Harvard Men's Health Watch

On call: Wife's disinterest in sex

On call

Wife's disinterest in sex

Q. My wife and I, who both read your column, have always enjoyed our intimate relations. Since she went through the change last year, however, she's lost interest in sex. She's only 53, and although I'm 8 years older, I'm as amorous as ever. Do you have any suggestions for us?

A. We're glad to have you both as readers; in many households, after all, it's women who watch over men's health.

Doctors have learned a lot about the male sexual response in the Viagra era, but there is less information about female sexuality. Menopause signals an abrupt drop in female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, but that shouldn't affect the female sex drive. In fact, libido depends on testosterone, the male hormone, in both men and women. Testosterone levels are very much lower in women than men, but they drop even lower as menopause approaches, then remain stable during and after menopause as the adrenal glands continue to produce small amounts of male hormones. Still, some women are testosterone deficient and might benefit from testosterone therapy. Unfortunately, however, data are scant, and much more research is needed to learn if testosterone is safe and effective — and if it is, which women should receive it and what dose and preparations are best. At present, those answers are a long way off; in fact, the same questions about testosterone replacement remain to be answered for men.

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