Services for Women
When Sex Is No Longer Fun For Women
Women have sex drive and libido just like men. Although the sex drive of women is hormonally based and when the hormones are not aligned properly, havoc takes place. There are also a dozen other physical causes that can affect a women’s interest in sex. However, help is available and most women with decrease or loss of libido can be helped.
A woman’s desire for sex is based on a complex interaction of many components affecting intimacy, including physical well-being, emotional well-being, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle and current relationship. If you’re experiencing problems in any of these areas, it can affect your sexual desire.
Numerous nonsexual diseases can also affect desire for sex, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and neurological diseases. Infertility also can contribute to low sex drive, even after infertility treatments are over.
Many prescription medications — including antidepressants, blood pressure medications and chemotherapy drugs — are notorious libido killers. Antihistamines also can diminish your sex drive.
A glass of wine may make you feel amorous, but too much alcohol can spoil your sex drive; the same is true of street drugs.
Any surgery related to your breasts or your genital tract can affect your body image, function and desire for sex. Also, surgery in the pelvis on the uterus or ovaries can affect a woman’s sex desire and interest.
Finally, changes in your hormone levels may change your desire for sex: Estrogen helps maintain the health of your vaginal tissues and your interest in sex. But estrogen levels drop during the transition to menopause, which can cause a double whammy — decreased interest in sex and dryer vaginal tissues, resulting in painful or uncomfortable sex. At the same time, women may also experience a decrease in the hormone testosterone, which boosts sex drive in men and women alike. Although many women continue to have satisfying sex during menopause and beyond, some women experience a lagging libido during this hormonal change.
Treatments for low sex desire
Unfortunately, there is no simple pill or potion to increase sex drive in women. In fact, most women benefit from a multifaceted treatment approach aimed at the many causes behind this condition. This may include sex education, counseling, lifestyle changes and sometimes medication.
Healthy lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your desire for sex: Regular aerobic exercise and strength training can increase your stamina, improve your body image, elevate your mood and enhance your libido. Finding a better way to cope with work stress, financial stress and daily hassles can enhance your sex drive. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) can improve your awareness of the muscles involved in pleasurable sexual sensations and increase your libido. To perform these exercises, tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping a stream of urine. Hold for a count of five, relax and repeat. Do these exercises several times a day. Remember a Kegel a day keeps the sex drive up so you can have a great time in the hay!
Systemic estrogen therapy — by pill, patch or gel — can have a positive effect on brain function and mood factors that affect sexual response. Local estrogen therapy — in the form of a vaginal cream or a slow-releasing suppository or ring that you place in your vagina — can increase blood flow to the vagina and help improve desire. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a combination of estrogen and progesterone.
Male hormones, such as testosterone, play an important role in female sexual function, even though testosterone occurs in much lower amounts in women. However, replacing testosterone in women is controversial and it’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sexual dysfunction in women. Plus, it can cause negative side effects, including acne, excess body hair (hirsutism), and mood or personality changes. Testosterone seems most effective for women with low testosterone levels as a result of surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy). If you choose to use this therapy, your doctor will closely monitor your symptoms to make sure you’re not experiencing negative side effects. I have had several dozen patients who have used testosterone replacement therapy for decreased libido with amazing results.
Bottom Line: Sex is not over when a women enters middle age. There are many treatment options that can help her get back in the saddle. Contact your doctor for more information.
This article has been excerpted from the May Clinic Newsletter: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/low-sex-drive-in-women/DS01043/DSECTION=causes
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