Get Back In The Mood
An Undercharged Libido Is The Most Common Sexual Problem Women Face;
Lighting It Up Again Only Takes A Little Knowledge.
April 23rd, 2004
By Ken McGrath :eCureMe Contributor
April 22th, 2004 : Physician Reviewed
There are names and acronyms for it: hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD),
female sexual dysfunction (FSD), inhibited sexual desire (ISD), sexual aversion
and sexual apathy. But many women know it just by feel, when they realize it has
been months since they felt that spark. Over 33% of women from 18 to 59 report
that just not having the urge was their most common problem in the bedroom. The
causes are wide ranging, but so are the solutions; and in the coming years,
jump-starting your desire may be as simple as visiting the pharmacy.
As prevalent as it is, it’s important not to confuse a low libido with
related problems, like difficulty becoming aroused or difficulty reaching orgasm.
Chances are, if you’re having difficulty with arousal or orgasm, you have
an appetite for pleasure; it’s just not being fulfilled. The two sets of
problems can feed into each other. If you’re having difficulty becoming
aroused and climaxing, the whole process of sex can start to lose its luster.
Women with lowered libido generally find that the possibility of pleasure has
lost appeal. The primary symptom is a loss of interest in sex, though secondary
symptoms can include a decrease in sexual activity, feelings of apathy during
sex - even while you’re trying to please your partner - vaginal
dryness and decreased genital sensation. Reduced desire can also be selective;
you may no longer desire sex with your partner, but the thought of other
partners might get you going.
When it comes to sex, there is no normal: some women need sex
once a month, others may need it at least once a day. Thinking that there is
a median of desire, some women might feel their libido is abnormal when it
isn’t. This problem can be exacerbated by relationships where the two
partners have varying sex drives. If your partner feels the need at least once
a day, but you’re only horny once or twice a week, it’s easy to
think there’s a problem when nothing’s wrong. Unless you want to
be in the mood more than you are, you don’t have a problem.
The underlying causes of low sexual desire are also difficult to identify, and
vary from woman to woman. On one hand, some cases are primarily related to changes
in the body. During menopause, glands release less estrogen and less testosterone.
Both are related to a woman’s sex drive, though testosterone - typically
identified with men - is thought to be the primary hormonal mover and shaker
behind women’s desire. Once it thins out, so does the libido. Thyroid
disorders can produce the same results.
Menopause, however, can’t take all the blame. The highest percentages of
women who report tepid sex drives are between 35 and 39 years old, years ahead
of menopause. Prescription medication can also factor into the equation. By
reducing the effect of testosterone in a woman’s system, or restricting
the flow of blood to certain areas, many medications can choke off desire.
Certain types of blood pressure and contraceptive medication can lead to problems.
Among the most common desire inhibiting medications is a class of drugs known
as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that include the widely
prescribed antidepressants Prozac and Zoloft. Some researchers believe that
because the drugs pump the bloodstream with serotonin, a chemical that can
help to signal satisfaction, the body doesn’t need to generate any more
of it by being sexual. According to some reports, as many as half of those who
take the popular drugs notice their libidos dip.
A Mental Challenge
" The majority of reasons that women lose interest in sex are psychological,"
says Dr. Ava Cadell, a clinical sexologist in Los Angeles. " If your body is
healthy, it’s really mind over matter. If you expect your libido to diminish
by a certain age, it will."
Most experts agree on this point. Women’s sexuality tends to be more nuanced
and complicated than men’s. A certain emotional comfort level has to exist
in order for women to feel inclined towards sex, and any number of interpersonal
or psychological difficulties can interrupt that comfort.
Low self-esteem can decrease desire. "If a woman doesn’t think
she’s worthy of sex," notes Cadell, "chances are she won’t be
as open to the possibility." Any latent hostility or anger a woman harbors
towards her partner can easily present as a roadblock to their physical relationship.
If the intimacy in a relationship isn’t as close as a woman may like, she may
consciously or unconsciously decide not to be sexual with her partner. Past sexual
experiences that were unpleasant or traumatic can present a block to sexual feeling
as well, as can depression, recent childbirth or poor body image.
Routine can also figure into desire problems. If the sex you have been having is
predictable and unexciting, you may slowly sour on the experience.
Lifelong inhibited desire is rare, and in most cases reviving desire only requires
that a woman and her partner change the way they’ve been interacting.
If sex has become routine, try new things: set aside certain times for being
romantic, find an outfit that makes you feel risque, fantasize, make an effort to
try new positions or locations. If you can jump start your sex life, the renewed
excitement may keep you coming back.
If your difficulties have to do with unresolved feelings towards your partner,
it’s important to get them out in the open. Talking about issues that may
make you less likely to feel amorous is a good first step in rebuilding the trust
that has to precede sexual interest. When problems have to be dealt with, Dr.
Cadell says, "the process of forgiveness is essential for moving forward and
g with your partner."
Sometimes certain relationship difficulties can be too much to handle alone, and
often sex or marital therapy can help to diffuse tension. If you’re not
quite sure where to find one, the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors
and Therapists keeps a directory of licensed practitioners throughout the U.S. and
Canada at their website
A dubious pharamacopeia of herbal supplements, cremes and pills touts its ability
to restart idled sexual engines, however few have been tested and none have been
approved by the FDA. So far, researchers haven’t found a silver bullet
medication or therapy for women with low levels of desire, but since Viagra exploded
onto the sexual dysfunction scene in the late 90s, scientists have been looking at
the potential much more closely. Early attempts to modify Viagra for use by women
led to disappointing results.
Several new treatments are on the horizon though. In 2003, preliminary clinical
tests of a product called LibiGel, made by BioSante Pharmaceuticals, were conducted.
LibiGel’s main ingredient is testosterone. Women involved with the study
rubbed the gel onto their arms, shoulders or abdomens and the testosterone was
absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. At the conclusion of the test
period, the subjects reported a 136% jump in sexual desire.
A similar process has worked for Proctor & Gamble as its been developing a
testosterone patch based therapy it calls Instrinsia. Like the nicotine patch
used by smokers, small testosterone patches are placed on the body for about a
week, allowing the hormone to seep into the blood and stimulate appetites. Test
results have been promising and Instrinsia is slated to go on the market later
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