Whether your sex drive is low or raging out of control, The Doctors provides helpful advice on how to better bond with your partner in the bedroom.
OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson advises that first and foremost, a woman should always talk to her gynecologist to rule out any hormonal or physical issues. Certain medications or medical conditions can contribute to low sex drive, so be sure to see your doctor to rule out those factors.
A woman's sex drive can be affected by age, hormones and childbirth. "We don't have a little blue pill to help with libido, and libido is a huge issue for women," Dr. Lisa says.
“It’s very common, after a woman has children, for her sex drive to decrease,” psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell says.
Dr. Hollowell’s Tips on How to Rekindle the Flame
• Stay out of the “job of sex” mindset; don’t make sex a chore
• Stay out of an agenda-driven mentality
• Switch from “Mommy mode” into “sexy wife mode”
• Wait until the kids have gone to bed, then have a glass of wine and relax
• Slow down and ease into it
• Get a babysitter and have a date night
• Put romance back into your relationship
Adding certain foods and supplements to your diet can improve your sex drive and get your engines revved in the bedroom again. Adequate sleep, regular exercise and a healthy diet are critical to boosting libido.
“I cannot say enough about omega fatty acids,” sexual health expert and urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman says. “Not only are they extremely important to health and wellness, but sexual health. They improve libido and have been shown in placebo-controlled trials to improve mood.”
• Omega fatty acids
• Leafy greens
• Fruits such as blueberries, cranberries and raspberries (also high in antioxidants)
• B-complex vitamins
Some physicians prescribe testosterone drops to some of their female patients who suffer from low libido. However, the drops are not yet FDA-approved for women, nor are they available over the counter.
“You have to go to a doctor who knows about compounding hormones and knows how to prescribe it; the drops can be given in the form of a cream, lozenge or liquid,” Dr. Berman explains.
Some over-the-counter remedies to amp up your sex drive include black cohosh, an herb often used to alleviate menopausal symptoms and that is especially helpful for women who have low levels of estrogen, and L-arginine cream, a vaginal cream that increases blood flow. Always check with your doctor before taking any of these remedies.
• "Love potion" to boost libido?
• How anti-depressants affect libido
• How hearing affects libido
• How smell affects libido
How Birth Control Affects Libido
“Birth control pills can sometimes decrease libido,” Dr. Lisa says. “Some of the progesterones can have some of that male, testosterone-like, extra oomph there. So I would say to talk to your doctor, always tell them, because we have different tricks up our sleeves as far as birth control pills are concerned.”
Sex Drive and Menstruation
Dr. Lisa explains that a woman's sex drive is directly linked to her hormone levels. Some women will have a higher libido during their menstrual cycle, and some will find that arousal peaks during ovulation.
The hormone estrogen is the driving force behind carnal cravings, and estrogen levels are highest during ovulation.
During menstruation, women produce higher levels of testosterone, which can stimulate sexual arousal. In addition, estrogen produced during a woman's period increases genital sensitivity. "Orgasms can actually help with cramps," Dr. Lisa adds. "It can be a fantastic time."
The Sex Patch
The loss of libido and menopause go hand in hand for millions of women. A new product, however, may change that. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine says a testosterone patch may help post-menopausal women rediscover their sex drive. “As you get post-menopausal, what happens is not only your estrogen goes down, but also your testosterone,” Dr. Lisa says. “And the testosterone gives you that lovin’ feeling.
“[The patch] can really help a lot of women,” she continues, “because libido, or that sexual desire, really does a lot for a woman’s self image, and when that goes down, she can get depressed, she can feel bad about her body.”
The patch is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but Dr. Lisa says it has “big potential.”
Treatment for Vaginal Dryness
Estrogen keeps the vagina moist, elastic and lubricated. As a woman approaches menopause, her estrogen levels decrease rapidly, causing vaginal dryness. Vaginal rings, suppositories and creams contain estrogen that can help lubricate the vagina and restore sexual health.
Vitamin E oil can also be used to improve vaginal lubrication.
“You can use it locally in the vagina, simply by applying some of the oil directly, even if you’re not planning on having sex,” Dr. Lisa says. “But this shouldn’t be the only thing you’re trying; you should also use the lubricant of your choice during sex. Vaginal dryness can have several causes including hormones and age, but if it’s a persistent problem, definitely bring it up with your gynecologist.”
Vasectomies and Sex Drive
Does having a vasectomy increase or decrease a man's sex drive? Although there is no physical correlation between a vasectomy and an increase in libido, many men report experiencing it. "Speaking from personal experience," pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says, "[the sex drive goes] through the roof!
"It's a little nerve-wracking having the scalpel going down in that direction," Dr. Sears continues. "But later on, when things are healed up, and you know there's very little chance of pregnancy, you're like, 'Whoo-hoo!'"
Check out the no-needle vasectomy!
Spring Fever: Fact or Fiction?
The Doctors address whether spring fever is a true condition or just an old wives' tale.
Dr. Lisa explains that when days start to get longer, the retinas in our eyes become sensitive to the variations in sunlight, leading to hormonal changes that decrease melatonin and heighten libido and energy. This is why our spirits are lifted during springtime. Studies have also shown that a man's sperm count increases between March and May.
While our energy naturally increases during the vernal season, ER physician Dr. Travis recommends staying active during the winter months to feel even better when spring arrives.
• Climate can take a toll on your mood. Learn more about seasonal affective disorder (SAD).