If you are like most women over 45 who come to my office, you probably noticed that the old desire isn’t burning as brightly as it once was. Why is that? Is it something you just have to accept? The answer is NO! There are many reasons why your libido has gotten sidetracked. A major culprit is stress. We all know that stress makes us, well, stressed. But how does this affect your sex drive?
If you have been overwhelmed for a long time, chances your adrenal glands, the organ that makes cortisol (your stress hormone) are tired. The adrenal glands also make testosterone, one of your sex hormones. After age 45 (especially after menopause), the stress has not only drained away your energy, but your testosterone as well, results in a sluggish libido. Your sex drive is made up of many parts, and testosterone is one of them. What to do? Get an adrenal saliva test and a blood test for your DHEA and testosterone levels. If I find that your hormones are low, I make the following 3 suggestions:
- DHEA: Take DHEA to support testosterone production, since DHEA is converted to testosterone in your adrenal glands. You should not take DHEA without having your DHEA-S levels checked, or if you have a history of breast cancer, since DHEA can also be converted to estrogen. For most women, however, this is a good thing and will support all of your hormones. The usual starting dose is 25 mg. DHEA-S and testosterone levels in your blood are checked after 3 months, then every 6 months.
- FLAX SEED: Eat 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed every day. Sprinkle it on your cereal, mix it in your smoothie or yogurt. Ground flax is an aromatase inhibitor, which is important since aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen in your cells. Your testosterone might be low because your aromatase is on overdrive, and so blocking this enzyme is a libido booster.
- ADRENAL SUPPORT: Work on healing your adrenal glands. This means getting a better night’s sleep, at least 7 hours; eating a whole foods diet with little sugar and white flour; and not skipping meals (don’t go more than 4 hours without eating). Exercise is very important too, as is a relaxation or meditation practice every day.