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Loss of Sexual Desire: Biological Challenges
by Dr. Andrew D. Atwood (c), Part Four of my extensive look into Why Women Lose their Sexual Desire
A woman’s interest in sex, as I have had it reported to me, does tend to decline over time. But, there are some women for whom the change is slight. And, of course, it all depends on how much interest a woman had in sex to begin with! Some women are more hyper about sex, while others are more hypo. You could say the same about women and exercise, eating, working out of the home, spending money, or a whole host of issues. Women are not all the same. Startling news, isn’t it? Yet the biological fact remains: blood levels of androgens fall continuously in women as they age.
Low testosterone -
Testosterone affects sexual drive in both men and women. Testosterone levels peak in women's mid-20s and then steadily decline until menopause, when they drop dramatically. Without testosterone, you have no sex drive. That is biology.
Although no hormone or drug has been approved by the FDA to treat sexual problems in women, many gynecologists recommend off-label uses of testosterone therapy for women with low sexual desire to restore testosterone to normal (pre-menopausal) levels. There are other articles in the MEMBERS ONLY SECTION of my website that provide current information about the new medications that are being developed for women’s sexual desire.
Medical problems -
Mental illnesses such as depression, or medical conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, and thyroid disorders, impact a woman's sexual drive both mentally and physically. Face the facts on this: You can’t have a flat tire without having it affect the way your car handles. And, if you are, for example, depressed, you don’t feel much like doing your partner.
Some medical problems do require surgery, but know that any surgery performed anywhere around a woman’s plumbing can adversely affect sexual desire. As I have done my research, this has been one of the amazing discoveries. When surgery is done, nerves and muscles are severed, blood arteries and vessels can be damaged, and all of that can eventually result in a lack of sexual desire. Surgical help may not be sex help.
Antihistamines can lower one’s sex drive. Yes, those very common over the counter medications. Certain antidepressants (including the new generation of SSRIs such as Prozac, and all its siblings and cousins), blood pressure lowering drugs, and oral contraceptives can lower sexual desire. You absolutely must, MUST, go online and check the side effects of the medications you are taking. A lack of sexual desire due to depression can be enormously complicated by the antidepressants you take. You want help for your sex life when you are on antidepressants? Oh, boy. There is a problem. Check the side effects!
Medications can be changed. There are non-medication remedies for a lot of ordinary illnesses and if you are willing to take the time to do some research, you might well find yourself to be among the fortunate. For example, I know a number of women who have used progesterone cream to manage menopause, and not estrogen replacement therapy. The cream can be purchased at a health food store.
Research has indicated that hope, or the placebo effect, accounts for a significant amount of change when it comes to medications. What you expect, is what you get. In psychotherapy, hope accounts for about 15% of the progress that is made. Medications have to be tested against a plain old sugar pill to see how much actual impact the medications have.
It also helps explain why many supplements claim to be effective in treating sexual problems, such as low sexual desire. “Because expectations play such a large role in sexual desire, over-the-counter products may claim that they're effective, but it's likely just a placebo effect.” That’s the kind of dumb comment you can get from a medical doctor, implying that if you get positive results from the placebo effect there is something wrong.
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Posted by Jessica Watts at 6:31 PM