Hormones may not be the factor in low sexual desire in womenWritten by Lori Hollander | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When sexual desire fades for a woman, a question often arises. Could hormones be responsible? And if so, might a pill be available to remedy the problem?
The pharmaceutical industry has been searching for more than a decade for the holy grail of sexual medication, a female version of Viagra. The market for so-called “female sexual dysfunction” is estimated at $2 billon.
To be sure, the loss of sexual desire is widespread, with 23-52% of women reporting this problem. Clearly, many women want and need help as both personal distress and relationship upset is often significant.
And big pharmaceutical companies have tried like crazy to provide that help, though so far, to no avail.
The first “Female Viagra” drug flopped earlier this year, failing to increase desire for women. Now, many are still turning to testosterone supplements.
Although positive results for testosterone had been hyped, the supporting research had focused only on small subsets of women such as women whose ovaries had been removed while evidence of effectiveness remains inconclusive for women at large.
And the risks to women are significant. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that women with high testosterone levels are three times more likely to get heart disease that those with normal levels, and associations with increased breast cancer risk are still unclear. For those reasons, the FDA advisory committee unanimously denied approval back in 2004.
Yet these concerns have not stopped physicians from prescribing testosterone “off-label” (giving testosterone intended for men to women) to more than 1.8 million women with low desire. As CFO of BioSante (manufacturer of testosterone gel) Phil Donenberg told the Associated Press, “Doctors are willing to write prescriptions for testosterone off-label and women are willing to take it.”
Some have criticized the FDA denial for leaving women without needed care. But searching for care in the medicine cabinet may not be the most helpful place to start.
While future potential may exist to help a larger population with medication, there are many critical issues contributing to low sexual desire other than hormones. Too much focus on the chemistry involved may distract people from real underlying reasons that often account for most of the problem.
As a sex therapist specializing in helping clients turn low sex/low excitement relationships into fulfilling intimacy, I first look for reasons for loss of sexual desire that rarely have to do with hormones.
And I rarely meet a couple with desire problems in which at least one of these issues is not wrecking havoc.
A sense of obligation, exhaustion, feeling unappreciated, focus on performance rather than intimacy, and emotional disconnect, among others, are often responsible for obliterating feelings of sexual desire for women.
Our fast paced lifestyle encourages the idea that intimacy can be squeezed into leftover scraps of time. For example, common advice given to mothers with low libido says, “Use the baby’s nap time for a quickie!” Many men might say, “I’ll take it!” but it feels too mechanical for many women who crave time to relax, connect, and linger.
In other words, many women don’t simply lose sexual desire because their bodies fail them. More precisely, women lose sexual desire because the sexual relationship is occurring in a context that is not working for them.
But as I see with my clients, the desire for real intimacy is still very present. And I find that the majority of couples are fully able to experience a beautiful spark again once they know where to focus their energies.
Helping couples create an intimate lifestyle means reducing adherence to obligation and performance focused models of sex and instead broadening the palette for sensual connection. Creating an environment in which physical affection can flow freely without signaling sex creates more room for intimate touch that both people tend to deeply enjoy. And when couples learn skills to help them listen more closely and share feelings honestly, they feel intimately understood and connected, becoming better lovers throughout the relationship and in the bedroom.
For several quick ideas, please see, Toledo Free Press – Ways to keep the flame alive
Perhaps pharmaceutical companies will eventually develop a pill that helps when medical problems genuinely account for low libido.
But if real intimacy is the goal, then there is no need to wait.