No motivation to do the mattress mambo? There could be a lot of reasons your libido is low. One common culprit in women is low estrogen levels.
Estrogen, which is the primary female hormone, plays multiple roles in the context of female sexuality. It stimulates neurotransmitter systems in our brain that control desire, arousal, mood and excitation. Estrogen directly affects the vaginal and vulvar tissues, enhancing genital blood flow, nerve function, and tissue integrity thus maintaining the ability to lubricate and improve smooth muscle contractility. Lack of estrogen can occur in a natural menopause, and a surgical menopause where the ovaries have been removed, or for many other reasons, including the taking of medications such as oral contraceptives and chemotherapy and also adrenal, pituitary or hypothalmic problems. Consequences of lack of estrogen include vaginal pain, dryness, burning, loss of elasticity, mood changes as well as the hot flashes that occur day and night. These changes certainly can lead to decrease desire; who wants to have sex if it is painful?
It is hard to separate the role of testosterone in female sexual desire. There is strong evidence that the lack of testosterone can lead to decreased desire, energy, arousal and orgasm. Our estrogen is derived from testosterone so they go hand in hand. Our testosterone is produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands so any decrease in function of either of these two organs will cause a decrease in both testosterone and estrogen.
The solution? It is important that medications are evaluated as well as going over a medical history to make sure there are no underlying causes of the hormone deficiency. In postmenopausal women, hormone replacement may be indicated with or without testosterone. It is imperative that testosterone levels are checked. If the levels are too high, masculinization can occur, causing change in voice, hair growth, balding, increase muscle mass, change in lipid profile and increase in growth of the clitoris.
As estrogen is essential for female development, testosterone is essential for male development. It is the hormone which deepens a male’s voice, controls hair growth, increases muscle mass and is the drive that controls sexual desire. Low testosterone is only one factor of libido. As with a woman’s libido, for a man it is multifactorial too, including psychological as well as physiologic issues. Causes of low testosterone maybe because of aging, injury to testicles, testicular cancer, diabetes, thyroid or other hormonal problems, chronic liver or kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, medications and genetic conditions. Symptoms of low testosterone may include fatigue, depression and loss of libido.
Testosterone replacement may be indicated if the symptoms seem related to a low testosterone and there are no other factors involved. Risks of testosterone replacement include prostate growth, gynecomastia ( growth of breast tissue), fluid retention,liver problems, and polycythemia ( increase in red blood cell production). Men who have had prostate cancer or breast cancer (yes, men can get breast cancer) should never take testosterone.
If your sex life is lacking, don’t assume it can’t be helped. Talk to your doctor and you could be back in bed before you know it.
Courtesy of Center For Sexual Wellness.