If you have A LOW LIBIDO
After Gail Smith (not her real name) had a hysterectomy at age 52, her desire for sex plummeted. “My husband and I previously had a very active and pleasurable sex life, and we were both devastated,” she says. Prescription hormones provided little help. Finally, Smith’s doctor suggested the problem was “all in her head.” “I’m both a registered nurse and a psychologist. I know my body very well,” Smith says. “This was not psychological. I could feel it.” While it’s true that stress often causes loss of libido, so can hormone imbalances that result from antidepressant use, hysterectomy, hormonal birth control, pregnancy and perimenopause or menopause.
“The ovaries’ production of hormones actually begins to change in our 30s,” explains Genie James, M.M.Sc., executive director of The Natural Hormone Institute of America and co-author with gynecologist and compounding pharmacist C.W. Randolph, Jr., M.D., of the 2009 book In the Mood Again: Use the Power of Healthy Hormones to Reboot Your Sex Life—at Any Age. Starting then, she says, “Progesterone drops 120 times faster than estrogen, and when estrogen is dominant, low libido is a frequent result.” We still make testosterone, which helps fuel our sex drive, James adds, but we also make more sexual hormone-binding globulin, which prevents it from circulating in the body.
Use a nonprescription progesterone cream Those that contain progesterone that has been derived from soy and wild yam and converted into bioidentical progesterone help mitigate estrogen dominance when rubbed into the skin. Look for brands with 450 milligrams of USP progesterone per ounce, such as Emerita Paraben- Free Pro-Gest ($29 for 2 ounces; emerita.com) or Natural Woman Progesterone Cream ($27 for 2 ounces; pronature.com).
Try Femmenessence MacaHarmony, a potent form of maca. The Peruvian root helps stimulate the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands to support and balance your hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and thyroid. ($35 for a one-month supply; naturalhi.com)
Check out traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Low libido can be a sign of kidney yang defi ciency, says Phoenix-based Jamie Koonce, L.Ac., D.O.M., who recommends consulting a licensed TCM practitioner (fi nd one at nccaom .org) and trying Passion Potion by Sage Solutions or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang Jia Wei by Blue Poppy Herbs ($17 for 90 caplets). Her home remedy suggestion is to add fresh lychee and durian fruit to your diet. Acupuncture can also successfully treat a low libido, says Koonce.
Consider bioidentical hormones Gail Smith eventually found a solution for her low libido from a personalized regimen that included estrogen, testosterone and DHEA, a precursor to male and female sex hormones that’s secreted by the adrenal glands. She experienced some results immediately, and within a year her sex drive was back to where it had been. According to Genie James, personalization is the key to success. Bioidentical hormones, which have the same molecular structure as those naturally produced by your body, can restore optimum balance but only when they are compounded for your particular hormone levels, she explains.
Give aromatherapy a shot. Aura Cacia Love Potion essential oil could get your juices flowing. ($9 for 0.5 ounces; auracacia.com)
Get into therapy If body-image or relationship issues have caused you to lose interest in sex, you might want to seek therapy alone or with your partner. Locate a qualifi ed sex therapist at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (aasect.org).