Sexual dysfunction is reaching levels not seen since the Victorian period. But today’s difficulties stem not from the inhibiting power of social mores and taboos. Today’s sexual dysfunction is an alarming indicator of the hormonal status of women and men. A recent study found that 31 percent of men suffer from problems such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation and impotency. A whopping 43 percent of women reported problems such as loss of desire, decreased arousal, inability to have an orgasm and painful intercourse. Amazingly, only 12 percent of these women said they were concerned about their declining sexuality.
The study, led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital found this disheartening information by surveying 32,000 women across the U.S., age 18 to older than 100. The researchers asked the women standardized questions about their sexual health, and used a Female Sexual Distress Scale to quantify the women’s levels of concern about their diminishing sex lives. The scale was designed to assess feelings of unhappiness, anger, guilt, embarrassment, frustration, and worry.
43 percent of all the respondents reported some level of sexual dysfunction, 39 percent reported lack of desire, 26 percent reported arousal problems, and 21 percent had difficulty reaching orgasm. The study’s lead doctor reported belief that sexual problems are commonplace among women, while problems of personal distress related to the sexual dysfunction can affect a woman’s quality of life. He reported belief that a sexual concern is not a medical problem until it is associated with distress, an opinion that reflects the inability of traditional doctors to realize that sexual problems do not exist in a vacuum but are symptomatic of hormonal decline and imbalance and perhaps also poor overall general health.
Responses were often characterized by age differences. Older women had more sexual dysfunction but cared about it less. The most distress occurred in women age 45 to 65, the age of the midlife crisis or role adjustment period. During this time period women are experiencing menopause and may be also be in the midst of changing identify expectations, whether they want to be or not.
Although the researchers did not look at the specific reasons why older women had more problems but less distress about them, they speculated the reasons could include partner changes, medical conditions, or problems with their partner’s health. Women in the youngest group had the lowest number of sexual problems and distress.
These finding are consistent with those from a 1999 study that evaluated the prevalence of sexual dysfunction among American women. This study found that about 43 percent of women reported having sexual dysfunction. This doctor also regarded the study findings as important only to the extent that dysfunctional women were disturbed by their dysfunction.
According to the lead doctor from the Massachusetts study approximately one in eight women is sexually dysfunctional and distressed by her dysfunction. For these women he recommended relationship counseling, treatment of associated medical conditions, and sex therapy.
Counseling and sex therapy will have little effect on a woman who is sexually dysfunctional because her levels of sex hormones have declined and become unbalanced to the point where she can no longer feel sex. Grabbing onto such an easy, generic answer reflects a complete disregard for the root of the problem and for the person experiencing it.
A human’s sexuality is as essential to overall health as all the other body systems. If a person’s cardiovascular or detoxification systems stop working, it is taken seriously. But if it is the sexual system that no longer works it is considered a non event unless it is troubling to the person experiencing it. Then it is turned into a psychological issue that requires counseling. Is this totally clueless response an admission that women in the U.S. aren’t really supposed to be sexual beings at all, so when sexuality goes away it is just fine? Is it an expression of how much our puritanical roots remain? Will these doctors be worried when they lose their sexuality?
The women in the study with the greatest concern about their loss of sexuality were in the age group from 45 to 65. Women in this age group are in serious hormonal decline. Their issue is physiological, and they are worried because on some level they know what their sexual dysfunction really means. It is their calling card from a future of declining health status, degenerative disease, failing memory, brittle bones, and the nursing home. A woman with sexual dysfunction sends a powerful message to nature announcing that the possibility of reproduction has ended and she is no longer needed in the grand scheme of life.
Other symptoms that go along with loss of sexuality are bloating, hot flashes, anger, exhaustion and fatigue, body itches, weight gain, allergies, vertigo, and foggy thinking. Eyes dry up and so do all the other juices of the body. In addition to the inability to feel sex, sex is no longer pleasant because it has become painful from lack of natural lubrication. Vaginal tissue thins and loses its muscle tone. Body parts that were once so alive and responsive are now as if death has set in. Losing sexuality is like losing your arm. Life is never the same again without it.
Along with sexual dysfunction, the loss of hormones means the loss of protection against many of the diseases and disabilities that plague people in this age group. It is estrogen, progesterone and testosterone that protect women from breast cancer. Women rarely develop cancer until their hormone levels have declined dramatically. It is testosterone that protects the hearts of women. Testosterone is an anabolic steroid, a muscle builder and supporter. The heart is one of the muscles in the body and needs testosterone to keep it working at its prime. Women do not usually experience heart attacks until their hormone levels have fallen, and after that heart disease is listed as the number one killer of women, although the real killer is lack of hormones. Testosterone is also an integral part of the female sexual response. While estrogen lubricates the vagina, testosterone is the hormone of the orgasm. Sex hormones protect the skeleton and keep bones strong. They protect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is not seen in women with a full complement of hormones.
The older group of women, those over the age of 65, who reported no concern over their sexual dysfunction have probably forgotten what it was like to be a sexual being. This is the group that has been without hormones for awhile, long enough for sexual memory to have faded or disappeared completely along with the ability to remember in general.
Women who are in the younger group and experiencing sexual dysfunction are most likely in the stage known as peri-menopause. In this stage estrogen is still there but has become out of balance usually because of a shortage of testosterone and progesterone. This is the group experiencing PMS, often the first signal that hormone levels are out of balance.
It does not have to be this way. Sexuality comes rushing back with hormonal balance. Many women report that regaining and balancing their hormones with the use of bioidentical hormone replacement allows them to experience a sex life like they have never experienced before. The period of life from age 45 upward is a time when many life tasks that once interfered with sexuality have been completed. It is a time when sexuality can reach a maturity that was not known at an earlier age.
It may take some work to get hormones in perfect amounts and balance, but it is well worth the effort. Hormone balancing with bioidenticals brings renewed sexuality and the ability to experience sex with a new appreciation. It also brings balance, energy and light to all the body organs and systems. It fills the body with energy and the mind with clarity and new thirst for knowledge. It brings muscle tone, balance and the desire for movement to the body. It brings shine to the hair, suppleness to the skin, and bounce to the step
Hormone balancing can be done on your own. Books written by doctors who have specialized in hormonal balance as part of their obstetrical/gynecological practice are available. These books give the precise directions, sources and amounts needed to restore the body to hormonal balance. However, much trial and error can be avoided by finding a doctor who specializes in anti-aging medicine or hormone balancing.
Start the quest for hormonal balance when the first signs of imbalance appear. Starting early will save many years of living at less than your full potential. If you have already begun to fall apart, it is not too late. Hormone balancing is appropriate at any stage of life and can add new quality to the remaining years. Women in their sixties and older may not be having hot flashes anymore, but they have joint pain, neck pain, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, brain fog and memory problems, cancer and dementia. All of these conditions can be improved by bioidentical hormone replacement at any age.
The erectile dysfunction, ejaculation timing issues and impotence reported by 31 percent of men are major signposts of hormonal decline. Production of the primary male sex hormone, testosterone, begins to decline from the age of 30 and continues. Falling levels of testosterone are responsible for men’s sexual dysfunction along with decreased muscle mass and bone density, insulin resistance, and depression. A recent study showed that low testosterone levels increased the risk of death in men from all causes by as much as 88 percent. Testosterone builds and strengthens bone and muscle. Optimal levels of testosterone are essential for preventing the heart attacks so frequent in men over 40.
Bioidentical replacement of testosterone allows men to regain their sexual functioning as well as the energy and joy for living that characterized their youth. When testosterone is replaced a signal is sent to nature that this man is still young and virile, the kind of guy that still has a place in the grand scheme of life.
Hormones cannot fully restore sexuality if the body if inflamed, stressed, or poorly nourished. The entire body needs to be functioning properly for a person to fully revive sexuality. Sexual health is part of general health and wellness. This includes good nutrition from a diet of whole foods, daily exercise, stress management, a full night’s sleep of eight hours or more, and having a purpose in life. It also means getting toxic chemicals out of the body, bathroom and kitchen.