In her new book, Love Sex Again: A Gynecologist Finally Solves the Issues That Are Sabotaging Your Sex Life, Lauren Streicher, MD goes in depth on various women’s health issues, including the many topics surrounding intercourse and aging. With approximately 40% of women age 18-80 having some sexual difficulty, and about 60% of the women over the age of 50 having intercourse problems, it is clear that many women are in need of answers. Below, here are some of the topics that Streicher addresses in her book.
Diabetes and Pleasure
For people who have diabetes, sexual problems can indicate nerve damage, blocked arteries, and hormonal imbalance. Many people with poorly-managed diabetes may struggle with low libido, or sex drive. If your libido is stalled, first reevaluate your diabetes management and take steps to lower your blood glucose levels. Then consider your medications, as some medications may cause low libido as a side-effect, as is the case with many anti-depressants.
Birth control & Vaginal Dryness
There are many reasons for vaginal dryness. From menopause to autoimmune disorders, vaginal dryness is a common side effect of many different health issues. However, if you have yet to begin menopause but still struggle with vaginal dryness, the answer could be in your birth control. Depending on the type of birth control pill you take, pills with low levels of estrogen and also contain drospirenone, desogestrel or norgestimate have been reported to cause vaginal dryness and low libido. Additionally, birth control pills that lower a woman’s testosterone levels produced by the ovaries can also lead to dryness.
Recurring vaginal infections from petroleum jelly as a lubricant
Although petroleum jelly may be a good way to moisturize chapped skin and dry lips, the same cannot be said for down there. Research has shown that women who use petroleum jelly vaginally can contribute to an increased risk for bacterial vaginosis, which can make women more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. Although there still needs to be more research done, Dr. Sten Vermund, director of the Institute for Global Health at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville explained to WebMD that petroleum jelly can promote the growth of bad bacteria because of its “alkaline properties.”
“An acidic vaginal environment is what protects women from colonization from abnormal organisms,” Vermund said.
Infertility treatments don’t have to ruin intercourse
A 2012 study out of the Indiana University School of Public Health revealed that assisted reproductive techniques like IVF, can cause problems with sexual desire, interest and satisfaction. The research also found that women had physical issues, such as vaginal pain and dryness. However, hormonal supplements and alternative treatments can help address these issues.
Menopause is not the end of intercourse
The loss of estrogen and testosterone following menopause can lead to changes in a woman’s body and libido. However, these changes don’t necessarily mean that intercourse is off the table. Although menopausal and postmenopausal women may notice that they need more to get aroused, there are medical and therapeutic steps you can take to address these issues. Estrogen supplements and counseling are just two ways to improve intercourse during and post-menopause. Moreover, actively exploring different ways to improve physical intimacy with your partner can also increase drive.