A lot of things factor into a woman’s decreased sexual drive: lifestyle, chronic disease and even medications.
In medical school, many physicians aren’t formally trained to ask women about their sex drive. (I know I wasn’t.) But it’s a topic I’ve started to include while I’m taking a patient’s general health history.
If you open up with questions, most patients are willing to talk about it. Many women ask why it occurs. And, more importantly, what can they do about it?
Here are a few of the factors that affect women’s sex drive.
• Lifestyle: A lot of women are working long hours, burning the candle at both ends, and they’re tired by the time they get home. Fatigue also is an important factor. Make it a priority to make time for yourself and your partner.
• Chronic disease: If somebody has chronic disease, such as diabetes or hypertension, medications sometimes can affect some of the aspects of libido, as well as just the chronic disease itself. With diabetes and hypertension, you have vascular constriction, so achieving orgasm can be more difficult.
• Prescription medication: If prescription drugs are affecting your sex life, talk to your psychiatrist or therapist about a “drug holiday.” You’re on your medication for a week, then you’re off for the weekend, when you can enjoy your partner. Then you can resume your medication the following week. But make sure you talk with your provider before you make any changes.
• Hormones: A lot of women will say “I need my hormones tested because I just don’t have a sex drive.” Testing hormone levels is not going to really tell us anything. And actually adding back hormone therapy does not increase the sex drive.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that will increase libido. There are some reports of testosterone helping, but in super-physiologic doses — the patch that is used for males — that will help with libido. However, that dose will cause a lot of unwanted side effects.
DHEAS has been shown to help with women who have an adrenal insufficiency syndrome.
• Psychological: Many women have experienced sexual, verbal or some other kind of abuse, so they need special counseling.
• Menopause: Sexual responses slow down when you get older. Yes, you can have an orgasm. Yes, you can have a wonderful sex life. But it’s going to take time. It’s going to take patience. It’s going to take more foreplay. And it’s going to take communication with your partner.Dr. Laura Sporl is an OB/GYN with MultiCare Health System. For more information, call 253-459-7699 or visit www.multicare.org/doctors/laura-sporl.