Posted 8/31/2017 by UHBlog
A common complaint among men and women is a lack of sexual intimacy. In fact, more than 40 percent of couples think their sex life could be better.
According to the Endocrine Society, about 5 percent of men have decreased libido, a condition that increases with age. Likewise, 40 percent of premenopausal women have lost desire, says psychologist Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, and about 10 percent of these women are bothered enough to do something about it. In postmenopausal women, the numbers are even higher, with approximately 50 percent of women reporting loss of or low libido.
"Turn to the back of any women's magazine or visit a website dedicated to women – or men for that matter – and you will find all kinds of ads for products to fix sexual function," Dr. Kingsberg says. "People spend millions of dollars on unproven ‘snake oils’ or fall prey to charlatans out of desperation to find the solution to their sexual problems."
Sometimes, low libido is a temporary condition caused by external factors. For instance, cold feet due to the temperature in the room, clutter in the room or your distraction because you have too many things on your plate. More frequently, the persistent loss of sexual desire stems from an imbalance in brain chemistry or as a consequence of physical, psychological or interpersonal issues, Dr. Kingsberg says.
Some of those problems are fallouts from medical conditions that can affect both men and women, including:
- Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Side effects of medications
- Excessive alcohol usage
Other sexual issues are gender-specific. For men, a common complaint is erectile dysfunction that may have a downstream negative effect on sexual interest. For women of all ages, the most common sexual dysfunction is hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which is the persistent loss of sexual interest or desire.
In postmenopausal women, other conditions besides HSDD can cause their interest in sex to wane. Many postmenopausal women lose interest in sex if they are experiencing pain due to vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA), a component of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) caused by thinning of the vaginal tissues from the loss of estrogen after menopause.
"All of these conditions are treatable," Dr. Kingsberg says. "The important thing for couples to realize is that they do not need to suffer in silence."
That's why it's important to talk to your health care provider about your sexual concerns, she says.
"The smart couple who have maintained a healthy sexual life in a long-term relationship know that passion isn’t as easy as it was in the courtship phase," Dr. Kingsberg says. "They realize the quality of their sexual relationship takes time, effort and focus – and that's the key."
Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, is an expert in sexual medicine and Division Chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital. You can request an appointment with Dr. Kingsberg or any other doctor online.