“You lose the moisture in your skin, you lose your libido and you don’t feel up for ‘it’,” says Jaques.“When I started going through the perimenopause stage of vaginal dryness, it was confronting for me because I’ve never had problems in ‘that department’. ” Jaques decided to fight the change with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which aims to replace female hormones as they decline in your body during menopause. I get tired more frequently now [because of my age] and I don’t have as much energy but I think about sex and have sex on a regular basis.” Cancer Council NSW estimates that around 600,000 Australian women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT).Of all the milestones a woman has to look forward to in her life, a first encounter with ‘the change’ is not usually one of them.

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Jaques, who has now been on HRT for nine years, says she isn’t worried about the risks associated with the therapy.

“There are risks with every medication, even antibiotics,” says Jaques.

However, Dr Farrell adds, HRT is safe for healthy women aged 50 to 60 who don’t have risks for heart disease or other major medical risks.

It can even “help prevent osteoporosis or be a treatment for it”.

She adds that the Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project also shows that improved libido and sexual function was related primarily to a new partner.

This comes as good news for older women, especially given the fact that online dating site RSVP reports that its 50-plus female base has doubled over the last decade, with the last few years seeing the highest growth.

“I think it helps some feel more sexual generally, and could increase the interest in going back out on the dating scene if they are single,” says Arndt.

“…HRT helps remove the night sweats and restores the health of the vagina, which is a bonus if you have a sexual relationship." However, she adds, “many of the older women I work with find dating is a daunting prospect.

Jaques used to get anxious very quickly about matters that never bothered her before and often felt mentally scattered.