By Dr. Diana Bitner
I recently had the pleasure of hosting a Live Chat on Facebook (video at the bottom of this post!) with my friend and colleague, Dr. Becky Lynn. Dr. Lynn is the CEO and founder of Evora Center for Menopause and Sexual Health in St. Louis, MO. I can’t think of a better person to talk about the topic of “Bringing Happiness Back Into the Bedroom,” because Dr. Lynn is also a Certified Sexual Counselor and offers relationship counseling in her practice. We are both OB/Gyn doctors who became interested in midlife, menopause, and sexual health several years ago, and are both passionate about empowering all women to lead healthy sex lives. Our goal is to help you understand why you might be having a diminished sexual desire and give you some options for treatment.
What’s hindering your happiness in the bedroom?
There are so many things that can hinder your relationship with your partner in the bedroom. Things like relationship issues, chronic illness, stress, hormones, or lack of communication can affect your ability to enjoy sex. If you have several problems you are dealing with, you need to address each one; otherwise, you won’t really fix the problem. More importantly, these unresolved issues can cause problems in your relationship and eventually within your family. And, if you’re having problems, sexual or otherwise, please know you are not alone!
Unfortunately, our society keeps the topic of sex as “hush, hush,” but it’s really a part of everyday health, just like food and shelter. Since sex is considered a basic need, it’s really important to take away the guilt and shame surrounding it! Nearly 80 percent of women have questions about sexual health, but only 20 percent of healthcare professionals are comfortable talking with their patients about it. Part of the reason is that many doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners don’t have the training needed to answer your questions.
What are the treatment options?
Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment options available to help you bring happiness back into the bedroom! Some of these treatment options include low-dose vaginal hormones, lubricants, moisturizers, pelvic floor physical therapy, and MonaLisa Laser Therapy (offered at true. Women’s Health). It is important to discuss these options with your healthcare provider to make sure they are safe for you, depending on your medical history.
We also want to mention the use of testosterone to improve sex drive, orgasm, arousal, bone health, and muscle mass in postmenopausal women. Many women don’t realize that testosterone declines with age. In fact, it starts to decrease when a woman is in her late twenties and doesn’t get any better after menopause! Although there is only FDA-approved testosterone for men, women can also benefit from using it in doses that are adjusted for use in women. If you are considering using testosterone for treatment of your sexual health issues, be sure to have a discussion with your healthcare professional about the benefits, risks, and side effects.
You may also wish to consult a sexual counselor who focuses on both the psychological and physiological elements of sexual health. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you find a sexual counselor near you:
- isswsh.org. This organization offers information about women’s sexuality and sexual health. They also have a list of providers who specialize in sexual health all throughout the country.
- menopause.org. You can find a complete list of Certified Menopause Practitioners (CMP) by visiting this website. Although all CMPs are not sexual health experts, they can typically help you find a specialist in your area.
After digging deep and trying various options, if you find there is no clear reason for your lack of happiness in your sex life and you have the desire to have sex, you could have a condition called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). There is help for this condition and your healthcare provider can help! There are also some medications that are FDA-approved to treat HSDD. The first is a pill called Addyi that you take every night, and it works to improve libido about 50 percent of the time. Its main side effect is drowsiness, so we recommend you take it at bedtime. The second option is called Vyleesi, and it is an injection (a very tiny needle!) that you use when you want to feel desire. It’s not something you use daily, only at the time you want to have sex.
Dr. Bitner & Dr. Lynn’s 5 tips to bring happiness back into the bedroom
- Think about what is difficult for you in your sex life—When you have identified these barriers, turn them around and have them become your goal. For example: If you have pain with intercourse, flip that in your mind and say, “I want to have intercourse without pain.” Make that your goal and be very clear about your intention. Then, look at your options to make that happen.
- Get rid of shame about lack of happiness in your sex life—Know it is very common for most women to have some dysfunction or low desire in their lifetime. Too many women suffer in silence because they think they are the only ones. Getting rid of the shame can open the door to a solution.
- Consider the reasons why you don’t have happiness in your sex life—At true. Women’s Health, we use a tool called the “Sex Puzzle Cards” to help you identify the reasons why things have changed for you and your partner in the bedroom. These cards highlight the 27 reasons for low sex drive on one side of the cards and then list the possible causes and options for treatment on the other side of the cards.
- Prioritize self-care—At true. Women’s Health, we talk daily about the Seven Essential Elements of Daily Success (SEEDS), which is a checklist of seven basic habits that we should all do every day. Self-care cannot be underestimated—without it, we aren’t able to care for our kids, our friends, or our sexual partners. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, how are we supposed to have the energy to perform in the bedroom?
- Speak up for what works for you in the bedroom—Don’t be afraid to bring up what you want and need! More than likely, your partner is already thinking the same thing and is afraid to discuss it with you. If you give your partner options and feedback, there’s a good chance you can bring back some fun and excitement in the bedroom.
Find Dr. Lynn at evorabydrbeckylynn.com.
Watch our discussion about bringing happiness back to your bedroom below!