Recently, a colleague forwarded a link to Sarah Hosseini’s blog entry “The Night I Gave My Husband a Free Pass“. The column, discussions and comments on the subject were fascinating. Sarah’s confession and thoughts on sex (specifically, her lack of desire and its impact on her marriage) struck a nerve in men and women alike.
As a woman and as a doctor, I’ve lived it both personally and professionally. I’m here to confirm that this issue is real, it’s quite common, and it’s treatable. Don’t give up.
Even though Sarah had two babies 16 months apart, and can pinpoint her lack of desire from this time, her doctor told her that her hormone levels were fine. I suspect that they are not, and unfortunately, this is another all too common issue.
Gynecologists treat women for a large portion of their lives, and public perception is that gynecologists are women’s health experts. Sorry, no. They’re surgeons and they like to deliver babies. They’re not taught any more about hormones than a general practice physician. It’s baffling to me, especially since hormones play such a large part in a specialty based around fertility, reproductive health and family planning.
YOU’RE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE HORMONE ISSUES
You’d think that medical school would be the best place to get good information about hormonal imbalances and treatment options, but you would be wrong.
I met my first husband while I was in my second year of medical school and he was in his fourth. By the time I completed my residency in Internal Medicine, we were divorced.
I wasn’t feeling great, and I most definitely wasn’t feeling like me. I was moody and tired all the time. I didn’t want to have sex. I was anxious and bordering on depression. My heart would race with palpitations. I was struggling to retain information – it didn’t seem as easy as it once did. Meanwhile, I was on birth control pills, which I had no idea were making things worse for me.
“You’re too young to have hormonal issues” is exactly what I heard from my doctor. The pressures of working 36-hour shifts made it easy to blame everything on my residency. Looking back now, I realize I also had hot flashes and night sweats – all the typical symptoms associated with menopause. But I was only in my twenties, so how could that even be possible?
While my husband and I didn’t know it at the time, during our entire relationship and marriage I was in perimenopause, and becoming hormonally deficient. It was a major factor in the erosion and eventual breakdown of our marriage.
YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVIN’ FEELING
When there is little or no appetite for sexual intimacy by one partner, the relationship becomes more vulnerable to extramarital affairs. Most occur out of opportunity. For example, your partner wants more of a sexual relationship with you but is continually rebuffed, and then finds an attentive and interested party. Or, like Sarah, you might begin feeling guilty, and consider issuing your partner a “hall pass.”
With lack of physical intimacy, partners will tend to become more and more distant. Communication decreases and in turn, conflicts increase, further draining your relationship. You stop being an intimate team and become the “Bickering Bickersons” or worse, two people who simply happen to live together.
These feelings have a biological basis.
TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY IN WOMEN
The hallmarks of testosterone deficiency include low libido, weight gain, low libido, anxiety, low libido, depression, and did I mention low libido? Mood swings, memory loss, sugar cravings and a “beer belly” appearance from weight gain. It usually starts in the mid- to late-30s, but certain medications, illnesses and genetics can cause it to begin sooner. Having children can also complicate things.
It’s inevitable that these issues will spill over into our relationships, and the most adversely affected area is our love life. According to Virginia Kelley, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in relationships and intimacy: “Simply stated, couples who are the happiest tend to be those with good sex lives.”
Studies show that intimacy and desire fuel feelings of love within a relationship. You don’t have to settle for putting the sexual part of your relationship on the back burner, hoping that love outlasts the lack of physical intimacy.
By replacing testosterone in women (or men), libido increases, the sex drive is restored and emotional and physical connections between partners are reestablished.
I’ve seen couples rekindle their feelings for each other and return to enjoying fulfilling, intimate lives, simply through hormone replacement therapy.
While not all relationships are meant to last, it’s important that you know the facts and make the choice that’s right for you.
Recognize these symptoms? We can help. Call DeRosa Medical at 480.619.4097.