Sexual Health-How do you know where to start?

Sexual Health…How do you know where to start?

It is not as simple as saying “I don’t want to age”, rather, “I can certainly make choices to improve quality of life and slow down the process”.

Hormone changes are a natural part of the aging process.  While a woman’s hormones begin to decline at the age of 35(2) and plunge dramatically during her peri-menopausal years, the signs of hormone changes in men are gradual and come later in life. (3)

Would you be surprised to know a recent survey found that 63 percent of Americans wish they were having more sex?  Over 3000 adults, greater than 50% of participants said they were, or had dealt with at least one sexual problem in the past.  Low sexual function was the most common amongst females with erectile dysfunction for men. (4)

Female health relies on an exquisite interplay between hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrients and psychosocial factors.  Both your internal and external environment will dictate the quality of your cycle, your sleep and even your interpersonal relationships.

Collection of data from University of Chicago revealed as many as 45 million women in the USA experience reduced sexual desire, and 1 in 3 women report this decline as a “concern”.  NAMS, North American Menopause Society reports in 2013 sexual concerns as well as physical concerns are reported as increasing in severity as a woman ages.  Women are 2 to 3 times more likely than men to experience a decline in sex arousal. (2)

Arousal is a mix of sexual drive the physical component (sensation & sensitivity) and sexual desire, the mental emotional requirement.  Together they motivate one to seek out sexual contact and will vary from woman to woman and may vary based on the woman’s daily activities, stress, and health.

Reduced sexual desire, does not typically decline due to lack of sex drive, but due age, premenstrual tension and can affect women of any age.  As much as 9% of women seeking support for healthy libidos are below the age of 45 years says Stephanie Buehler, PsyD.   Commonly women during a postnatal period (-after delivery) or with demands on a new mom and Menopause are the most common triggers for sufficient physical response but lack of desire.

Lack of female arousal is not something you have to live with, and you shouldn’t be too embarrassed to discuss it with your doctor.  For those women, perhaps knowing there is an approach with the use of  botanicals, amino acids, simple B-vitamins and omega III fatty acid to support quality of life concerns, may go a long way to improving their outlook and compliance.

Proper nutrition plays a positive role in relieving some of the problems of age related decline in libido. One step toward better sexual health is to may want to evaluate your dietary and supplemental balance. Evidence is substantive that several minerals and vitamins are important for healthy sexual arousal, including Zinc, B-vitamins; Omega III’s and select amino acids and botanicals.

Vitamins B6 and E encourage the release of progesterone, even in post-menopausal females, into the bloodstream and may potentially raise progesterone levels.  An increase in progesterone has a relaxing effect and reduces some anxiety and nervousness, not uncommon in menstruating and non-menstruating women.  Sufficient B-Vitamin status may also ensure adequate amounts of both Dopamine and Serotonin production- a critical part of managing sexual health.

Botanicals helpful in female health are chosen based on their mechanism to help stimulate desire and support a woman’s physical response to stimulation, stabilize mood and increase stamina or energy.  In addition, finding botanicals to support healthy sleep is essential to maximizing your efforts if sleep disruption is a frequent concern with maintaining a healthy Libido.

  1. mirifica a botanical helpful to support normal vaginal secretions and promote strength of the vaginal muscles to support a strong contraction as both vaginal tone and vaginal comfort are concerns of aging female’s health.

Sexual climax (orgasm) is triggered when histamine is released from mast cells in the genitals and can produce sensations of intense warmth throughout the body.  L-histidine when taken orally promotes smooth muscle contraction in the body, especially the genitalia muscles

Velvet bean extract, has a long history of use in India, & with Ayurvedic Specialists. Velvet Bean extract has chemical constituents that may be precursors to Dopamine’s production.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that promotes enjoyment and interest in life.

Damiana helps support normal sexual drive and pleasure. Together with other botanicals like Ashwaganda, which also promotes normal nitric oxide synthase for dilation of blood vessels has demonstrated the ability to promote normal engorgement of sexual tissues to support sensitivity.

Men, Metabolism & Aging

In men, hormone production and testosterone bioavailability decline gradually, resulting in changes in sexual function, energy and mood.  Many of the signs of male androgen loss go by without much attention and are considered the “natural part of aging”.  (3)

Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects approximately 25 million men in the U.S (7). ED is a complicated issue because it can include psychological issues, partner issues, depression or physical components.

Testosterone is an androgen or “THE” male hormone. Testosterone production decreases in men at the rate of about 1 % per year post the age of 40(5).  Many men are told they are in a normal range for testosterone and still complain of low mood, poor erectile health, declining lean muscle mass and sexual stamina. (6)

A natural approach to libido and arousal may include zinc as well as herbs such as ginkgo, Tribulus terrestris, Epimedium, or the amino acid arginine, all of which can increase blood flow to the penis and enhance sexual arousal.  Epimedium and Tribulus have been rated as “possibly effective” for erectile and sexual dysfunction by the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database.  Tribulus specifically may stimulate androgen receptor density, (1) and as a natural antioxidant,  tribulus also is considered cardio-protective, while Epimedium, or Horney goat weed is an aphrodisiac for both genders.

Zinc initiates key enzymes, playing a pivotal role in vaso-constriction of the key blood vessels arteries in response to stimulation.   Because tissue stores of both Zinc and Iron can be quite low, in later years, it is prudent to supplement today to avoid a chronic concerns later. This is as true for women as it is for men.

L- Arginine is also beneficial for ED as a common health factor in male libido concern are concomitant factors like excess weight, cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. These health concerns tend to increase the enzyme that degrades L-arginine (known as arginase) resulting in a transient deficiency.

Regardless of your gender, aging and lifestyle play a role in sexual health and quality of life and relationships.  Anyone experiencing sexual problems should consider not simply their physical health, but also their psychosocial health and satisfaction with their intimate relationship and quality of life. Most importantly, you should choose a regimen that resonates with your personal life choices and goals.

  1. Forensic Sci Int. 2008 Jun 10;178(1):e7-10. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Feb 20.
  2. US Depart of Health and Human Services; National Institute for aging/North American Menopause Society(NAMS)
  3. Michael K Brawer, MD  Rev Urol. 2004; 6(Suppl 6): Testosterone Replacement in Men with Andropause: An Overview
  4. Edward O. Laumann, PhD; J. of Sexual Med; 2008; 5(10) 2300-2311
  5. J Urol November 2002;168(5):2070-3
  6. J Clin Endocrin and Metab 2000;85(8):2839-2853
  7. American Urological Association, 2013