Why your libido may be MIA and how to find it
You're rocking it. The kids are great. Your diet and exercise program are hits. Everything is spot-on, except SEX. You "can't get no satisfaction," you're not interested in sex, or having sex even hurts! What gives?
1. Too much to do! Whether you’re a soccer mom, single woman or newlywed, somehow, everything gets put on YOUR plate. If you have no “me time,” how can you have time or desire for sex? Sleep is probably the only thing on your mind.
2. Antidepressants and birth control pills. Up to 70% of women and men experience sexual dysfunction as a side effect of antidepressants. Low libido, inability to get aroused and lack of sexual satisfaction are top reasons why women and men stop taking their antidepressants, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Conclusions on whether or not birth control pills negatively impact libido are mixed. For example, researchers reviewed 33 years of studies involving a total of 8,400 women and found 15% reported loss of libido, 63% reported no change at all, and 22% said their libido increased. Where do you fall?
3. Stress, a heavy-duty buzz killer. Researchers are digging up more reasons every day why stress cools a woman’s libido. A study published in the Journal of Sex Med found stress can increase the hormone cortisol and decrease the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Cortisol has been shown to inhibit estrogen production and lower libido. DHEA is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland and synthesized into testosterone and estrogen. Testosterone and estrogen are required for healthy sexual function. Unhealthy weight gain also causes cortisol levels to spike. Science aside, we can all relate to how stress can keep you distracted from sex.
Find out if your hormones are out of whack using at-home hormone test kits.
4. Childbirth.The joy of motherhood! Breastfeeding can help cement your mother-child bond but the protein prolactin, also called luteotropic hormone or luteotropin, is largely responsible for a woman’s ability to produce milk. It also can decrease libido, according to the article Libido and Breastfeeding – Where Did My Sex Drive Go?
5. Lack of communications in your romantic relationship. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles found women who reported a lack of open communication with their partners were also likely to report low sexual interest.
So sex has gone by the wayside. What can you do?
1. See your physician. You may be experiencing female sexual dysfunction (FSD) if you have the following symptoms consistently for a period of two to three months with no clear origin.
FSD is characterized as persistent
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Inability to have sex
- Lack of satisfaction from sex
If these symptoms are familiar, you need to know you’re not alone and treatments are available. New research shows FSD affects as many as 40% of women. Although hormonal imbalance is not the only cause of FSD, it is cited as a common reason. Your doctor can test hormones levels or find other reasons for your inability to enjoy sex or desire it. Low estrogen can cause any of the symptoms of FSD: vaginal dryness, vaginal soreness, blood after intercourse from tears to the vaginal tissue, inability to become sexually aroused and disinterest in sex.
2. Consider Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (bHRT). Hormone replacement therapy is usually a long-term program that requires consistency. It boosts or replaces sex hormones that the body no longer creates in sufficient levels. It's all about balance.
Bioidentical hormones are derived from wild yams and chemically identical to the hormones created by the body (endogenous).
2. Lower stress and create “me time” by practicing mindfulness. Do you find that your "alone" time at the gym, café or hairstylist is "crowded"? The reason: Although you're physically out of the chaos, your mind is still running at warp speed. Practice mindfulness to find peace and solitude. In simple terms, mindfulness means focusing on what you are experiencing at that moment and nothing else. It's being “in the moment.”
Tips to learn mindfulness
Use mantras. Mantras are the repetition of words or phrases. They may be simple or complex. Mantras work by displacing stressful thoughts so you can focus on your action at that moment. Most people think mantras are only for yoga and breathing exercises, but mantras work for everyday actions as well. The study Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice found a positive link between washing dishes and the creation of a meditative state for the mind. Sweeping the floor while using a mantra can also give you that much-needed escape.
3. Change your birth control. If you are on oral contraceptives and notice a dip in your libido, talk to your physician. The answer may be as simple as switching to another combined oral contraceptive.
The article Oral Contraception and Female Sexual Dysfunction in Reproductive Women published in Sexual Medicine Review discusses a link between the first-generation progestin, norgestimate, and decreased libido. The same article reported that fourth-generation progestin, drospirenone, did not lower study participant's libido.
Birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin both contain drospirenone and could help return your healthy libido. FYI: The brand names "Yaz" and "Yasmin" sound similar, but they are not the same. They each contain different amounts of active ingredients. Here's more info to prevent confusion: Yaz is also sold under the generic "brand" names Gianvi, Loryna, Nikki, and Vestura. Generic versions of Yasmin are sold under the generic "brand" names Zarah, Syeda, and Ocella.
Combination birth control pills Ortho tri-Cyclen Lo, Tri-Lo Marzia, Tri-lo Estarylla, Trinessa Lo, and Tri-lo Sprintec all contain the first-generation progestin norgestimate. Again, make sure you speak with your doctor before making any changes in your birth control. The cause of your low libido can be unrelated.
4. Check your antidepressant. If you suspect your antidepressant is inhibiting your libido, talk with your physician. Another prescription antidepressant may not have the same side effect. Caution! Abruptly stopping your antidepressant can be life-threating. Speak with your doctor before changing or stopping your medication.
5. Open up communication in your relationship. Yes, talking more can help, but communication doesn't always involve words or follow typical couples therapy guidelines. Let him know he is on your mind. Flirt again like you did when you first met. Dress extra sexy. Try sexting. Research published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking showed that sending sexy text messages and sexy images had a positive impact on relationship satisfaction among married couples. Sexting of text-only helped couples who reported avoidance in their relationship. Sending sexy images increased sexual satisfaction among men and help ease attachment anxiety in women.
7. Try Lady V, a female “Viagra.” Lady V is a custom-blended medication consisting of sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, and icariins, a compound extract from the plant Icariins Sagittam, also known as Epimedium and Barrenwort.
Icariins Sagittam has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a natural aphrodisiac in both men and women. Just like sildenafil, icariins is a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor. PDE5 inhibitors treat erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis. The opening of blood vessels, vasodilation, results in an erection.
According to studies, sildenafil may affect postmenopausal and perimenopausal women similarly to improve sexual function. The increased blood to women's sexual reproductive organs sets off a host of responses including vaginal lubrication. Blood flow and lubrication are important to women's sexual health.
How sildenafil may treat FSD
Women who have participated in studies on sildenafil for the treatment of FSD1,2 reported increased sexual desire, ability to attain sexual satisfaction and increased vaginal lubrication. Increased vaginal lubrication can reduce pain during sex caused by vaginal dryness.
So let’s recap. How can you turn up the volume on your sex life? The answer may be quite the opposite of what you imagined. Turn off the outside noise and look quietly within.
- Pay attention to your body. Could your low libido stem for your prescription birth control or antidepressant?
- If you don't want to change your birth control pill or antidepressant, get Lady V to boost your libido.
- Do you need to focus inward, on the moment, by practicing mindfulness?
- Try sexting to open up communication and create playfulness between you and your partner.
- If your estrogen or any of your sex hormone levels are low due to premenopause or menopause, find out if Bioidentical Hormone Replacent Therapy (bHRT) can help balance your hormones.
As you can see, there are several options to reclaim your sexuality. You don't have to just accept low libido or vaginal dryness. Having sex, enjoying sex and desiring sex is vital to your physical and emotional health. Talk to your doctor, try new things with your partner. A first-time could lead to many good times.
1 Alatas, Erkan, and A Baki Yagci. The effect of sildenafil citrate on uterine and clitoral arterial blood flow in postmenopausal women.” MedGenMed : Medscape general medicine vol. 6,4 51. 13 Oct. 2004
2 Caruso S1, Rugolo S, Agnello C, Intelisano G, Di Mari L, Cianci A. Premenopausal women affected by sexual arousal disorder treated with sildenafil: a double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled study. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology June 2001, Vol. 108, pp. 623±628
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