Clare Bailey gives her advice: What has happened to my libido?

A problem shared…GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice: What has happened to my libido?

  • Anonymous UK-based woman asks for advice on getting her sex drive back 
  • The 49-year-old says her husband has been understanding but is frustrated
  • Clare Bailey advised the woman to boost her energy and mood by exercising 

Q I’ve been happily married for 20 years and always had a close and loving relationship with my husband even when the children (now 17 and 19) were small. But in the past year my libido has gone. I’m 49 and don’t have any desire to have sex. My husband has been understanding but I know he is frustrated. What has happened to my sex drive and how do I get it back?

A First, you are not alone. As a GP, I have seen lots of women who find their libido falls off a cliff when they get close to 50. Most don’t ask directly about it — it often comes out while other symptoms are being discussed that they’ve been putting up with a low sex drive.

At 49, your two main sex hormones, oestrogen and testosterone, will be taking a dive, and life stresses could well be sapping your libido too. A year of lockdowns with possible increased alcohol, weight gain and lack of exercise, combined with the fear and anxiety around Covid, could all be having an impact on your mood.

An anonymous UK-based woman, 49, asked GP Clare Bailey for advice on getting her sex drive back (file image)

Low energy and feeling tired will reduce your desire for sex. I am assuming you don’t have any obvious physical cause for persistent tiredness such as low levels of the hormone thyroxine, or anaemia. If the tiredness continues, you should check in with your GP.

Also, consider that you are at a life stage associated with change and might be feeling a sense of loss as your children become more independent. Or maybe it feels like you are getting to know your partner again after years of parenting.

So what to do? Start by finding ways to reduce stress. Can you take a little time every day to do something for yourself? A long bath, a DIY facial? You could even give mindfulness a go. Exercise will boost your energy and mood, so try online yoga or Pilates, or a challenge such as the Couch to 5K run?

Start a conversation with your husband about how you are feeling, so the situation doesn’t fester. It’s likely he is feeling rejected and will appreciate your honesty.

Clare (pictured) explained the drop in libido is likely caused by a rapid change in hormones

Being able to talk calmly and openly is important, as communicating and connecting sensitively with each other plays a huge part in sexual attraction and arousal.

Think of it as an ‘I feel . . .’ conversation, where you acknowledge that there is an issue you want to resolve and avoid anything blaming or threatening. If you think you might benefit from further support as a couple, Relate ( can help you to make an appointment with a sex therapist.

The most likely cause of your drop in libido, however, is the rapid change in your hormones owing to the menopause. Symptoms can include vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, which might be increasing your reluctance. Your GP can prescribe local oestrogen creams that revitalise the vaginal lining, and for many women HRT can be transformative, restoring hormone balance and boosting libido, as well as lifting your mood.

In the meantime, there are plenty of safe and effective lubricants designed for women such as Sylk and Meg’s Menopause, which are available at chemists and online. Some couples are happy for their sex lives to tail off in later life and retain a loving relationship. But if you want a physical relationship there is no reason why you can’t continue into your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.

What camilla and i have in common! 

Up to 14 million people in the UK, mainly women, suffer from bunions. I am one of them and it seems I’m in good company, along with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and actress Helen Mirren.

That unsightly bulge at the base of my big toes has plagued me since I was young. I have a genetic predisposition to them, but they can also be caused by pressure on the big toe from tight or pointy shoes. Thankfully, I’ve discovered stylish, comfortable shoes by Sole Bliss made of soft materials designed to have support, with cushioning in all the right places. Pain-free feet — that’s total bliss.

You can write to Clare at [email protected] or Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. 

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