Sex is an important function of humans, and it is especially important to the relationships we form with our partners. But as we age our sex lives change, sexual desire becomes lower; erection potential and our ability to have orgasms decreases; and vaginas dry up.
For women, our sex drives often decrease after we have our last child, either by function of being too busy or a surgery that removed the important parts that contribute to sexual function, like ovaries.
For men, lack of sexual desire can occur later in life as their testosterone declines or the relationship starts to fail due to decreasing sex drive of either partner.
Sex was so simple when we were younger, we wanted it… we did it.
As we age, it’s harder to keep the spark going and sometimes our bodies don’t co-operate with our desire to have sex. Sex is a team sport, so in today’s column I will talk about men and women, then I will end with a discussion about ‘couplepause’ and why treating both partners is key to success.
Let’s start with women. As women age their desire to have sex decreases significantly. I can say with all honesty that almost 80 percent of the women I see tell me that they have little to no libido. Research studies find similar numbers. However, sex is still important for many women, and they want to get their groove back!
Unfortunately, they don’t have anyone to turn to and barriers exist to them finding answers to the sexual issues they’re facing. These barriers include health care providers feeling inadequate to address sexual health, a lack of information, concerns about self-confidence and offending others with questions, and stereotypes about age-appropriate behaviour.
It is okay for women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s to want to be interested in sex. In fact, it’s healthy. The World Health Organization recognizes female sexuality as a human right!
Ok, men; it’s about you too. As men age their desire and ability to have sex decreases. Men are less eager to share this problem with their health care provider and often seek advice from internet sources. The testosterone booster supplement market in the US pulls in over $300 million a year and that number is growing.
Erection and libido concerns for men can be caused from other conditions, such as heart disease and/or diabetes. Addressing these underlying conditions is an important first step, but if the condition continues despite medication therapy, it is important to review the man’s hormone panel.
Low testosterone leads to low sex drive, an inability to have an erection, and lower orgasm potential. The best solution for this is testosterone supplementation, typically in the form of a cream or gel.
For women, three hormones matter for sex drive and vaginal health: estrogen, testosterone, and DHEA (A long name for an important hormone we will talk about in a future column). For men, testosterone is the key ingredient for sex drive and penis performance. So, BHRT (Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy) is a team sport.
Most often after I treat one partner in a relationship, the other gets encouraged and comes on board too. Sometimes the couples I see begin treatment together and the improvements they see in their lives are remarkable. This is where the ‘couplepause’ comes in to play.
‘Couplepause’ is a term used to describe the time in a couple’s relationship where both are suffering with symptoms of menopause and andropause. Some couples find this time acceptable; others intolerable, and in some relationships only one partner is frustrated. Unfortunately, sometimes this frustration can lead to divorce or continuing in an unhappy relationship.
There is treatment, again I urge readers not to suffer in silence. Feel the fear of reaching out to try something new, it just might answer the questions you have.
Sex is an important human function; too often healthcare professionals don’t talk with patients enough about sex as a function of our health. For many, having a healthy sex life is vital to life satisfaction, others are happy with abstinence and that’s good too. If you are looking to improve your sexual desire and function, reach out for a consultation.
Tammy O’Rourke is a Nurse Practitioner with a Ph.D. in Nursing. She spent the first 20 years of her career in primary care. About seven years ago she started having symptoms of several hormonal imbalances, for which her doctor prescribed medications to address anxiety, depression, and sleep issues. These medications left her feeling numb, more tired, and angry at a system that wasn’t addressing the root cause. Tammy was in perimenopause, that 8–10-year period before menopause that leaves women feeling tired, out of control, moody, lacking in self-confidence, and unwell.
She made the move to invest in her health and discovered bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, which helped significantly with her symptoms. So much so that she decided to learn more about hormones. She became certified in the United States through World Link Medical and she has been helping men and women with their hormone problems for more than four years. Tammy is passionate about her hormone practice and continues to help women and men across the country.
She recently relocated to Cape Breton Island with her husband, who grew up in The Pier.