Sexual Health: Revving Up Women's Sex Drive (cont.)

Looking Within

Changes in lifestyle, attitude, and relationships may not be bought in drugstores, but experts say they hold keys to unlocking libido woes.

"For women, sex drive is critically dependent on being healthy and really feeling good about a relationship. There will never be anything that we'll be able to pull out of our medicine cabinet that will be more important than those two things," says Shifren.

Part of being physically and emotionally healthy is having a sensible dose of realism. It's normal to have low libido, says Ellison. In fact, she says it's unrealistic to expect to feel a burst of desire all the time, as shown on TV.

In real life, where people are in long-term, one-on-one relationships with jobs, commutes, and kids, she says sexual drive isn't always present.

Instead of looking for libido, Ellison recommends creating opportunities to make time together special. "Maybe what you need to look for is a way to be more interested in your partner," she says.

Taking part in enjoyable activities such as walking with a partner, listening to music, having a glass of wine, taking a bath, or reading a romance novel can also help put women in the mood for sex. These activities can help women shift into their "sex self" from their role as mother, wife, employer, or employee, says Ellison.

It would also help women to be more pleasure-oriented rather than goal-oriented with sex. "Right now we have women fitting into a male linear model of sexual response: desire, arousal, and orgasm. But women don't work that way," says Whipple. "Sometimes holding someone's hand and being held and kissed is all [women] want, and it feels good. So enjoy that. Enjoy what you enjoy."

Published July 26, 2004.

SOURCES: Sandra Lieblum, PhD, director, Center for Sexual and Relationship Health, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey. Beverly Whipple, PhD, RN, FAAN, vice president, World Association for Sexology. Jean Koehler, PhD, licensed family and marriage therapist, Louisville, Ky.; and past president, American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Jan Shifren, MD, director, Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology Service Menopause Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. Mary Lake Polan, MD, PhD, MPH, professor and chair, ob-gyn, Stanford University School of Medicine. Carol Rinkleib Ellison, PhD, psychologist; and author, Women's Sexualities. The Journal of the American Medical Association: Feb. 10, 1999. WebMD Feature: "Why Women Lose Interest in Sex." WebMD Medical News: Viagra Improves Sex for Some Women." Yahoo! News: "P&G Female Sexual Desire Patch Effective in Trial." Procter & Gamble web site. MedlinePlus Drug Information. WebMD Medical News: "Drug Improves Women's Sexual Desire." ArginMax web site. Zestra for Women web site.

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