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Dispelling the myth that menopause (and manopause) equals lost libido

Feeling like your libido took a detour to Bluff and forgot to leave a forwarding address? You’re not alone.

Comfi, the team behind New Zealand’s first online bed store with a social purpose, recently hosted a rollicking panel discussion with libido luminaries, certified somatic sexologist Morgan Penn and men’s health expert Gareth O’Donnell. They tackled the topic of libido decline during menopause and ‘manopause’, shaking up old-school misconceptions like 2015’s musty throw pillows.

It’s normal for both men and women to experience a gradual decline in libido as they age. Lessening libido can be caused by a variety of factors, including fluctuating hormones in perimenopause, menopause and manopause – or, simply put, a dip in our oestrogen and testosterone levels.

Penn says that while passion in long-term relationships can diminish over time, loss of interest in sex is not an inevitable part of aging.

“Libido is mysterious and elusive; it can be a hard-to-find thing, but we know it is cultivated in the body. Sex hormones decrease as we age, but not at the same pace for all people.

“Sexual energy is life force energy, and once you start, you get into it, and things are flowing, you’re breathing, blood flow is pumping and oxygen is moving through your body. Once you’re doing it, your pleasure will create an oxytocin release, and you will feel good,” she says.

O’Donnell says the quality of your sleep directly impacts the quality of your life.

“The more rested we are, the more hormones our body releases for better vitality and life force. Testosterone in women comes from the adrenal glands, which release cortisol when stressed. Cortisol can blunt the adrenal gland’s testosterone response.

“Men produce the most amount of testosterone in their REM or ‘dream sleep’ phase, which occurs in the early hours of the morning. That’s why men can wake up feeling horny in the morning. Waking up too early could mean men miss essential dream sleep; REM sleep is vital for maintaining a healthy libido.”

Because sleep and libido are vital human needs and nurtured in bed, Comfi beds, Penn, and O’Donnell have teamed up to give expert tips for reuniting with your long-lost libido and dispel some common myths.

Six tips for reigniting your libido in menopause and manopause

  • “I’ve nothing left to give at the end of the day.” All day, you’ve been all things to all people. It’s 9 pm, and you feel like the Energizer Bunny ran out of batteries. Fear not! Be more in tune with how you feel during the day by recognising a zesty moment – don’t let this spark of arousal in your body pass – follow up that feeling! It could lead to an easy-as-Sunday-morning session or a weekday lunchtime rendezvous with your significant other. If you’re toiling away in your WFH office – look after yourself – who said you had to wait until the end of the day?
  • Keeping up with the Joneses: Forget keeping score – there’s no gold medal for most bedroom Olympics. Penn and O’Donnell agree there is no normal benchmark for the frequency of intimacy and sex – what feels good for you and what you desire for your body will be different to your friends and even your partner. Once a week is a huge success for one person and once a month for another. Know that the frequency of sex will change as our bodies change – we desire different things at different stages of life. Embrace your rhythm, and remember, friends could be fibbing about their nightly workouts anyway!
  • Communication is Queen (and King): Want to be a bedroom superhero? Open those lines of communication and let your desires be known. It’s a win-win for both! Communicate with each other what you need to feel good in your body and what makes you feel sexy and aroused. This could be a daily walk or compliments from your partner to feel desired. Once you’ve been honest about what you like and what makes you feel good, your partner has a chance to deliver.
  • Penn recommends couples have relationship check-ins where they regularly ask each other the same questions: How are you feeling in your sexual body this week? How can I love you better this week? What can I do to help you feel more connected to me? Pick your own questions for discussion so nothing is missed or allowed to boil up.

  • Feeling fabulous in your skin: Who says you can’t be sexy at any age? Celebrate your evolving body and all it has journeyed through. Deep compassion for your body is the basis for acceptance, appreciation, and confidence in the bedroom and life.
  • Scheduling intimacy is NOT a passion killer: If you don’t plan your gym or yoga sessions, it probably won’t happen – and why would intimacy and sex be any different?
  • Penn says that when couples are regularly intimate, they are more likely to have spontaneous sex. The more you are intimate, the more oxytocin (the love hormone) is released, enabling a stronger connection with your partner.

  • Period talk with boys: Let’s talk about the birds, the bees, and everything in between. Penn believes society needs to educate our boys properly about menstruation. By normalising period chat, when boys turn into men who have relationships with women, they will better understand their girlfriend’s cycle and not approach hormonal health as a taboo subject – this includes being equipped to support their partner in childbirth and acquiring a deeper sense of what’s going on for women in menopause.
  • “We aren’t giving men the benefit of the doubt; we scaffold them in conversations about our female bodies. In childbirth, we ask them not to look down there, but this is unhelpful because the female body is both a pleasure portal and a birth portal. If we talk openly about our bodies from an early age, this will also help men talk about what’s going on in their bodies in their different life phases more than they do,” says Penn.

    Comfi co-founder Vicki Eriksen says normalising conversations about our changing hormones will break down stigmas across genders and generations.

    “We are on a mission to encourage healthy habits in bed because we want only very good things to happen in our Comfi beds.

    “By bringing these conversations into the light and having a meaningful dialogue about what is happening in our sleep and our health and vitality at different life stages, we aim to empower individuals to prioritise a restful, rejuvenating bed experience.”

    Watch the panel discussion here.


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