One of my patients came to me last week complaining about his wife. He said she just wasn’t interested in sex anymore. He added, “After she turned 60, her desire for sex disappeared. Is there such a thing as a female Viagra?”
This is a question I get frequently from men who are having sexual difficulties with their spouse. It appears that sex is one subject most women hate to discuss with their doctors. Women over 60 may come to me for treatment of a physical nature but when it comes to sex, it usually boils down to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Sexual problems fall into a “quality of life” category verses one that is life threatening so it is a subject that is rarely talked about.
It is natural to assume that women over 60 no longer have a desire for sex because their production of estrogen has been dramatically reduced during menopause. At the same time, their ovaries decrease the production of testosterone, the hormone connected to sexual drive or libido. Although some women experience a drop in sexual desire after menopause it does not mean that their sexual relationships have to be less fulfilling.
Although sexual problems are not considered an illness you shouldn’t hesitate to get treatment if you are having symptoms. Even if there is no equivalent to Viagra for women, there are a number of natural remedies to help boost the female libido.
Increase Your Sex Drive Naturally
For many women over 60, vaginal dryness is a major problem that can cause discomfort during sexual intercourse. You may shy away from sex rather than find out what you can do to enjoy your body and your sexual desires. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your doctor about some of the treatments that are available including lifestyle adjustments, hormone therapy, and natural remedies.
There are many alternative treatments being researched to counteract the effects of menopause and increase sexual desire. Herbs with estrogen like properties that work to restore hormonal balance in women may be helpful in improving sexual ability and satisfaction.
• Natural Estrogen – known as phytoestrogens that can be found in certain foods. There are two types of phytoestrogens; isoflavones found in soybeans, chickpeas, and other legumes and lignans found in flaxseed, whole grains and some fruits and vegetables.
• Black cohosh – has long been used for treating menopausal symptoms in particular for the relief of hot flashes.
• Dong Quai – believed to increase libido and help prevent vaginal dryness
• Wild Yam – touted as a natural source of progesterone to improve vaginal dryness
• Shunthi – helps with sexual arousal by pumping blood to the genital areas of a female system
• Avena Sativa – helps to lower anxiety and improve sensitivity of female sex organs
• Chasteberry – boosts the body’s progesterone production and normalizes estrogen/progesterone ratio
• Other foods and spices – coffee, cola, and chocolate have reputations as libido-enhancers. Anise, fennel, sage and parsley are reputed to boost sex drive.
Overcoming a diminished sex drive is no different than dealing with most health problems. Following a healthy lifestyle by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exercising moderately, and cutting out saturated fats, will contribute to your overall feeling of well being. You may also find an increase in your libido as you gain the confidence to fully enjoy your own sexuality.
Low Libido Not True in All Women
Not all women over the age of 60 have unfulfilled sexual relationships. Since they no longer have to be concerned about having a monthly period or an unwanted pregnancy very late in life they can be more spontaneous. With the addition of herbal remedies and hormone therapy, women are learning to enjoy new found sexual freedom after menopause. Here are a few statistics that may surprise you.
• A study of 2,000 U.S. women ages 45-80 found 60 percent had been sexually active in the previous three months, researchers said.
• The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, also found 43 percent of the women reported at least moderate sexual desire, challenging conventional wisdom that women lose interest in sex due to their own physical problems.
• Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco said half of all sexually active participants described their overall sexual satisfaction as moderate to high. More than one-quarter of women age 65 years or older remained moderately or highly interested in sex, and more than one-third of women in this age group had been sexually active in the past three months.
• Among sexually inactive women in the entire group, 39 percent reported the most common reason was a lack of interest in sex, followed by 36 percent reporting lack of a partner, 23 percent citing physical problems of their partner and 11 percent saying there was a partner’s lack of interest.
Just because you are over 60 doesn’t mean you have to live with low sex drive. If you are suffering from vaginal dryness, hot flashes, or low libido, there are remedies out there that can help bring back enjoyment to your sex life. Join the ranks of the thousands of women over 60 who experience fulfilling sexual relationships. Remember to consult your doctor before taking herbal treatments as they may interfere or interact with other medications you may be taking.