Ebony Expert Advice on Love and Relationships
from Ebony February 2004
Q: I am a 52-year-old Black female and l have lost my libido for sex. However, mentally, I still have a desire for sex, thank goodness. I am in menopause and my libido left along with my periods. My only partner, a 56-year-old Black man, tries to make our sex life as enjoyable as possible under the circumstances. The beautiful thing about my relationship with him is that I enjoy just being with him. We’ve been dating for over 14 years. During my annual gynecological exam, I asked my doctor if there is a pill I could take or something I can do to regain my libido? Her answer was that there was nothing that she could prescribe or offer. Is this true? Or is my doctor not fully informed? Is there anything can do to regain my libido?
can do to regain my libido. Her an-swer was that there is nothing she could prescribe or offer. Is this true? Or is my doctor not fully in formed? Is there anything I can do to regain my libido?
District of Columbia
A: Menopause can be a devastating time in a woman’s life. The hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) that have been so plentiful are depleting, therefore no more periods and unfortunately, sometimes, less and less libido in women. Dr. Hope Ashby, a psychotherapist who specializes in sexuality issues, says that for every woman, the situation is different.
“You still have desire for sex but no libido,” Dr. Ashby says in regard to your question. “So I have a few questions for you: When you say that you have desire, does that mean you have fantasies and you want to be intimate, but you don’t have energy to engage in sex? Or do you have the energy, but just not as often as you used to (i.e., once a week rather than four times a week)? When you do engage in sex, is it as satisfying for you as it has been in the past; are you able to reach orgasm? “You might be wondering why I’m asking these questions. Women are very different from men when it comes to sex. We juggle a lot of things in our lives—family, work and our partners, and sometimes all of these things converge and can have an effect on our sex lives. Menopause is a very big event in a woman’s life…She may wonder if she is still a ‘real woman’ and if it affects her significant other. “There are a lot of emotions that get translated unconsciously into our behavior. First, I would recommend really sitting down and mapping out when you first had these symptoms. Try to remember what other things were going on in your life that might have had an impact on your sex life during that time.
Also, you should really ponder what it means to be menopausal. Some women are happy that pads and tampons are no longer a part of their lives, while others may have an unconscious reaction. Sometimes there is underlying depression, so you should consult your doctor or a therapist. “Second, ask your doctor to create a hormonal profile to help determine your level of testosterone, which works with estrogen for sexual functioning. In menopause, estrogen levels are low. Low testosterone levels also affect sexual functioning. Currently there are no FDA-approved testosterone re-placements available as there are for estrogen. But there are remedies from compounding pharmacies that make up medications based on a doctor’s directions. This area of medicine is fairly new and not a lot of doctors are aware of the latest research on sexual medicine, especially for women. “So, don’t get too angry with your doctor; educate her/him as you go through this process. Otherwise you might try to find another doctor who has more knowledge. In addition, your partner deserves a big “hooray” for sticking by you and trying to help you through this problem. It sounds as though you have a great relationship based on good communication and genuine love and gentleness. I wish you good luck and better sex!”