From the early-thirties on, hormone imbalance can shove you into a virtual sexual quicksand. Your lack of sex drive is one big problem but – as additional symptoms stack up – your sex life is increasingly compromised by a myriad of other interconnected physical, emotional, and mental issues. Most women are aware of how the dynamic dance between estrogen and progesterone shifts as they age, but they tend to think of testosterone as a male-only hormone. However, women require testosterone, as well, to maintain healthy mood, sex drive, and healthy muscles and bones: the difference is in the quantity. Women naturally produce 0.25 milligrams of testosterone daily, while men may produce 4 to 7 milligrams: ten to forty times that amount! In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands, and in men, it is produced in the testes and adrenal glands. Women and men both reach their peak of testosterone levels in their 20s, and thereafter levels drop approximately one percent a year. With optimal levels of testosterone, both men and women benefit from increased energy, reduced fat, healthy libido, and a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels. When it comes to sexual growth and function, testosterone is best known as the hormone of desire. In addition to fueling libido, it promotes sexual pleasure by causing the nipples and clitoris to be sensitive to touch.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is another hormone that influences the levels of your sex hormones thereby also influencing your sex drive. DHEA is called a “precursor hormone” because it can be converted to testosterone. Levels of DHEA naturally decrease with age. By the time you are eighty years old, your DHEA levels will be about five to ten percent of the amount produced during your reproductive years. Age is not the only factor influencing DHEA production. Chronic stress also depletes DHEA levels. Surveys of women have linked declining DHEA production in women with a decreasing tendency to think about or initiate sex, as well as reported decrease in feelings of sexual satisfaction.
Sex Throughout Your Lifetime
Estrogen dominance is frequently one silent culprit zapping the libido; testosterone deficiency is another. Although your ovaries and adrenal glands are still pumping out lots of testosterone, pre-menopausal women can also suffer from a condition called “relative testosterone deficiency.” This occurs because levels of another hormone called sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) increase two to three times normal levels. SHBG then binds to free testosterone molecules circulating within the body and, in doing so, keeps the testosterone from fulfilling its mission of fueling sex drive at a cellular level. An increase in SHBG occurs naturally with age, but can also be worsened by the use of synthetic birth control pills.
Though peri-menopause is the time of life when your estrogen levels begin to decline and cause irregular periods, this does not mean all peri-menopausal women immediately become estrogen deficient. Remember that estrogen dominance is a relative condition of too much estrogen as compared to too little progesterone. Some peri-menopausal women’s estrogen levels will decline so slowly that their estrogen to progesterone ratio still qualifies them as estrogen deficient. Other peri-menopausal women will continue to be estrogen dominant because extra body fat is continuing to produce lots of estrogen even when their ovaries cannot. To definitely resolve whether you are estrogen dominant or deficient, we recommend you get bloodwork analysis. Your vagina is also good barometer. Estrogen deficiency causes vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal wall. If you are having difficulty lubricating before and during sex, or if intercourse has become painful, your vagina is letting you know that it is lacking much needed estrogen.
These are the years when your ovaries’ production of testosterone also begins to decline. Testosterone deficiency (medically termed androgen insufficiency) catalyzes a shift from low-libido to no-libido. If you add together extra twenty or thirty pounds, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and a frequent need to pee, it is understandable why many peri-menopausal women prefer flipping channels!
Menopause, Post-Menopause, or Hysterectomy
In years past, sexuality after menopause notoriously received little attention from the traditional medical community. Many women hesitated to report low libido or problems with arousal or sensation because they were embarrassed or doubted that their doctors would have the time or interest to address it. Today, 42 million post-menopausal women in the United States realize they might live another forty years. They want to know: “Why should I go without sex for one third of my life?” They are demanding that libido and sexual function be a central component in their medical strategy for healthy aging. The problem is that many physicians do not know how to reverse the negative impact that hormone level decline has on libido and other aspects of female sexual health. Menopausal women who have had a hysterectomy will need to boost lagging hormone levels across the full spectrum: progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
How do you know what type of supplementation you need for natural symptom relief?
Dr. Randolph has created specific guidelines to help you determine your individual supplementation needs and correct dosage. The type of supplementation you select depends on your age, menstrual history, symptoms, and hormone test results (if you have them). Recommended supplements are based on specific criteria, including: age range, life cycle, and associated hormone level shifts, resulting type of imbalance/ medical condition, and common symptoms. All hormonal supplements are bioidentical formulations that duplicate the natural physiology of hormones in the body. Ingredients as listed are derived from natural and/or plant-based substances.
What are the benefits?
The first question you should ask is: what you can expect from a natural hormone balancing regime. The answer is simple: relief from unwanted symptoms! You should expect improved libido, more lubrication, fewer night sweats and hot flashes, improved moods, memory and sleep, renewed strength and energy, the ability to shed extra pounds more easily, and a belly that goes from fat to flatter. When or if symptoms persist, adrenal support, additional bioidentical hormone supplementation and/or a compounded formulation may also be required.
Sexual Vitality Treatments
At the Ageless & Wellness Medical Center, we believe that sexual health is an important aspect of every person’s quality of life, no matter your age or past experiences. For our patients who wish to take the next step toward improved sexual health, we now offer the in-office O-Shot® (also called the Orgasm-Shot) sexual vitality treatment.
The O-Shot® is a medical procedure developed and trademarked by Dr. Charles Runels, M.D. He was the first to apply an established technique using platelet rich plasma to increase blood flow and create new tissue — for the purpose of sexual health. Both Dr. Randolph and Steven Garces, ARNP, MSN, have been trained and certified to provide the O-Shot® (and men’s Priapus Shot®) treatments. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) extracted from a simple blood draw is injected into your body in strategic locations to rejuvenate the tissue. The result is new tissue growth and increased blood flow. For more than 15 years, medical professionals have been using PRP to promote post-operative healing after trauma. This technique has been used for professional athletes; by injecting PRP into joint cartilage, players can recover more quickly from injury and be back on the field stronger than before. The use of PRP for tissue rejuvenation takes advantage of the natural healing factors of your own body! The O-Shot® uses the same material that your body used to heal a scraped knee when you were a kid — growth factors and stem cells that stimulate wound healing. The results are: new collagen, new blood vessel formation, and enlargement of fat cells, with no abnormal cell formation. For women who have experienced vaginal changes due to childbirth, problems with urinary incontinence, or pain with intercourse, the O-Shot® can significantly improve sexual health and quality of life.