Dr. Cara Flamer – BioIdentical Hormone Therapy

Sex Drive – when there’s no more gas in the tank

Have you noticed that your sex drive is just not what it used to be?

I meet many women who tell me that their sex drive has reduced dramatically. Often these women are married or in long term relationships, and it affects their relationship with their partner. Their husbands/boyfriends may take it personally, or feel frustrated. Some of the women I meet will engage in sex anyways, for the sake of their partner (not wanting to hurt feelings) , while others just avoid it altogether. Either way, it can take a toll on the relationship and cause a strain that was never there before.

So the question is, what can be done to boost your sex drive? There are many things, but it depends on the reason why your sex drive is low to begin with. Here is a short list of some possible causes of low sex drive (this list reflects what I commonly see in my practice and isn’t an exhaustive list of all causes)

You are stressed.

Your body is smart. If you are going through stress, you may enter “fight or flight” mode. Your body basically goes into survival mode and directs all of its attention to helping you survive your daily life. When in survival mode, your adrenal glands have to focus on helping you cope and stay alive. Even though you probably aren’t being chased by a bear, the way you react to meeting deadlines/rushing to get things done/worrying about things may make your body feel that you are.

When stress hormones run high, your body will dramatically reduce its testosterone production, because it knows that sex is not a priority when you are fighting for your life. Testosterone is a hormone that plays a huge role in sex drive, so if it drops, you will likely experience low sex drive as a result. The effect of stress on testosterone is not something that would happen overnight thankfully, but if the stress is prolonged and you are constantly anxious/worried/wired/running on adrenaline, then this effect of reduced testosterone will likely occur.

Your hormones are out of balance

As stated above, testosterone is one of the major players in libido. If testosterone is low, more often than not, sex drive is low. There are other hormones that can cause a low sex drive too- for example, when estrogen is high, it can lead to an increase in something called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). Like the name states, SHBG binds things. It binds the excess estrogen present , AND it also happens to bind testosterone. Women on the birth control pill may experience a rise in SHBG, and they may notice their sex drive drops when they are on the pill. Other women not on the pill may have high estrogen for a number of other reasons (poor diet, nutritional deficiency, endometriosis- to name a few examples) and this may lead to the same effect.

Low progesterone can also play a role in low sex drive. If it is low as a result of stress or lack of regular ovulation, this will also lead to a relative excess of estrogen and also a possible decline in testosterone. This scenario can also cause your sex drive to drop.

You are on certain medications

Some medications can also drop your drive. As mentioned above, the birth control pill is one of them. Another type of medication that can do this are anti-depressants. Anti-depressants may affect your ability to orgasm- making it harder to achieve an orgasm- and also they can lower your desire for sex. Any medication affecting your testosterone level (eg. anti-androgen medications used in women with bothersome hair growth, opioids used for chronic pain) can cause your libido to drop.

You are unhappy in your relationship or in your life

Being unhappy and unsatisfied in life is definitely enough to cause you to lose excitement for sex. If you are feeling down in general, it can be hard to maintain positive feelings in other areas of your life. Our brains are funny this way, if we tend to think unhappy thoughts in one area, it leads to spill-over in other areas. So if someone is depressed, regardless of whether they are on an anti-depressant or not, they may experience low sex drive.

So what’s the solution?

The solution depends on the cause, naturally. Here are a few things you can do, based on the reason for the low sex drive.

You are stressed:

Anything that you can do to take the pressure off yourself and allow yourself to unwind, will be helpful. On a DAILY basis you should be taking time to breathe. Find time on a daily basis, even if its just for 10 minutes, to take your mind away from your stress. Dance/paint/exercise/journal/read/cook/…whatever floats your boat and makes you happy. Notice that TV is not included in this list! TV numbs you, it does not help awaken creative energy that can help you unwind in the way you need. Seek help from a professional if you need more support or feel unable to de-stress on your own.

Your hormones are out of balance:

If you suspect your hormones are out of balance, the best thing you can do is consult with a practitioner who specializes in this area. You can start by seeing your doctor, or you can pursue working with a naturopath or a bio-identical hormone doctor. You can work with a homeopath, holistic nutritionist or a TCM (traditional chinese medical) doctor. There are many ways you can get help with your hormones in a way that is supportive and gentle on the body. Sometimes all it takes is diet changes or a few herbs and the balance is improved.

You are on certain medications:

If you think it’s your medications that are affecting your sex drive, it is worth speaking to your doctor about this. There may be alternative medications that can help you but with less side effects in this area.

You are unhappy in your relationship or in your life:

If you are unhappy, the best gift you can give yourself is to acknowledge it and look for someone to help you. It is very hard for us to help ourselves when we feel down. Perhaps you would benefit from a someone to talk to (friend, therapist, spiritual therapist, doctor, etc). If it’s external factors that are affecting you, you can get help to deal with these. If your unhappiness is due to internal factors (eg .unhappy with yourself, feeling disconnected from your self or your purpose) than you need to find the right sort of person and inspiration to help you with this. The bottom line is YOU ARE WORTH THE EFFORT of facing and dealing with this. Once you begin to take steps to making things better for yourself, you may find your libido naturally returns to you.

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