Prescription for Passion

By Dr. Sharon McQuillan
Posted On Sep 27, 2016
Prescription for Passion

It’s 10 pm. you just finished cleaning the kitchen after a late dinner that followed your son’s soccer game. The kids are studying in their rooms, and you’ve put another load of laundry in the washer. Suddenly, your partner sneaks up behind you and gives you the squeeze, the universal signal for sex, then heads to the bedroom. Exhausted, you look for something else to do so he’ll fall asleep before you arrive.

You love your husband. You just have no interest in sex. If this sounds like a typical night in your house, you are not alone. According to a New York Times report, 30 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 60 experience extended periods of time during which they have no desire for sex.

Many women accept the libido loss as a reality of aging. “Losing your libido is not a normal part of getting older. Women need to know that low sex drive is fixable,” says Dr. Jennifer Landa, OB-GYN, chief medical officer of BodyLogicMD, and author of The Sex Drive Solution for Women. Unlike with men, whose loss of libido is tied directly to physical factors such as erectile dysfunction, women’s declining sexual interest (technically termed hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD) is multifactorial in origin. A combination of physical and psychological factors are at work.

Fortunately for you and your romantic partners, there is much promise to be found in the field of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). The restoration and regulation of your hormones is an important step toward restoring your sex drive.

passion-02BRING BACK THAT LOVING FEELING

Libido means the physical desire for sex. Nowhere within its definition does it imply that women no longer love their mates when the sexual appetite wanes. There are likely many physiological factors at work. “Ninety-eight percent of sex happens in the mind,” remarks Dr.Landa. Dr. Eva Cwynar, endocrinologist and author of The Fatigue Solution, concurs.”Your brain is the most important sex organ,” says Cwynar. “If your brain is not in the moment, the rest of you will not be, either.”

Hormones impact the physiological side of desire. There are three hormones directly related to libido, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The hormones related to sexual response are oxytocin, thyroid, and cortisol. If these hormones are out of balance, libido loss may result.

Estrogen is the driver of many functions within the female body, including bone health,energy, and sexual function. When estrogen levels are thrown off, anxiety, insomnia, and vaginal dryness or atrophy can result. Progesterone balances estrogen, decreasing anxiety and preventing water retention. Low progesterone can lead to chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. Testosterone is directly responsible for physical arousal in both males and females. “Testosterone is the key to libido,” says Dr. Cwynar. A low libido indicates low testosterone.

Thyroid is not a sex hormone per se, but thyroid hormone regulates metabolism, which, in turn, affects the libido. Cortisol, the stress hormone, helps bodies adapt to stressors by increasing heart rate and blood flow to our muscles. Excess cortisol (or too much stress prompts adrenal fatigue, which can lead to a host of medical issues. Oxytocin, a cortisone balancer, is released during orgasm and is often referred to as the cuddle hormone. The more oxytocin in your body, the higher your libido.

SEXUAL HEALING

You may be wondering what can actually be done about balancing hormonal hydraulics. Hormones are just one piece of the puzzle. A handful of usual suspects could be contributing
to a curtailed interest in intercourse. These include a poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, alcohol consumption, and drug use (of prescription and recreational varieties).

Oddly enough, the more  you exercise, the less tired and stressed you will be. Vigorous activity releases endorphins (our feel good chemicals), improves circulation, and bolsters self-esteem. These positive responses make us more open to desire. Sleep is also key. Six to eight hours per night recharges the brain and helps you get in touch with your senses. These allow your libido to develop.

A whole-food diet (without white flour or white sugar) encourages sexier impulses. Processed foods with lots of refined sugar, refined flour, preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors cause spikes in blood sugar. Continual spikes make our body complacent to sugar rushes. This leads to insulin resistance, causing fatigue and weight gain (both of which squash sexual desire).

Prescription medicines, recreational  drugs, and alcohol are major players in the cooling down of passions. The prescriptions most often linked to a decreased libido are birth control pills and medications that regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and insomnia.

Here’s the breakdown: Birth control pills increase the release of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a molecule that binds to testosterone in a woman’s body, resulting in decreased libido. Beta-blockers, prescribed for high blood pressure, impact sexual appetites  because of their effect on blood flow. Statins are medications used to control cholesterol levels, and cholesterol is an important component of hormones responsible  for sexual arousal. As statins block cholesterol production, lower testosterone levels result. Medications for anxiety, depression, ADHD, and insomnia impact neurotransmitters  responsible for sex drive.

Many will argue that drinking and drugging offers a looser libido. Marijuana may indeed lower inhibition, but it’s also known to deplete testosterone. Alcohol is perhaps the most popular (and mythic) route to a freer spirit, yet studies show that it interferes with arousal, not to mention the ability to achieve orgasm, when taken in excess.

UPPING YOUR ANTE

Many things can bring your libido back to life. A healthy diet, stress reduction, sufficient sleep, and hormone balancing pave the way to sexier nights. Supplements may also help to rekindle your desire. Sexual wellness hinges upon proper blood circulation, so most libido-related supplements focus upon improving circulation.

Arginine: This amino acid is the building block for nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide improves circulation, which in turn leads to increased arousal or libido.

Damiana: This South American plant is used as an herbal remedy for male infertility, anxiety, and menopause symptoms. Damiana contains compounds that influence hormones responsible for our libido.

Epimedium: This popular Chinese herb, also known as horny goat weed, is used to treat erectile dysfunction and menopausal symptoms. Animal studies show that it increases genital blood flow in the same manner as Viagra.

Ginseng: This herb used to strengthen body systems is often prescribed for sexual dysfunction in Chinese medicine. Ginseng is thought to increase the levels of nitric oxide in the genital area.

Tribulus: A dietary supplement used to enhance sex drive, tribulus is thought to increase testosterone levels in women without causing masculine side effects.

DHEA: This hormone is released by the body during sex and is a necessary component for testosterone production. DHEA has been clinically shown to fight depression and decrease cortisol production.

5-HTP: Found in the seeds of the African plant Griffonia Simplicifolia, serotonin precursor 5-HTP comes from the amino acid tryptophan (which is famous for making you sleepy after Thanksgiving turkey). Serotonin regulates anxiety, sexual behavior, sleep, and depression.

BRINGING SEXY BACK

A lost-without-a-trace libido doesn’t have to be a part of the aging process. The methods outlined are great ways to start getting your groove back. Meanwhile, focus and clear communication with your partner will help the process along. “Being in the here and now is very important in recapturing a woman’s libido,” insists Dr. Landa. “Women need to embody sensuality using all of their senses. The true driver of your libido is your mental health state and your feelings for your partner.” Dr. Cwynar is quick to remind us of the connection between happiness and health: “An active sex life is a form of health insurance.” At  last, a health care plan we can all afford.

OUR EDITOR’S PICK

ArginMax (arginmax.com) is an over-thecounter supplement blend of arginine, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and damiana. Clinical studies showed a 70.6 percent improvement in sexual desire and a 47.1 percent improved frequency of orgasm in subjects tested, when compared to placebo.


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