By: Holly L. Thacker, MD
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Besides giving you and your partner a feeling of intimacy, sex has a long list of benefits: It can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, increase endorphins and may even boost your immunity.
Does it count as exercise? Yes, yes it does.
Why a low libido?
With all the health benefits, why does low libido occur? It may come down to the basic drives that help us survive.
Most of us feel driven to eat out of hunger as food is necessary to live. Sex is different. It is critical for human survival but not for our individual survival. Many people aren’t driven to exercise, but they enjoy it once they do it. For many women, the same is true about sex.
In mid-life and beyond, it’s not uncommon or abnormal for women to notice they have a diminished or even absent sex drive. In some cases, this is not considered a problem. It depends on whether it concerns a woman herself. If she’s not bothered by it, or if she still enjoys sex at times, but just does not actively pursue it, it wouldn’t be considered an issue.
On the other hand, a true case of low libido, or what doctors call Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, can have a variety of physical causes. Ovary removal and the lack of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone can diminish with natural menopause or other conditions.
Dealing with lower testosterone
Unfortunately, there is no FDA-approved way of giving women testosterone, the “hormone of desire” to women.
On a milligram per milligram basis, women actually have more testosterone than estrogen. Both the adrenal glands and the ovaries make testosterone.
Testosterone levels can plummet in women as they age, with ovary removal, or because of other medical conditions. It’s not just sex drive that can drop with low testosterone. It’s also muscle strength and energy levels.
One way around this problem is to use off-label testosterone. However, this requires great care because too much testosterone can lead to acne, hair loss, facial hair growth, aggressiveness and permanent voice changes. It’s important to work with a hormone expert to ensure the dosing is correct.
Currently, compounding pharmacies are the mainstay for testosterone or using 1/10 of a commercially available male preparation.