Low libido? Your gynecologist may have a solution

Approximately 30% of women deal with a decreased libido at some point in their lives, but many are either too embarrassed to talk about it or just don't think it's a big enough deal to discuss with their doctor.

Patricia Grade, MD, and Jennifer Simone, MD, gynecologists and independent members of the HonorHealth Medical Staff, often see women dealing with low libido and share what you need to know about this common concern.

Lack of libido isn't a one-factor issue

"Women in general can take on and expect too much of themselves," Dr. Simone says. "Finding balance and prioritizing self-care is an important part of addressing libido issues."

If you're dealing with low sex drive, there are many contributing factors, including:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Lack of sleep
  • Medications and supplements
  • Stress
  • Lack of nonsexual intimacy in the relationship

It's easy to think of libido as a light switch that can easily be turned on and off, but that's not the case. If you're a new mother, the postpartum period can be a trying time due to less sleep, lack of help around the house, self-confidence issues and anxiety.

Low libido? Your gynecologist may have a solution

Low libido may not be the issue

The mainstream introduction of libido therapies for men has made it very easy for men to "fix" many sexual health issues that occur with age through testosterone therapy or sildenafil. Dr. Grade argues that "because of this, women may experience even more guilt and stress for feeling like they can't match that same sex drive or 'fix' the same problem, but it's a false comparison."

Low libido also can be a side effect of an overall unhealthy lifestyle. If your desk job has you sitting most of the day, or you're grabbing fast food on the way to soccer practice, focus on making healthier lifestyle choices. They may help increase your libido.

Misconceptions and myths around hormone replacement therapy

You may have heard that hormone replacement therapy leads to serious adverse health effects, including cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, but this isn't necessarily true.

Practitioners today use bioidentical hormones that may not carry the same risks. Subsequent studies have shown that some of the possible issues, such as an increased cardiovascular risk, can be mitigated with regular exercise. This doesn't mean that hormone replacement therapy is totally risk-free. The decision to use hormones as part of a treatment plan for low libido needs to be an educated one you make with your doctor.

A relationship with your doctor is important

While your well-woman exam may not be something you look forward to, it's an important part of your overall healthcare. Telling your doctor that you're experiencing problems can open a helpful dialogue.

Here's how to get the most out of your visit:

  • Write down your questions beforehand. This will ensure that you won't forget important issues you want to discuss. It's easy for anxiety or embarrassment to take over, so having a written list will help you cover your main points.
  • Be prepared for more than one visit. It may take two to three visits to address all your questions and get things moving toward a more positive path. If you have topics you want to discuss at length, it may be helpful to ask if you can schedule a "question visit," instead of trying to squeeze everything in during your wellness exam.
  • Be open-minded. While doing research in advance is a great way to educate yourself, it's important to listen to your healthcare provider and review all possible options. This creates a true partnership where you can work together to make the right choices.

If you're experiencing low libido, various treatment options are available. Making an appointment with your gynecologist to discuss your questions and concerns is the first step.

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