Light Your Fire: How Ladies Can Revive Their Sex Drive



Remember that old commercial: “She can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan…and never, ever let you forget you’re a man…”?  It was a sign of the times—the women’s rights movement on the heels of the “free love” days.


Today’s version may go something like this: “She can bring home the take-out…drive the kids to the game.  Office work, plus the housework. How did life get so insane?” Notice that the man is long forgotten.


In the U.S., 40-50% of women report a lack of interest in sex.  And Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), or low libido, is the issue for 80% of women who seek sex therapy.


Why are the flames of passion fading for so many women and how can they be rekindled?


Women can lose interest in sex for physical and/or psychological reasons.  


After 40, most women have begun peri-menopause when their hormone levels are fluctuating.  This causes:


  • Reduced levels of estrogen, testosterone, or both--the hormones responsible for sexual interest, arousal, response, lubrication and orgasm.


  • Menopause symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, mood swings, vaginal dryness) making sex unthinkable.


  • Possible weight gain.  When women respond with chronic low-fat dieting, they deprive their body of lipids needed to make testosterone and other sex hormones.


Other physical reasons for loss of libido at any age include:


  • Hypothyroidism or anemia, which lowers energy levels.


  • Giving birth and newborn-care which produces extreme fatigue.  


  • Prescription drugs, including tranquilizers, birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy may lower libido as a side effect.


  • Stress, overwork, and lack of sleep result in reduced estrogen and testosterone levels, fatigue and lack of concentration.




Psychological reasons for lost sexual interest include:


  • Serious relationship problems with a partner.


  • Depression (including post-partum depression).  Some antidepressants have reduced sex drive as a side effect.  And untreated depression reduces libido.


  • Past sexual abuse or rape.  One in three women may have been a victim of sexual assault.  Unresolved issues can lower sex drive.


While there is not yet a Viagra for women--or a “magic pill” to get you back in the sack quicker than a hot flash-- several treatment options are available, depending on the cause of your problem.


See your doctor to address underlying medical conditions, to adjust prescription medications, and/or to refer you to a therapist.


Treatments options include:


  • Oral estrogen or patches. These relieve menopause symptoms. Side effects include increased risk of heart attack, stroke, breast and endometrial cancer and blood clots.


  • Estratest.  A combination of oral estrogen and testosterone, FDA-approved for treating hot flashes, but used off-label to improve sex drive. Side effects are the same as with oral estrogens, plus masculinizing effects such as unnatural hair growth, deepening of the voice, and decreased breast size.


  • Estrogen suppositories or creams. Applied directly to the vagina to soothe the tissue, encourage natural secretions and even boost libido. Topical options are considered safer than oral estrogens.


  • Testosterone creams or gels. Applied to the vagina and clitoris to increase sensation and orgasm.


  • Eros. A device that applies suction to the clitoris, increasing blood flow to the area and sexual desire.


  • Vitamin E. Available without a prescription.  Puncture a vitamin E capsule and apply the gel to the vagina several times a week to increase sensation and hydration. 


  • Zestra. A genital massage oil with natural botanicals including evening primrose oil and borage seed, clinically proven effective for sexual arousal. Potential interaction with other medications exists.


  • ArginMax. This herbal dietary supplement has been proven to increase women’s sexual desire. It contains ginko which can promote bleeding and may be contraindicated in someone on blood thinners.


Women are moving into the “sandwich generation”—still raising children and now caring for their aging parents.  Add the stresses of a job outside the home, and the caretaker’s own personal needs—and health—are easily neglected.  Sex isn’t even on the “to-do list.”


You can choose to do nothing about your libido.  Decreased sexual desire is a natural part of aging. 


However, if you do want to have a fulfilling sex life, you can begin by taking care of yourself and your relationship.


You can reclaim your sex drive. The time to hesitate is through.


Time to set the night on fire.