Thursday, July 10, 2008

Natural Remedies for a Low Sex Drive

Many women in my clinical practice experience low to no sex drive at various times.

There are many factors that could potentially influence sex drive: menopause- related, other hormonal changes (often following pregnancy), medications (Prozac, Zoloft, Sertraline and others), depression, relationship issues, a chronic health problem, fatigue and more. In order to diagnose the cause correctly, your health professional would have to ask you many specific questions.

Hormone levels may have something to do with low sex drive, but doctors don't completely understand the exact role of testosterone and DHEA (another hormone) in determining a woman's sex drive. Your testosterone or DHEA levels may just be too low, or low-normal, and this would have a profound effect on your libido.

Ask your doctor to do a blood test of serum-free testosterone and serum DHEA. If these are low, or even on the lower range of the normal scale, prescribing these hormones might be in order. Testosterone is available as a "natural" testosterone (still prescription) and synthetic or methyl testosterone.

Oral supplementation daily and/or a 2% testosterone cream applied to the external genital area before sex (or 2-3 times a week) is another method, used to initiate a local response. DHEA is available over-the-counter in natural food stores. See your health care practitioner for the dosage that is right for you.

I would also recommend marital therapy. Counseling with someone who is skilled in sex therapy can also be helpful.

As for as aphrodisiacs go, natural, plant or nutritional remedies that address libido only, in the absence of any other issue, can be effective but not reliable. Improving dietary habits, increasing exercise and improving general health is fundamental. Individual ingredients that may have a positive effect include the herbs ginseng and damiana, and the supplements B vitamins, adrenal extracts and DHEA.

I urge you to check out two excellent books on the subject of libido: The Hormone of Desire, by Susan Mako, M.D., and The Alchemy of Love and Lust, by Dr. Theresa Crenshaw.

Seeking a homeopathic practitioner to prescribe a homeopathic remedy like Sepia, Naturm-mur, phosphoric acid and others can often be the key, and can be done in conjunction with other treatments. Acupuncture also can treat the loss of "jing" and of "vital heat."

Don't give up. This can get better.

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