Womens LOST Libido

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by Bettina Christian

Exhausted. Stressed. Lackluster. Add to this the
fluctuating hormonal levels associated with a multitude of
causes and you have a recipe for decreased libido.

There is good news, however

Sexual desire is an appetite, governed by multiple
biological and experiential factors. Consequently, a wide
variety of physical and psychological reasons can disturb
its functioning.

We all know when our libidos are high; however lost libido
and consequent sexual dysfunction affects most women at
some stage, as much as sexual dysfunction apparently
affects 50% of the male population at some time of their

Says well-known Christchurch gynaecologist and
obstetrician, John Doig, "I wish there was some way to
empower women to ask for help with their sexual problems.
Or even just ask for facts - ignorance is a big factor
where sexual satisfaction is concerned, and that applies to
both parties."

A specialist since 1979, Mr Doig has just about seen it
all. "Often patients will present with something else, the,
after some careful questioning, I find out what the real
issue is. Then we can do something, whether is hormone
replacement therapy - especially if the woman is peri-
menopausal or menopausal - or recommended psycho-sexual
counseling for both partners."

A somewhat controversial therapy, testosterone is
nonetheless also highly successful, Mr Doig points out,
adding that many of his patients have benefited greatly
from this form of hormone intervention.

Adds Mr Doig: "Essentially, the libido tends to diminish in
part due to oestrogen loss as women age. But there are
other contributing factors such as the daily demands, the
physical after-effects of childbirth, and post-natal

It's a multi-faceted problem that needs to be addressed at
both physical and psychological levels, Mr Doig
says. "Women should have the opportunity of enjoying sexual
relationships well into their 70s. There are several issues
involved when this doesn't happen and this needs to be
sensitively explored."

"Sex became a chore over the past few years until I
responded to HRT," says Natalie*, aged 63 and married for
34 years. "I would have tried anything, because I was
terrified my absent libido would result in my husband
running off with somebody else." He didn't, and she's just
added a genital gel to her bedroom routine. Does it
work? "I feel like a kid at the circus - and Bob's

Looking at the context in which women have learnt to accept
their sexuality, Christchurch-based psychotherapist Richard
Wheeler says that women's magazines are doing a great job.

"New Zealand culture is sex negative and needs to become
sex positive. I don't believe in quick fixes, but that's
what most patients expect. It takes a lot of commitment to
develop intimacy, to listen to one's partner, and love and
nurture ourselves and our relationships."

"I personally don't recommend manual aids," says Richard
Wheeler. "What I have found is that women respond well to
words and men like pictures, so I suggest that women
clients read books that will empower them and encourage
them to be creative about their sexuality. I've had
incredible feedback from women who discover that it's okay
to give themselves permission to enjoy their bodies, to
explore and understand their sexuality."

Dr Sue Badshaw is the Medical Training Co-ordernator for
New Zealand Family Planning Association, Southern Region,
and a counselor at the Youth Health Center,
Christchurch. "Libido issues are different for older and
younger women," says Dr Bagshaw. "For younger women there
are performance issues, because their world is dominated by
outcomes. Performance assessments at work are transerred to
sexuality, too.

"Also, we all know that different things turn men and women
on." Yes, these are vast generalisations," she agrees, but
valid nonetheless. There are also religious, cultural and
perhaps historical personal considerations. If there is
repressed anger or guilt about the past, then low libido
results. Attitudes and beliefs play an important part too:
women might not believe that they should not enjoy sex, for

"I grew up referring to my genitals as the part "down
there" and "between my legs", remembers
Diana*. "Considering that we didn't even use the right
terminology, it was not hard to make the association that
anything sexual was dirty." Having resorted to marriage
guidance counseling with her husband, Diana learnt to enjoy
her sexuality. "At the age of 54 I had my first orgasm!"
she declares, delighted. What changed? Diana bought a
topical gel that was recently released in Australia and New
Zealand. "It's turned my life around."

Sue Bagshaw adds, "Women need to learn to pleasure

Not everybody feels comfortable talking about their
sexuality, so it's important to find what works for you -
be it a book on the subject, gels, toys, or learning a new
way of relating through improved communication with you
partner. What we're talking about is quality of life.

And that's exactly what Dr Anna Fenton is concerned with.
Ditto sex therapist and psychologist Rosemary Smart.

Dr Fenton is an endocrinologist, specializing in women's
health, and is a past vice-president of the Australasian
Menopause Society.

"In America, the popular treatment for low libido in
menopausal women is what is called triple therapy:
treatment with oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
But it's multi-faceted, and more than just well-balanced
hormones are required."

Women need to address the stresses of their daily lives and
take a holistic approach that includes physical, emotional
and spiritual health, says Dr Fenton. "What I've found is
that Christchurch women are more proactive than their
national counterparts in terms of getting help that will
enhance their quality of life."

Dr Fenton notes a dramatic increase in the number of women
seeking help for meopause issues. "The treatment depends on
the individual, but I always start with a baseline hormonal
level assessment." As she points out, there is a lot of
misinformation out there, especially as regards androgen
replacement. "Properly monitored, testosterone therapy is
highly beneficial," she says, reinforcing what Dr Doig also
prescribes for patients.

"What we do is bring androgen levels back to normal, well
within the range of what should exist in a woman's body,"
says Dr Fenton. "You will not grow a beard or get acne if
your therapy is properly managed and tailored to your
needs! Doing whatever it takes makes sense for women who
are dealing with many issues in mid-life, including
decreasing libidos and hormonal inbalances."

Rosemary Smart is a Christchurch-based psychologist,
psychotherapist and social worker, with years of experience
as a specialist an the field of sex therapy. She's also
involved with assessments of transexuals for surgery, and
has appeared on TV documentaries in NZ as a sex therapist.

"Unfortunately, women's sexuality has been developed within
a male context," Mrs Smart points out. "And ultimately it
was decided that anything that didn't fit the male pattern
was dysfunctional. However, a lot of women are quite happy
to not have an orgasm - and it's only if the woman sees
this as a problem that it becomes a problem."

*Surnames have been omitted to protect the identity of
women interviewed for this article.

This article courtesy of http://www.health-dir.com. You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.


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