Dr. Jennifer Landa wants to help jumpstart your libido. "I am very concerned when a woman loses interest in sex," she says. "I also understand how upsetting this can be. I truly lost my libido when I was 28. I was taking a birth control pill that played havoc with my hormones and as a resident I was working about 100 hours a week." This experience, plus her own understanding about the importance of hormones, made her focus in her Orlando, Florida practice on bioidentical hormone therapy, customized nutrition and fitness programs.
So why do women often lose interest in sex as they get older? "First of all, we can be distracted by many things in our world. Women have so many obligations. But a big part is a decline in hormones. I think the desire for sex is evolutionary in some ways. We have the greatest desire in our late teens and early twenties when we are most physically fit to reproduce. Even by your mid-thirties, and certainly in your forties and your fifties, you may lose some of that drive. But you can get a lot of it back, and for some women you can get the whole enchilada back with the use of hormones. And I mean the sex hormones of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone."
Men, she says, are simpler. They just need testosterone to boost their sex drive. "But women, as in so many things, are more complicated." Still, the conclusions of a major study several years ago suggested that taking estrogen after menopause was not a good idea. At one time women had been advised to take estrogen to cope with the symptoms of menopause as well as decrease the likelihood of heart disease. The study seemed to dispute those assumptions as well as point out that there could be an increased risk of breast cancer.
"One of the things that drives me in my practice is explaining that study and why it was a disservice to women," Dr. Landa says. "In the study, the estrogen that was given was Premarin, which was estrogen made from horses' urine, and the progesterone was artificial. I advise using estradiol, an estrogen, which is given through a patch in combination with natural progesterone."
"Of course," she continues, "women need individualized hormone therapy. But I do believe if a woman has such therapy, taking into account her medical history, she can feel better, look better, and have a more vibrant sex life." She also notes, "I am not sure I would give hormones to a woman over sixty who had never had them. But estrogen that is applied in a cream form to the vagina is very effective if a woman finds that sex hurts, and many women have that experience as they get older."
Dr. Landa has recently published a book, "The Sex Drive Solution For Women: Dr. Jen's Power Plan to Fire Up Your Libido," that includes her three-step, pro-libido lifestyle, nutrition and fitness plan. "Step one," she says, "is to avoid toxins and eat fresh foods. Focus on protein and fruits and vegetables. Avoid coffee and soda. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee a day. And eat small frequent meals to keep your energy up. Women who have a good libido have good energy and women who have good energy usually have a good libido."
Step two means keeping fit. "Use whatever workout plan you can handle, but yoga is especially good. " Certain moves and breathing techniques in yoga stimulate the genitals, while strength training raises one's testosterone level. Testosterone, Dr. Landa points out, is important for both men and women. Step three is stress management. "Stress is the biggest sex killer of all," she says.
She also suggests a libido challenge. "Two nights a month really have to be a date night. Use novelty. Do something new, either naughty or nice. Use a new massage oil, use a new sex toy, watch porn." And, yes, she recommends the new female-friendly erotic best seller "Fifty Shades of Grey." "I am reading the third volume. I have loved the other two. It really works!"
Myrna Blyth is editor-in-chief of ThirdAge.
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