It improves longevity, quality of life, and overall health. Menopausal sex without the fear of pregnancy, the mess of the monthly cycle, or young children knocking at the bedroom door can be a spontaneous and joyful part of the second half of life.

Don’t let anyone tell you that “Menopause will take your libido away.”

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  • Cat December 9, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I had to chuckle because when I read Kim’s comment from 7/1/15 here, I basically read a description of myself. I, too, have a higher libido than ever and feel an intense drive to have sex every day, and if it doesn’t happen, I feel frustration. I, too, was browsing the Internet to try to find out if other women experience this instead of the commonly touted libido drop, and that’s how I came upon this blog. Thank you for putting that myth to rest, Dr. Pat!

    • Marie October 24, 2017 at 11:06 am

      Me too :)))

  • kim July 1, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I am sixty this year and post menopausal for nine years now. My libido is stronger than ever, in fact, I have the desire to have sex daily or I become physically bothered. My partner is fine with it but sometimes too tired and he is a bit younger than me. We laugh about it but still wonder sometimes. I have been researching online to make sure this is “normal” and found this blog.

  • Kathleen f. May 26, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Hello! I am a fifty-year old woman who has been post-menopausal for about ten years now. My libido is quite strong. I am post cancer treatment…..non-hodgkins lymphoma large diffuse b cell (I mention this only as a side note). I attribute my strong libido in large part to my lifestyle, which includes lots of chi gong, a daily diet that includes lots of water and fruit, weekly massage, and tons of personal time. I was recently married for one year, and that seemed to be the only time in my life in which my libido dropped. Freedom to live creatively and independently seems to be my personal path to strong libido. I don’t always act on my strong libido In order to remain healthy and free of stds as well as the emotional drain of committing to someone else. My lifestyle is what gives me my libido…. I know it’s a sticky subject, but for those of you with low libido, I hope you find your personal answers for healing. Love and light

  • Paul Hubbard July 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Well, this is a good piece, but I think she “protests too much.” My wife & I, who is 15 years younger, had a terrific sex life for 10 years before menopause came along. Post menopause, zero. We didn’t marry until I was 58 & she was 33, and I had, happily, lots of great sex before I met my wife. I don’t think I was ever “duped” by a duplicitous response from a sexual partner & I believe that I can tell what’s real and not.

    I’ve only been with one other woman who was post-menopausal, & her libido increased. We had exciting sex before and after. I don’t believe that this, statistically & empirically, is the norm.

    You have lots of good suggestions toward the end of the piece. I just think your protestation in the beginning is a little over reaching. Lots of med research & evol theory supports lower libido after menopause.

    Thanks for addressing an important issue,

    Paul Hubbard

    • Marie October 24, 2017 at 11:10 am

      You have a point but I’m pleased to see a piece that cuts through the “menopause doom”. I only wish society would update the stigma. I was so worried I’d lose my libido but I didn’t. I think every woman thinks that it’s doomsville. It isn’t.

  • Dr.Pat Allen December 13, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Dear. Sandra,

    This is a great question for an Ask Dr Pat column. I will respond in depth to your very common symptom. No woman would have a libido if she had pain with intercourse. I am optimistic that you can restore your genital mucosal health and once again find joy in your intimate relationship.

    Thanks so much for sharing your concerns and for reading and becoming part of the conversation here at!


    Dr. Pat

  • Sandra Lizioli December 10, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I had an hysterectomy and had what’s called surgical menopause overnight. I feel fine, I don’t have flushes, I have an oestrogen gel I use every day BUT yes, my libido is low and especially because it hurts to have sex even though I am not dry.

    Whilst my partner is very understanding and we are creative as a woman I feel very inadequate. HELP! Any suggestions?

    I’d love to hear if there are other women who are experiencing the same challenges and what helps them overcome them.


  • D. Lane December 9, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Dr. Pat,

    Thank you for responding to my post.
    I do not believe that there is any reason to attribute ulterior motives to women who report an experience of decreased libido following menopause. In my case, my increased sex-drive relative to my husband’s had been a long-standing issue in our marriage. My husband is ten years older than I am and has struggled with depression for many years, so I guess it’s not surprising that we were out of sync; but the disparity was a source of pain and hurt for both of us for literally decades.

    When I realized that my post-menopausal sex drive had decreased, it was almost as an afterthought. I just noticed, “Gee, we’re not fighting about this anymore.” It astonished me that post-menopause, this issue, which had once loomed so large, was no longer a source of angst in our relationship. The disparity had ended. This is not my imagination, nor is it a rationale for avoiding sex for some other, truer reason. It is simply my experience as woman.

    Thanks again for you concern.

  • drpatallen December 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Dear Ms. Lane,

    I do trust women to know why they have a lowered libido if they have chosen to think about it. I have heard your story before and want to write to you make sure that you knew that I am so glad that you sent in your comments and that you could know that I had read and “listened” to your response.

    The point of this short blog entry was to point out that there are many factors that have an impact on libido during menopause, not just hormonal change. And your story is an excellent illustration of this point.

    It is also true that for many couples a renewed level of emotional intimacy can be achieved when there is no longer a disparity in sexual interest. So instead of working on ways to increase your libido, perhaps you became more comfortable having a comfortable relationship with your partner. There is no right or wrong in these choices we make. Just personal choices.

    Do continue to read our blog and remain an active part of the conversation.

    Dr. Pat

  • D. Lane December 6, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I found the distrust of women and of their reporting of their experience of menopause that is implicit in this piece offensive – especially coming from a from a “spokesperson on women’s health.”

    My increased sex-drive relative to my husband’s was an issue in our marriage for thirty years. When I went through menopause, the disparity ended, which eliminated a source of conflict. I recognize that my sex-drive was decreased by menopause. This is not my imagination. It is my experience as woman, and it is valid.