A survey in 1999 revealed that sexual problems occur in at least 43% of women in the United States. Libido or lack of sexual desire is the most common sexual complaint. An occasional transient problem is very common; however if it is persistent, or pain is involved, it is time to seek professional help.
The etiology of decreased libido is usually multi-factorial involving hormonal health, and relationship component.
Hormonal testing can be very helpful in evaluation of decreased libido; vitamin, herbal or hormonal supplementation may be indicated.
Medications including anti-depressants and birth control pills can worsen the sexual difficulties.
Americans tend to prioritize time and energy to other things and the eroticism needed to maintain a healthy sexual life does not easily fit in to our concept of parents and family.
The “super mom” runs out of energy and motivation late at night and may be too overwhelmed with multi-tasking to enjoy or create the sexual experience.
Diminished libido can co-exist with orgasmic issues and vaginal pain; it can be exacerbated by other undiagnosed or untreated health problems including hypo-thyroidism and depression.
A negative self-image also intensifies lack of libido; self-esteem plummets when comparing oneself to the beautiful erotic American cover girl ad.
Many women suffer in silence- feeling they are alone and to blame- and afraid to that no help is available to them. The truth is that there are many treatment modalities available in an holistic approach to the problem. Each woman is unique and needs individual evaluation to find the blend of therapies that will improve her libido and enhance her sexual life.
Sexual Health and Menopause
Our sexuality and our sex lives don’t suddenly end with menopause. The intimacy, playfulness and health benefits derived from our active sex life can continue through our golden years. Libido issues, or decreased desire for sex, are complaints of about 45% of the female population at one time or another in their lives. This percentage seems to actually be rising with the daily pressures of our society and the baby boomers coming of age. Although intimacy issues can be seen during anytime in a woman’s life, the plummeting hormones account for about doubling of this number during menopause, in addition to other factors. These can include vaginal dryness, body image issues, stamina and general health, depression, family and partner issues. Some women have always noted a mildly lagging libido that suddenly plummets around this time.
Can this important aspect of our lives be improved? The answer is an overwhelming “yes”. The evaluation of sexual health issues begins with an assessment of general health and hormonal levels. Her self esteem, personal motivation and intimate relationship also comes into play when evaluating the source of “libido lost”. Usually, multiple factors are in play in every individual. Are hormones, bioidentical or other, the only answer? Of course not, but they may be one of the tools chosen to help build back that integral part of your life. Herbal supplementation, vitamins, exercise, medication, evaluation of personal motivation and relationship rebuilding are all in the toolbox needed to construct a lasting and fulfilling intimate life. Each woman needs to investigate what factors into her own situation, then she can choose what instruments she feels comfortable with to build a better physical and emotional relationship with her partner. Those that feel that thy have a satisfying sexual life during menopause also can discover increased eroticism and sexual satisfaction by re-evaluating their goals and optimizing their resources. Regular sexual intimacy has been shown to increase lifespan, improve your physical health, decrease depression and boost immunity. Why not do all this and have fun doing it? Discussing options with your health care provider may improve every day and night for the rest of your life.
Each of us creates habitual responses to certain life situations. These responses are learned in childhood, adolescent and adult experiences and can be both negative and positive. Our responses to sexual stimuli are based on these same developed patterns. Awareness of patterns is half the battle in controlling any programmed negative responses. Biofeedback helps us to recognize and counteract our learned tendencies. Biofeedback helps to alleviate the 70% of sexual dysfunction in both men and women that is attributable to the stress response elicited by erotic stimuli. Biofeedback can also be helpful to train women who suffer from vaginismus, the instinctual contraction of vaginal and pelvic muscles, in response to anticipating painful sex and the inability to allow vaginal penetration.