Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife / Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert


How Your Sex Drive Changes Over Time for Women (and Men!)

Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife / Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that our sex drive changes throughout our lives. For many women, sex drive changes happen every month, but over the course of our lifetimes, there are some distinct changes related to life events like puberty, childbirth and menopause that play a direct role in how we feel about sex.

In our teens, it's all about those so-called “raging hormones” and navigating our own sexuality. This is also the time that many women start taking the birth control pill, which also has an impact on libido.

Then when we get to our twenties, it’s all about experimentation and self-discovery, while the thirties often bring childbirth and a deeper connection with our bodies.

As we hit our forties, things are different again and many women find their libido changing. But it's not just women; men have their own story to tell. Testosterone levels play a pivotal role, peaking around 30 and gradually tapering off.

In this post, we’ll take a look at sex drive in detail and the unique changes at each stage of life.

Sex Drive & Arousal As We Age

Teen Years

Teenagers are often characterized as having voracious sex drives. It’s true, interest in sexuality often intensifies during the start of puberty due to changes in hormones. In fact, it is hormones from the brain that trigger the start of puberty. In women, the hormones tell the ovaries to make estrogen and that triggers the growth and release of eggs. In men, hormones tell the testicles to make testosterone and sperm. So what does it all mean? It means that suddenly, sexuality becomes a vital aspect of a teenagers’ life! Many teenagers will start to feel sexually attracted to each other and they will develop a curiosity about sex and romantic relationships that didn’t exist before. This is all a completely normal part of growing up and can result in lots of experimentation to understand their bodies and what feels good to them.

For many teenage girls, this is often the time when they start using hormonal contraception like the birth control pill which can impact natural hormonal processes, and have an effect on sex drive. (You can read more about that in our blog post here).

Our Twenties

In our twenties, it's all about embracing the adventure of sexual exploration and self-discovery. This is the time to discover your preferences - what feels good and what sort of person you are attracted to. Many women may be on hormonal contraception during this phase, and it's worth noting that it can contribute to a low sex drive. Everyone's response is unique though but some women will have lower testosterone levels on the pill which can lead to low libido and even vaginal dryness. So, if you’re dealing with a low sex drive in your twenties, check in with your doctor and they can help rule out other conditions or even switch your birth control.

That said, for most people - men and women - sex drive is usually pretty strong in your twenties. That’s because the biological drive to reproduce is in full force! Men’s testosterone levels peak and women are generally more fertile in their 20s and early 30s.

Some women may start to notice that their sex drive is affected by their cycle. When you have your period, your estrogen levels drop and then rise again during the follicular phase which fires up your libido. Two weeks later, when you’re ovulating, your sex drive is at its highest (cue: that biological urge to reproduce!) and post ovulation, that desire might wane again.

Want to know more about how your cycle impacts your libido? Check out our blog post called How Your Cycle Affects Your Sex Drive.

Our Thirties

In your thirties, your sex drive often takes on new dimensions, especially for women. This decade often involves the transformative experiences of childbirth and parenting, introducing hormonal changes during pregnancy and postpartum that can impact sex drive.

According to 2023 data from Statista, the median age women give birth in Europe is 30. Plus, more 35- to 39-year-old women are having children. So in your 30s, or any age you decide to have a baby, you may deal with low sex drive associated with pregnancy and kids.

There’s of course the old joke that your sex life goes down the toilet as soon as you have kids and the reality is, some changes can be expected. On the plus side, alongside the demands of parenting, many women find themselves becoming more attuned to their bodies, gaining a newfound understanding of their sexual preferences and desires.

However, for those navigating the challenges of breastfeeding, it's important to recognize that libido can be impacted by various factors – from hormonal changes like elevated prolactin levels to physical discomforts such as fatigue and breast tenderness. However, it's also really important to remember that these effects are individual, temporary and not universal for all breastfeeding women. So don’t despair! Just because you have a new baby doesn’t mean that your libido is gone forever.

Understanding these changes can be helpful - knowledge is power afterall, but it can also be an important thing to discuss with your partner. Remember: open communication is critical for couples in the early days of parenting!

Our Forties and Beyond

Entering your forties is an interesting time. For women, the approach of perimenopause can introduce changes in your cycle and also hormonal changes that sway your libido and arousal.

Significant hormonal changes are common as women transition into menopause, usually between 45 and 55. Before that - during perimenopause - your ovaries will gradually decrease estrogen production until you reach menopause and stop having a period. This drop during perimenopause and menopause can lower your sex drive and also affect how sex feels because some women experience vaginal dryness as a side effect.

Meanwhile, this is also a busy time of life for most people, navigating general life stress, young children, demanding careers - all of which play a role in sexual desire.

But it’s not all bad news! Some women report heightened libidos and a sex drive akin to their twenties! Your 40s and beyond can be a sexually liberating time. You know your body and what turns you on so it can be easier to communicate with your partner which helps create an even deeper connection. And once menopause officially begins, you no longer need to worry about getting pregnant which can be very freeing for many women!

Arousal Styles: Men vs. Women

Both men and women may experience changes in their arousal styles over time. Arousal styles can be categorized into spontaneous (feeling desire out of the blue) and responsive (arising in response to stimulation). Both men and women may experience shifts in their arousal styles over time, influenced by life stages, hormonal changes, and relationship dynamics.

The key elements to tackling the difference in arousals styles in a relationship are context and communication. Discovering what works for you and your partner and talking about it is really the most important part of it.

Sex Drive Changes in Men vs. Women Over Time

Both men and women experience changes in sex drive over time but there are some differences:


  • Testosterone Decline: Testosterone levels in men tend to decline gradually from around age 30, which can be associated with a decrease in libido.
  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED): If a man is in good physical and mental health, there’s no reason he shouldn’t continue to enjoy sex life as he gets older. However, ED does become more common as men age. Erections may happen less often and may be less firm. But it’s not age itself that causes the problem as much as health problems that become more common with age, like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity, and the drugs that treat them.


  • Aging Dynamics: While men may experience a decline in testosterone, it's interesting to note that some women in their 30s may undergo a revival in libido, potentially due to hormonal shifts.
  • Hormonal Influences: Women's sexual desire is influenced by various factors, including hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle.
  • Ovulation Boost: During the reproductive years, women often experience an increase in libido during ovulation due to higher levels of estrogen and other hormones.
  • Postmenopausal Changes: After menopause, when estrogen levels decline, women may experience changes in sexual desire. However, individual responses vary, and many women continue to have satisfying sex lives after menopause.

It's crucial to recognize that sexual desire is diverse, influenced by various factors, and these generalizations may not capture individual experiences fully. Factors like physical health, psychological well-being, relationship dynamics, and cultural influences also play a significant role in your sex life.

Sex Drive After Motherhood

The journey of sex drive post-motherhood has a few distinct phases and often comes with many challenges.

During pregnancy, hormonal changes create a variety of experiences – some women may experience a huge surge in libido, while others deal with decreased sex drive due to factors like fatigue or discomfort. Some sex positions are just not available when you’re heavily pregnant. Also, many women may feel insecure about their pregnant bodies which impacts their confidence. This will have a direct effect on libido.

The postpartum period introduces a new set of challenges, involving hormonal fluctuations, physical recovery, and the demands of caring for a newborn. Sleep deprivation, stress, and more changes in body image may put a damper on your sex life temporarily.

The act of breastfeeding, linked to increased prolactin levels, can further influence sexual desire by suppressing ovulation and reducing estrogen levels. While lower estrogen levels may lead to vaginal dryness and, in some cases, a decrease in sexual desire, it's important to acknowledge that everyone’s experience may be different and not every woman will necessarily encounter these effects. Understanding and open communication with partners during this transformative phase is key to keeping the romance alive!

The Benefits of a Healthy Sex Life

It’s normal for your libido to change over time (or even daily) but if you notice that you consistently have no sex drive at all, it’s important to take action.

Studies have shown that sex is extremely beneficial to our health. Sex activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact not only our brains but several other organs in our bodies.

The benefits of sex for women include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better immune system
  • Better heart health, possibly including lower risk for heart disease
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Increased libido
  • Immediate, natural pain relief
  • Better sleep
  • Increased intimacy and closeness to a sexual partner
  • Overall stress reduction, both physiologically and emotional

If you’re concerned about your libido or have questions, talk to us. Our experts are here to help. Don’t be shy. We’ve heard it all!

All fired up and want to learn more about your libido? Check out these helpful blog posts for more information:

How to Naturally Increase Your Sex Drive

How to Spice Up Your Sex Life with Food

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