Jennifer Landa, M.D., a 40-something blogger, triathlete and Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD an Orlando, Florida-based practice dedicated to bioidentical hormone therapy, customized nutrition and fitness programs, admits there was a time she could care less about sex. She was on a form of birth control that reduced her sex drive. And she was working 100 hours a week as an OB/GYN resident. Because her low libido was a personal issue — and because she was in a position to talk to other women – she knew she wasn’t alone. She also knew there were things she could do to get it back. Her book, The Sex Drive Solution For Women: Dr. Jen’s Power Plan to Fire Up Your Libido, offers real-life “mojo therapy” for all us, including creative ways to revive a bored sex drive along with answers to “What if it’s him, not me?” BA50 sat down for a frank chat.
BA50: So: Big question: Can women 50+ get their sex drive back, presuming they’ve lost it?
Dr. Jen: Absolutely! Intimacy is crucial for a successful relationship. It’s why you need to talk to your practitioner about possible hormone imbalance. The drugs you may be taking along with any excess weight and a poor diet can derail your sex life. There’s no equivalent of Viagra for women, no one pill or potion. A woman’s sex drive is tied to her attention, as well as to her hormones and her attention is too often held captive by piles of laundry and dirty dishes. Stress is the biggest killer. But sex – if you think about it clinically - lowers the stress hormone cortisol to make way to rev up our other feel good hormones. In other words, sex relieves stress.
BA50: Is there a “first step?” aside from talking to your doctor?
Dr. Jen: You need to be realistic with yourself and become a bit of a detective. Really think about the causes that could be leading to your low libido. I have a lot of patients who don’t want to admit that the real reason they don’t want to have sex is because the relationship with their spouse has gone sour.
BA50: Presuming we love our spouses is there an “easy fix?”
Dr. Jen: One of the secret weapons to fire up your love life is to use novelty. If I asked you to eat your favorite food three times a week, you’d eventually get bored. Which is why we can’t expect to have sex using the same position with the same person in the same bed for 30 years and still be excited about it. Adding small toys—from mild to wild – work. So does getting new sexy lingerie, getting a new biking wax, reading an erotic book – of course Fifty Shades of Grey is all the rage now. Renting erotic movies also helps. Think about what turns you on; for some people if’s visual, for some others it’s olfactory. Talk to your partner and be really honest.
BA50: A lot of BA50s complain about vaginal dryness.
Dr. Jen: Yes, this is common. Women 50-plus don’t realize that the tissues in their vagina actually shrink and atrophy as they get older so sex can be very painful. This is treatable – often with hormone treatments. You can also try extra virgin coconut oil, which acts as a lubricate and helps moisturize. It’s found in most health food stores and is a great emollient. Other lubricants work as long as you go with something that is paraben and saline free.
BA50: Is there anything else we should know?
Dr. Jen: Yes. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. You’re in good company. According to our current research on American women, about 40 % of us over age 30 have “impaired sexual response.” Surveys also show that menopausal women are the most likely to have low libido which makes sense because menopause brings a significant drop in levels of the very hormone that help create sex drive. If you have been scared away from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by warnings that it causes cancer, strokes and heart disease, I would like to reassure you now that hormones can be replaced safely and effectively when they are bioidentical Bioidential hormones are carbon copies of the hormones made by the human body. Optimal health and libido is created by hormone balance. Yet, they are only part of the picture.
Another of my “secret ingredients” in my libido restoration recipe is mindfulness. This is about being in the moment, about finding ways to be present and aware, to still the mind’s chatter and fully engage in the sensory, sensual self. In other words: don’t let your mind wander during sex to the chores of daily life and the never-ending to-do lists. Concentrate and engage your brain – and your body will follow along.