Low Libido in Women
Many women suffer from low libido. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women in the United States suffer from low sexual desire. However, very few women talk about loss of libido. They don’t even tell their doctor! It’s a subject no one wants to discuss. Meanwhile, more women than men voice some form of sexual complaint when asked — 43 percent vs. 31 percent. Yet FDA-approved treatments exist for men with erectile dysfunction or low testosterone. Drug companies race to help men with low libido or erectile dysfunction, but they have’t yet realized that improving low libido in women is just as important.
Low sexual desire has an impact on more than just sex. It can be associated with negative feelings that affects every aspect of life, including what happens in the bedroom, body image, mood, self-confidence and self-worth. When women loose desire, they feel disappointed, frustrated and inadequate. The blame and avoidance sets in, which translates to less sex and intimacy.
Origin Of Sex Drive In Women
What actually creates the feeling of desire and sex drive in women? Women have hormones, which are very complicated and need to work together in harmony. Hormones are the chemical messengers that control everyday functions like mood, energy and even memory. Hormones are produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Every month at midcycle or ovulation, women’s brains tell their ovaries to make hormones. Those sex hormones include – estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. (We normally think that testosterone makes men . . . men. Women have testosterone too, just not as much.)
According to Dr. Jen Landa, MD, hormone expert and author of ”The Sex Drive Solution for Women,” women have the greatest desire in their late teens and early twenties when they are most physically fit to reproduce. As early as her mid-30s, a woman may lose some of that sex drive. (Women’s testosterone levels peak in their 20s, and then decline to around half those peak levels by their 40s.) The good news is that for some women they can get that desire back with the correct balance of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. (More on that later.)
Hormones Are Not The Only Factor In Women’s Desire
It’s not just about hormones. Although hormones drive desire in a woman, many things in addition to biology need to work in harmony for a strong libido. Everything needs to be emotionally, physically and socially aligned for the libido to be strong. According to Amy S. Lee, MS, WHCRNP, Nurse Practitioner, “sex drive in women is a complicated array of responses involving psychological, physiological, and emotional components.” Furthermore, any of the following below can contribute to low desire in women:
- Birth control
- Lack of exercise & poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- Low testosterone, estrogen progesterone, oxytocin levels
- Relationship problems
What Do You Do If You Lost Your Libido Or You Have A Spouse Who Has Low Desire?
Dr. Landa has recently published a book, “The Sex Drive Solution For Women” that includes her three-step, pro-libido lifestyle, nutrition and fitness plan. She believes that food sensitivities, adrenal toxins, sugar, and hormones steal energy. When a woman doesn’t have energy, then she definitely doesn’t have energy for sex! Dr. Landa’s steps help women gain back their energy. (One can’t be passive about a low libido. Maintaining one’s health (and sexual health) takes work. It doesn’t just happen!)
Step 1 – Avoid toxins and eat fresh foods. Focus on protein and fruits and vegetables. Avoid soda. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee a day. And eat small frequent meals to keep your energy up.
Step 2- Get plenty of rest and exercise. According to Dr. Landa, exercise gets the blood flowing to the genitals and increases testosterone production.
Step 3 – De-stress. “Stress is the biggest libido killer of all,” says Dr. Landa. When you are stressed, the last thing on your mind is sex. It’s also worth noting that stress also increases the amount of cortisol made by the adrenal gland. Cortisol is a hormone that helps a person effectively combat stress. An increase in cortisol can lower the production of testosterone. Unfortunately, the body makes cortisol at the expense of making any other hormone. So, Dr. Landa suggests that women get their cortisol levels under control. When cortisol is under control, energy comes back, the mood gets better and women can even loose those last few pounds!
A natural way to de-stress is with B complex vitamins, which support stress & adrenal glands. Herbs like ginseng and L-theanine, a green tea extract, has a calming and focusing effect.
What Else Can Be Done To Improve Low Libido?
As noted above, depression can also lower sex drive. Some prescription medications, especially some antidepressants have been shown to contribute to a low libido. Some drugs can even dry out the vagina, which leads to painful sex.
If a woman is on birth control,try a new brand, a lower-estrogen pill or the Patch. If possible, stop using the pill for 3 to 6 months and see what happens. With no artificial hormones in the body, the ovaries will start producing testosterone again. Of course, one can also stop using the pill permanently. ”If you’ve determined that there’s nothing else that might be impacting your sex drive, certainly the first thing I would recommend is a hiatus from the Pill,” says Alan Altman, M.D., a sexual-dysfunction specialist and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.
As a last resort, hormone therapy might be needed. Although everyone is different, ”most women are faced with an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone and hormone balance is really important”, says Dr. Landa. So, hormone therapy must individualized not some general solution off the shelf. There should be hormone testing where hormone levels are checked.
Finally, Dr. Landa suggests good old fashioned scheduling and variety. Try to have date night 2 nights a month. Try something new like luxury sex toys, massage candles, read erotic fiction.