Love is in the air…or is it in a cream?

Female Sexual Interest Disorder

In my practice as a pharmacist specializing in women’s health and wellness, I encounter frustrated women and couples seeking help to better their intimate lives. While many women are uncomfortable talking to their doctors or healthcare providers about an unsatisfying sexual life, men, on the other hand, seem to be pretty open in bringing up the subject. Is that why there are more than 20 drugs out there for different types of sexual dysfunction for men and only one drug for women?

The disorder known to clinicians as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” (HSDD) is now called “female sexual interest/arousal disorder.”

In a large epidemiologic study, Sue Davis, MD, president of the International Menopause Society and professor of women’s health at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues found that almost one third of women between the ages of 40 and 64 years had HSDD and it did not matter whether they were pre or post-menopausal. Low sexual desire has biological, psychological, and cultural causes. This makes sexual health experts’ job difficult since there is not one known reason for HSDD.

Testosterone Levels & Sexual Desire

In some women, diminished sexual desire is related to lower testosterone levels. There is usually a rapid drop in testosterone level between the mid-30s and the mid-40s in women. The obvious conclusion is that testosterone replacement may be the most direct way to treat low sexual desire in both pre and postmenopausal women. In Australia, this is exactly what they do. There, they use a testosterone cream that has been specifically formulated for women. According to Dr. Davis, Australian clinicians use testosterone in the treatment of HSDD because, in a nutshell, it works and it’s safe.

In the US, there are no FDA approved testosterone products available for women. However, that has not stopped physicians from prescribing testosterone products for female patients seeking help. Compounding pharmacies across the country have been making custom made testosterone creams, drops and lozenges for decades. The doses of these compounds are low and are based on factors such as patient’s testosterone level, symptoms and potential side effects.

Determining the Cause of HSDD

Not every woman who suffers from low libido will benefit from testosterone therapy. A step by step approach is always helpful to determine the cause of HSDD. Your overall hormone status, testosterone level, DHEA level, vaginal dryness, other medications and diseases as well as chemicals in your brain need to be taken into consideration to determine the best approach for helping your libido and sexual function.

Sometimes a combination of counseling and certain hormones, herbs and medications works best.

A simple call to Community Clinical Pharmacy is the first step to help resolve your low libido. Talk to an expert and discover what options may be appropriate for you.