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Health & Sex

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Why Women Lose Interest in Sex

Putting the Desire Back in Women's Sex Lives continued...

Once the factors causing low sexual desire have been determined, potential treatment options may include:

  • Sex therapy and/or relationship counseling. "Sex therapy is very effective for individuals and couples, and that is always at the top of my list," says Shifren. Sexual dysfunction usually affects both parties in a relationship and should be discussed together or individually with a mental health professional.
  • Changing medications or altering the dose. If the problem is caused by medications, a change of prescription or alternative therapies may be recommended. If an oral contraceptive is suspected as the culprit in lowering testosterone levels, a different formulation or nonhormonal birth control methods may be prescribed.
  • Addressing underlying medical conditions. Medical problems contributing to low sexual desire may require surgical treatment, such as the removal of painful fibroids or medication.
  • Vaginal estrogens. In postmenopausal women, vaginal dryness may be treated with vaginal estrogen creams.
  • Testosterone therapy. Although no hormone or drug has been approved by the FDA to treat sexual problems in women, many gynecologists recommend off-label uses of testosterone therapy for women with low sexual desire to restore testosterone to normal (pre-menopausal) levels.

In addition, several therapies involving testosterone pills or skin patches specifically designed to treat female sexual problems are currently being studied in hopes of FDA approval in the near future.

For example, Shrifen is involved in research using a testosterone skin patch to treat low sexual desire in women. Initial studies have shown that the patch significantly improved both sexual desire and satisfaction compared with placebo among postmenopausal women who had their ovaries removed.

She says a phase III clinical trial of the testosterone patch involving several thousand women worldwide is currently wrapping up, and results should be published soon. For the first time, this study looks at the effect of the testosterone patches in naturally menopausal women as well as those who have undergone surgical or early menopause caused by chemotherapy or removal of their ovaries.

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