If you think you may be suffering from a lack of interest in sex due to a medical issue, talk to your doctor about the various treatments available today.
Ask your doctor for treatment options for vaginal dryness. Vaginal estrogen therapy can help relieve vaginal dryness, irritation and pain. A vaginal estradiol ring, as well as a vaginal suppository, are now available that deliver low-dose estrogen topically. These methods result in almost non-detectable hormone levels in the bloodstream, and thus do not carry the same risks of traditional estrogen replacement therapy.
Talk to your doctor about prescription testosterone and its over-the-counter versions dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Keep in mind that testosterone replacement in women has not been studied suffiently to determine whether or not it is safe or effective. The known dangers: (1) An increased risk of heart disease because it can change HDL (high density lipoprotein—the "good" cholesterol) to LDL (low-density lipoprotein—the "bad" cholesterol). (2) Conversion of some percentage of testosterone to estrogen, which can fuel estrogen-dependent cancers, such as breast cancers. (3) Causing liver damage. (4) Changing the sex of a developing fetus. (5) Difficulty in regulating how much testosterone is delivered to the body using current medications. (6) Causing changes in facial hair and voice, the latter being irreversible.
Tackling Depression and Sexual Function
Talk to your doctor about switching to medications known to have less effect on sexual function, or trying lower dosages. The SSRI antidepressants can cause loss of libido in as many as 60 percent of patients. Therapy for depression may work well for some women, in lieu of an antidepressant medication. Sometimes switching to a different medication option can make a difference. If you are on the pill, consider changing to a different oral contraceptive or a non-hormonal method of contraception.
Therapy and Diet
Low libido is probably neither all in your head nor all in your body. As such, it's probably a good idea to cover your bases by visiting your doctor to address any potential medical issues. In addition, a therapist can help you sort out whether lifestyle or relationship issues may be part of the problem, and help you develop strategies to manage them. Finally, it is always beneficial to complement these approaches with something tried and true: exercise regularly and eat a healthful and varied diet. This is a safe method to boost energy, improve self-image, elevate mood and enhance sex drive.
Published on July 15, 2003