Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Science of Desire: How to Get Your Sex Life Going Again

Once you reach a certain age, you almost feel like saying “goodbye” to your sexual wellbeing. Your body does not respond to sex in the same way it did when you were younger, and so you find other aspects of your wellness – such as your self-esteem and connection to your partner – waning. However, there are scientifically-proven ways to get your sexual health back on track, no matter your age, so how can you get back into the saddle, so to speak?

1. Low testosterone: While we tend to think of testosterone as a male hormone, small amounts fuel a woman’s sex drive. However, when you go through menopause, your testosterone starts to decline, and your desire plummets with it. This is especially noticeable if you’re also using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The first think you need to do is talk to your gynaecologist and get a blood test, and then stabilise your testosterone. Studies have shown this impact all areas of sexual wellness, from lubrication to stronger, more powerful orgasms. So, how do you do it?

Doctors sometimes prescribe testosterone gel, but you may be concerned that it will make you grow hair on your chin or give you huge muscles. However, Anita Clayton, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Virginia and author of Satisfaction: Women, Sex, and the Quest for Intimacy, explains, ‘The doses prescribed for women aren’t large enough to stimulate male characteristics.’ Certified sex researcher Beverly Whipple, PhD, professor emerita at Rutgers University and co-author of The Science of Orgasm, recommends libido-boosting herbs, such as ArginMax for Women. This nutritional supplement – which contains ginseng, ginkgo, multivitamins, and minerals – improves your sexual desire, including clitoral sensation and orgasm frequency, by up to 74%.

2. Distraction: While women are known to be good at multi-tasking, going over your shopping list during sex is probably not the best way to get into the moment. Research has shown that women’s brains are naturally more active than men’s, even during sex, due to lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Clayton comments, ‘Dopamine creates the desire to go after a reward—in this case, an orgasm.’ Dopamine also plays an important role in increasing the flow of sensory impulses to the genitals, which is essential for arousal. Therefore, low levels of dopamine can distract you during sex.

If you get distracted during sex, you might want to get yourself tested for attention deficit disorder (ADD). Daniel G. Amen, MD, a psychiatrist, brain imaging specialist, and author of Sex on the Brain, notes that ADD may be associated with low dopamine levels. However, he says the good news is that ‘when a woman is finally treated for ADD, usually with a combination of drug therapy and behaviour modification, it improves her sex life—not to mention the rest of her life as well.’ Another option is to try a DHEA supplement, which may increase your production of dopamine and tends to spike right before you have orgasm to enhance desire and focus. However, Clayton warns that DHEA can affect some people’s cholesterol levels, and recommends no more than 25mg to 50mg, so check with your doctor before taking it.
3. Dryness: If it’s dry down below, sex can be the last thing you want. The lining of your vagina is extremely sensitive to oestrogen, which means it becomes less sensitive as you age your body starts producing less oestrogen during perimenopause. Some women turn to hormone therapy for help, but there are other solutions available. Whipple advises you use a lubricant that goes straight to the source, such as Zestra. This is a non-prescription feminine arousal fluid made from botanical oils, which stimulates your nerves and blood vessels to increase arousal. Whipple adds that insertable vaginal oestrogen rings or tablets can significantly improve lubrication without the risks of oral hormone therapy, such as increased breast cancer risk.
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The Science of Desire: How to Get Your Sex Life Going Again