Kick-starting your sex drive

February 11, 2010 4:27:42 PM PST
Sex drive in low gear? What you can do to tune up your engine and how to know when a low libido might mean something more.

Between 40 and 50 percent of women report these kind of sexual problems at some point in their lifetime. And, there are both over the counter and prescription medications and devices that may help women increase libido.

Q&A with Dr. Jennifer Gunter:

Is loss of interest in sex common?

Between 40 and 50 percent of women report these kind of sexual problems at some point in their lifetime

Is there anything you can do to rev things up in time?

Dr. Jen: The first thing you need to do is figure out if not wanting to have sex is a libido problem or a relationship issue. I always tell people to do the George Clooney Test? If all your life problems were to vanish and George Clooney were to whisk you away to his Italian Villa would that affect your desire?

If so, then your may have a relationship issue. However, if you don't have any fantasies about having sex at all then you may be looking at a libido issue.

So if there are relationship issues what should you do?

Dr. Jen: The first thing is to look at the intimacy in your relationship. Do you touch, hold hands, and cuddle? If the answer is no, not much, then you need to work on bringing intimacy back, because for most people it is impossible to go from 0 to 60.

The second issue is communication. How do you communicate about the state of sex in your relationship or even how you communicate at all? You have to learn to open the lines of communication.

If you find that is difficult sometimes you can get good scripts from self-help books on relationships and some people may even need a counselor to help re-establish good communication. Without communication one partner may feel they are doing more than their fair share at home and that can lead to a further breakdown in communication, resentment, anger, which can simmer and leave you not wanting to be intimate. Many women like to say that foreplay begins when you wake up in the morning.

What if it is a libido issue?

Dr. Jen: Ask yourself if sex is satisfying or if it hurts? If sex does not lead to orgasm or if it hurts you may, understandably so, be less interested. The first step to orgasm is foreplay and the second is location, location, location (getting stimulation where you need it). This takes communication, a woman has to communicate with her own body so she knows what feels good and she has to be able to communicate the information with her partner.

So making sex better is a way to want it more, because we obviously prefer to do things we like. For couples having problems achieving sexual satisfaction there are many books to turn to or even a sex therapist. I have also included a link to really good article from Men's Health Magazine that I advise women and their partner's to read.

If you have a hard time telling your partner what you like or maybe are not too sure what to suggest give this a read because it is quite detailed. Medications can also affect libido and obviously if sex hurts you should see your doctor.

Any tips for a couple that are in a bit of rut?

Dr. Jen: People can get into the habit of not having sex. In this case the homework is to have sex. I know, that sounds sort of obvious, but try to have sex more often (be specific about that because more often means different things to different people). Studies show that if sex is satisfying, the more sex you have the more you will want to have.

You also have to work at your intimacy, simple things like just touching, hugging kissing? showing a little tenderness even if one of you may not be feeling that way can help move the relationship along towards more sexual intimacy.

What about medications, are there any drugs that can help?

Dr. Jen: Well, if we have established that it is not a relationship issue there are some things that some women find beneficial. An over the counter supplement called Arginmax helps some women, a topical product called Zestra can also help improve libido and orgasm.

Women who have trouble climaxing can also consider a prescription product called Eros, a suction device that draws more blood into the clitoris.

After menopause some women may need some estrogen if they have a lot of vaginal dryness and for some post-menopausal women testosterone can help, although there are some serious risks to consider, such as an increased breast cancer risk, and it is certainly not a cure all.

If you are on an antidepressant you might ask you doctor, if your depression and medical condition permits, to consider switching to a libido friendly antidepressant, such as Wellbutrin.

About Dr. Jennifer Gunter:

Dr. Gunter is a nationally and internationally renowned obstetrician/gynecologist and a leading expert in the field of sexual health. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has published extensively in medical journals.

Click here to read a great article in Men's Health about advice for achieving orgasm (written by a female sex therapist)