Women Deserve to Have Low Libido Treated!
By: Michael Krychman, MD • Posted on January 09, 2014
Female Sexual Empowerment
I have focused my practice on female sexual issues, treatments, options and empowerment. Regardless of one’s background, I imagine most would agree that therehas been a noticeable societal shift towards greater acceptance, awareness and expression of female sexual empowerment. Everywhere you turn, women are owning their sexuality and speaking out - sometimes in a way that may be considered risqué, but at least they are talking!
Do not get me wrong, many women I see in my practice would rather keep their sex lives behind closed doors for a variety of reasons. And some women do not have much in the way of sexual interest based on religious or cultural beliefs or, in some cases, due to psychological issues, problems in their relationship or their own personal make-up and/or life circumstance.
Biologically Driven Lack of Sexual Desire
But what about those women who feel left out of the sexual realm, not because of their own set of personal beliefs or treatable psychological issues, but rather an actual biologically driven lack of sexual desire that is out of their control?
The rate of low sexual desire or “low libido” is high, reaching 43 percent. While an estimated 10 percent of women experience low sexual desire with the hallmark characteristic of distress, a medical condition termed “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” or HSDD. It is personal distress that we are medically concerned about as well as any disorders that cause pain. The North American Menopause Society has a list of online resources and information for women.
A recent study showed that a women’s sexual function is closely linked to better satisfaction with life! Satisfaction with life is positively correlated with:
- Better sexual function
- Healthy body mass index
And is negatively correlated to the following:
- Money problems
- Tobacco use
- Menopausal symptoms
- Partner issues and/or lack of a partner
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is defined in the medical literature as a “persistent or recurrent deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty, and which is not better accounted for by a medical, substance-related, psychiatric or other sexual conditions." Research has shown that women with HSDD are more likely than women who have “normal” desire to experience the following feelings:
- Loss of femininity
- Decreased self-esteem
And there are still NO FDA-approved treatments! And a promising new therapy, Flibanserin, may be paternalistically thwarted by the FDA.
When Will There be HSDD Treatment for Women?
HSDD was first characterized as a medical condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987. There are no FDA-approved pharmacological treatments available for women. Erectile dysfunction was first characterized in 1992. There are 23 FDA-approved treatments for either erectile dysfunction or low testosterone. Clearly, males have many more options to treat their sexual dysfunction than women do.
While the etiology of erectile dysfunction and HSDD certainly differ, they are equally deserving of consideration and treatment. Certainly, sexuality and sexual function is complex in both women and men. It is very frustrating, though for women and their health care providers to have less treatment options for HSDD than they do for male sexual problems.
As research into female sexuality has advanced, the element of desire has come into sharper focus. We now know that desire is a complex interplay of social, psychological and biological components. If neither social nor psychological components are causing low sexual desire and primarily, biology is at play, science now understands that there can be an imbalance of key neurotransmitters, or chemicals, in the brain that affect sexual drive. With this direct correlation between chemical imbalance and desire, there is no reason why, in 2014, a treatment option for women should not be available!
While the science has finally caught up, there still remains a huge disparity in available options to treat sexual dysfunction between the sexes. The need to correct this disparity and make treatment options available for the millions of women who suffer from HSDD is clear. Men have had proven, FDA-approved treatments for erectile dysfunction and it is now high time, for women to have treatment options for low libido.
Yours in Health,
Micheal Krychman, MD
Michael L. Krychman, MDCM, is the Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine located in Newport Beach California. He is the former Co Director of The Sexual Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer. He also is a clinical sexologist and has completed his Masters in Public Health and Human Sexuality. Dr Krychman has a degree in Erotology, Sexual Education and Forensic Sexology. Dr Krychman is also an AASECT certified sexual counselor. He is on faculty at University of Southern California. He is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California Irvine, Division of Gynecological Oncology and the Medical Director of Ann’s Clinic, a high risk program for Breast and Ovarian Cancer Survivors.
His special interests include menopausal health, hormone therapy, sexual pain disorders, loss of libido, chronic medical illness and its impact on female sexual function as well as breast cancer sexuality. He is a well known speaker who is featured locally, nationally and internationally. He has published many articles in peer reviewed journals and has been featured in many scientific journals and lay magazines. Dr Krychman is an active reviewer for the Journal of Sexual Medicine. He was the Scientific Chairman for the 2010 International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health annual educational meeting. He presently holds an active executive board position for the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. He is an active member in good standing in ISSM, ESSM, ISSWSH and AASECT. He has recently been appointed to the Standard Committee for ISSM and has been a guest professor at the ESSM Sexual Medicine Summer School in Oxford, England. He creator of the recent WISH Initiative (Women’ Initiative on Sexual Health: http://www.yourvoiceyourwish.com) and the 2013 recipient of the WISH Outstanding Achievement award given by the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health.
Dr. Krychman’s has published 6 books including , 100 Questions & Answers for Women Living with Cancer: A Practical Guide to Female Cancer Survivorship has been recently published., 100 Questions and Answers about Women’s Sexual Wellness and Vitality and Breast cancer Sexuality, Sensuality and Intimacy. He has been featured in the New York Times and US News and World Report World Report, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Health Magazine and many others.
For more information on Dr. Michael Krychman, visit thesexualhealthcenter.com.
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