Let’s call a spade, a spade: A marriage without sex is like a bucket with a tiny hole. It doesn’t work quite the way it should, there’s always something a little amiss. Need to put that fire out and don’t have an extinguisher handy? Call emergency right away because your bucket of water is leaking faster than an ice cream cone on a scorching day…
Marriage needs emotional and physical contact. That’s what intimacy is all about – making the connection with your spouse to reinforce your bond, boost your mood and reap the health benefits of youthful vigor and immune strength. Sex may wane in frequency and intensity, but it can’t peter out altogether.
But what if your libido has tanked and you just don’t have any interest in sex? Men can turn to products like Viagra or natural supplements to boost testosterone, but what options are available for women?
Well, a “little blue pill” for women might be on the market next year. A panel of advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended the first “female Viagra” drug be approved with precautions by the FDA later this summer. Flibanserin is a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women.
Let me point out that there’s no current drug for this on the market. The FDA approved Viagra for men in 1998, and a number of products since then, but the FDA has not approved any medications for women’s sexual function. So there is an “unmet need” the FDA has acknowledged.
While Viagra tackles a physical problem by increasing blood flow to the penis to create an erection, and so on, flibanserin for women was first developed as an anti-depressant and works on neurotransmitters in the brain that affect sexual desire. It’s a pill to change brain chemistry so women will want sex. This isn’t for women who are fatigued and stressed from life’s demands, too tired to even think about having sex. This is for healthy women who have addressed their stress, nutrition needs and hormones – making sure everything is in working order for sexual function – but still come up empty when it comes to libido.
As with any antidepressant or other drug that deals with brain chemistry, there are risks of dependency, addiction and other side effects. In fact, FDA medical officers have raised a host of safety concerns about the drug: Dizziness, nausea, fainting, sleepiness and interaction with other drugs – including hormonal birth control pills and alcohol – they should not be taken if you’re using either of these. The point is, this “little blue pill” has the potential to increase accidents.
For women in need, the benefit may outweigh the risks. And the panel has included conditions for FDA approval, including warning labels, an education program, prescriber training and certification.
While flibanserin may be an option for women, there are natural ways to boost libido. I always advocate for trying effective foods and other strategies without prescription medication, so you don’t have to take on the harmful risks and unwanted side effects. Really, no one wants to be dizzy, sleepy and unable to drive their car…
What you eat plays a major role in your sexual health. Dark chocolate, avocados, guava, hot chilies and bananas, for example, are good picks. They can help increase libido, promote blood flow and provide us with energy to get down to business. You don’t want to eat a diet filled with processed foods that just fill your body with empty calories and extra junk.
Sleep and sex are linked. We now know that adequate, quality sleep has a huge impact on our health, from our mental outlook to our cardiovascular system. New research in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at the benefits of sleep on sex drive, revealing that among women, adding an additional hour of sleep a night may increase their sexual desire by 14 percent.
Get a handle on your stress. Stress is good for us in small amounts, but chronic stress or high, overwhelming stress that strikes often, can do a number on our health, including our libido. Being stressed or anxious can deter sex from happening, but it should be used as a solution. A 2005 Scottish study looked at participants in stressful situations – public speaking or solving math problems out loud – and recorded their sexual activity. Those who had sex more frequently bounced back quicker after the stressful situation. They also didn’t experience spikes in their blood pressure, another bonus.
High blood pressure can affect your blood flow, and your parts simply won’t work half as well without blood flow. You may also feel tired, groggy, and just not up for sex, so maintaining normal blood pressure is also key.
Talk about sex with your partner. Some consider it a social minefield, but broaching the subject of sex is important. You have to be open about what you value and your own vulnerability – that’s not always easy, but it will bring you closer together.
Address your own health concerns, get regular exercise and start eating better. Take these tips for natural libido intervention to heart – before you try the little blue pill.
Karen Hawthorne is managing editor at Health eTalk and BelMarraHealth.com. Karen has worked for the National Post, Postmedia News, CBC Radio Vancouver, the Edmonton Journal, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and the Cobourg Daily Star, reporting on health news and lifestyle trends for over 15 years.
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