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Sex in Menopause City

Study: Sexual Dysfunction in Women Is Not Automatic as Years Pass

Hormones and Your Sexual Thunder continued...

The fact that hormone levels decline as a woman ages further energizes the suggestion that replacing dwindling hormones is the road to postmenopausal nirvana.

And though testosterone, alone or with estrogen supplements, may prove helpful for some women, even some doctors involved in the testing of the new patch believe, as this new study indicates, that it will not be the panacea for all women experiencing sexual difficulties.

"You can have a woman with low testosterone switch to a new partner and suddenly her libido is just fine, or you can have a woman with great testosterone levels who is in a lousy relationship, or who is suffering from depression, and her desire is basically blotto," says endocrinologist Glenn D. Braunstein, MD, chairman of the department of medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and a prominent researcher involved in the recent clinical trials of the testosterone patch.

In the end, says Braunstein, the new sex study is valid, and he agrees that sexual dysfunction in women is "a multi-factorial issue" involving not only hormones, but also a host of other factors, including depression, a bad relationship, side effects of medication, and numerous life and job stressors.

"In and of themselves any one of these things may not make a difference, but put them altogether and you tip the balance enough to cause a real problem for some women," Braunstein tells WebMD.

Judith Reichman, author of I'm Not In the Mood: What Every Woman Should Know About Improving Her Libido, agrees, emphasizing that sexual problems can occur at any age and that women are not wired to be "passive victims of hormonal dysfunction."

"Yes, hormones matter, and in some women they can make some difference, but I think what this study really teaches us is that our sexuality is a many splendored thing, and when something goes wrong you can't say it's only hormones, or it's only self-image, or it's only the relationship. For women it's always a combination of factors, and a simple Viagra-like solution will never be the answer for us," says Reichman, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

As such, she tells WebMD that "a doctor has to look at and address all the possibilities because just throwing hormones at a patient and expecting that to do it all, well, that just doesn't do it."

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