Sunday, March 4, 2012

Low sex drive and hormones

Is having a low sex drive considered to be a medical disorder?

Despite what one reads and sees on the internet, not all women have high libido. A woman’s sex drive and desires fluctuate considerably throughout life and get even more unpredictable in middle age. The sex drive in a woman may be related to a personal relationship, marriage, children job, menopause, illness or there may be no obvious cause. One common cause of decreased sex drive in women is the use of certain drugs like the anti-depressants. In most of these cases, the sex drive reverses when the condition is treated or the drug is discontinued. , some women may have a persistent low sex drive or have a complete lack of interest in sex. If this low sex drive does not bother the female or causes no distress then it is not a medical disorder. The low sex drive is only considered to be a medical disorder if it causes you stress and you agonize over it.

In any cases, in many cases of low sex drive, there are simple changes in life style that can help boor libido. In rare cases, some women may need medications.

How much sex is considered to be less than normal?

There is no number that classifies low or high sex drive. If you are your partner are happy and have have a loving relationship and you have sex once a month (or more frequently), then that is ok . if the number of times you have sex does not bother you or your partner then you are normal. Many people are in a great relationship and do not have sex more than once a week and that is perfectly okay. There is such a range of sex drive that there is no such thing as normal. With the advent of the internet, it appears that having sex all the time is the norm- this is a delusion and myth propagated by people who want to sell porno. As long as you are happy and in a loving relationship, the number of times you have sex is irrelevant.

What are common causes of low sex drive in women?

There is no simple answer to this complex problem. Sex drive in women is intricately related to many factors including good health, intimacy, emotional well-being, experiences, interpersonal relationships and beliefs. Some of the causes of low sex drive include:

Medical disorders like arthritis, diabetes, cancer, having high blood pressure, stroke, muscular disorder and other bone development problems.

Some women may have a developmental abnormality that may make sex painful or make it difficult to achieve an orgasm.

There are several medications that can lower libido. These include anti-depressants and other mood altering drugs.

While a little alcohol may stimulate your libido, too much may cause you to feel sleepy and lower your sex drive. This also applies to many illicit drugs.

One temporary cause of low sex drive is surgery. Surgery especially in the pelvic area or groin usually does not help one get in the mood for sex. This applies to any surgery . the incisions can be painful and there is a chance that the wound can fall apart during sex. So common sense indicates that sex and surgery do not go well together.

Another cause of low sex drive is both physical and emotional stress. Women who are tired after a hard day’s work may not be in the mood to have sex. Looking after children all day can also be tiresome.

Is it normal to have a low sex drive during menopause?

During menopause, the levels of the female sex hormone, estrogen starts to decline. This is associated with a decrease in sex drive. The vagina and vulva also become dry and sex during this time period is uncomfortable. It is also known that during menopause the low levels of testosterone decline and this is also associated with a decrease in libido. Although sex during and after menopause is common, most women do notice a drop in libido. Many women resort to use of lubricants and topical hormones to have satisfying sex.

What type of emotional problems can lead to low sex drive?

There is a common belief that only depression causes a low sex drive. While this is true that are many other mental health issues that can lead to a low sex drive. This includes the following:

- having financial stress
- Work related problems
- Generalized anxiety
- Unrealistic expectation
- Poor body image
- Lack of self confidence
- Low self-esteem
- History of sexual abuse
- Problems in interpersonal relationships
- Unresolved conflicts with the partner
- No or little communication with the partner’
- Partner who is cheating
- In ability to connect with the partner

How is the diagnosis of low sex drive made in women?

Having low sex drive is often due to lack of interests or desire and may often be associated with stress. In many cases, the diagnosis can be made just based on the history you provide. However, in some cases, your doctor may perform a pelvic exam especially if you have pain during sexual intercourse. In other cases the pelvic exam may reveal vaginal dryness and tender spots. In middle aged and menopausal women, other routine tests may include looking at levels of blood sugars and function of the liver and kidney. Since treatment of low sex drive is not within the realm of general physicians, it is most likely you will be referred to to a therapist.

Are there any medications that can be used to treat low sex drive?

In most cases, the treatment of low sex drive is non-medical. This may include seeing a therapist for sex education and improving self-confidence. If you are already on an anti-depressant medication, your doctor may alter the dosage or change the medication. Unfortunately, every single anti-depressant available today is known to affect libido. The one antidepressant that only mildly affects libido is wellbutrin. Unfortunately, after a few months use, this medication is also known to lower libido. Some doctors do prescribe Viagra as an off label use in women with a low sex drive. You have to discuss this with your doctor.

Are there any hormonal treatments for low sex drive?

Yes they are. There are various formulation of low dose estrogen available. The low dose estrogen not only lubricates the vaginal but also improves mood and has a positive overall effect. However, there is a lot of conflicting data about estrogen and most physicians are reluctant to prescribe these hormones for long periods. There is concern that estrogen alone when taken for a long time may increase the risk of breast and uterine cancer. For the short term, the hormone is safe.

The low dose estrogen is available as a gel paste or suppository that can be placed directly inside the vagina. Over a few days, the estrogen increases blood flow and moisturizes the vagina, thus making sex pleasant. In most cases, doctors also prescribe a low dose progesterone to counter the effects of estrogen.

The role of the male sex hormone testosterone is also conflicting. Low doses are known to increase libido in the female. However, a prescription of testosterone is very controversial. At present testosterone in any form is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of low sex drive in women. Moreover testosterone also has very undesirable side effects like excess body hair, acne and changes in mood.

Are there any home remedies to boost libido?

Well one has to be realistic. There is no magic bullet but there are something you can do at home. Exercise regularly and lose excess weight, Not only will you feel more confident you will also look sexier. Moreover, a trim weight will help boost your self-esteem. Try to communicate with your partner about your desires, needs, and wants. Sex is also a lot to do with what is in between the ears and less what is in the groin. Spice up your sex life and use different positions and different locations for sex. Experiment, use sex toys, and do something spontaneous and exciting.

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