If you’ve been experiencing a low libido lately, it’s not all in your head. Here’s how to get help.
Virtually every disease can be accompanied by fatigue, anxiety, pain, or insomnia -all of which can mess up a healthy sex life.
Anything that alters hormones, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or menopause, can be problematic. Hormones and neurotransmitters need to get to the right places in the body, so medical issues that compromise blood flow can affect arousal and orgasm. And nerves need to respond and muscles need to contract (and relax!), which is why neurologic problems such as herniated discs and multiple sclerosis have an impact. Plus, some medications may create bigger sexual problems than the illnesses themselves.
The list below, while not even close to comprehensive, shows some of the hidden ways in which a medical condition can sabotage your sex life.
Heart Disease: Heart disease is the number one killer of women and also a top killer of sexual function. But don’t be concerned that a bedroom romp might set off another heart attack. Having sex with your regular partner in your own bedroom barely bumps up your resting heart rate. OK, that’s a little depressing, but also one fewer libido-lowering worry.
Depression and Antidepressants: Depression (and even the drugs used to treat it) can profoundly affect libido and arousal; in fact, loss of libido can be the first sign of the illness. Women with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or psychosis also often have issues that can be directly related to medication.
Multiple Sclerosis: MS is a chronic disease that damages the protective coating around nerves, and that damage can cause sensory problems among other symptoms. In one study, 62% of women with MS reported loss of genital sensation, and 32% reported loss of orgasm.
Diabetes: Diabetes can damage the circulatory and nervous systems, which in turn puts women who have the disease at risk for low libido, diminished arousal, sexual pain, and the inability to have an orgasm. The capillaries, required to produce vaginal lubrication, are particularly vulnerable, so it’s no surprise that dryness is a common sexual issue in diabetic women.
Arthritis: Consider how hard it could be for someone with limited mobility to get into and hold common sexual positions. For some women with severe arthritis, even separating their legs wide enough to have intercourse is impossible. The mechanics and ergonomics of sexuality can be challenging.
How to Get Help: All this may seem daunting, and your doctor may not bring up these issues. But rest assured that there are resources for dealing with every one of these obstacles, which vary depending on what’s causing your issues. Don’t be shy in pressing your doctor for a specialist referral.
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