Infertility, Intimacy and “Homework Fatigue”

The inability to conceive can take a couple on an emotional roller-coaster ride. In addition, infertility has also been shown to be a risk factor for female sexual dysfunction.

A case-control study was conducted with 119 infertile woman and 99 healthy female controls without infertility between the ages of 18 and 45.  It was found that the group of infertile women had a lower score in desire, arousal and a lower frequency of sexual encounters. It followed that their satisfaction was also lower. Why does this happen?

When the goal is pregnancy, there is only a 24 hour window of opportunity each cycle.  That is, the egg is viable for 24 hours while the sperm is viable for 72 hours.  Sex on demand eliminates any spontaneity.  The focus of sex becomes conception, rather than pleasure. All this can lead to pressure to perform and conceive which may lead to less satisfaction.

Infertility can also affect a woman’s sense of herself and her sexual identity.  Males accordingly may be affected and become depressed, experience performance anxiety, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.

Now add in the effects of certain fertility medications. Although the effects are short lived, these drugs may have to be used repeatedly. They suppress ovulation for IVF cycles and can cause decreased libido along with vaginal dryness and pain.  Drugs like Clomiphene (Clomid) are used to induce ovulation but can cause nausea, breast tenderness, hot flashes and mood swings.  This is certainly not a great way to “bring sexy back!”

What to do?  Talk with your doctor.  There may be alternatives to certain medications. Talk with your partner. Just being aware of possible concerns may help.  If necessary, seek the counsel of a therapist who is knowledgeable about sexual issues.  When lovemaking has to be an assignment, remember how pleasurable impromptu sex can be, that it isn’t always going to be about procreation.

Keep your eyes on the prize and realize that you can turn that roller coaster ride into the tunnel of love!

Menopause, Painful Sex and a New Solution

Menopause.  What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word?  Chances are good you think of hot flashes.  Certainly, hot flashes are part of the mid-life change and for some women, they can be quite bothersome.  However, there is another condition associated with menopause that can be even more bothersome and quite painful.  It is vulvovaginal atrophy, which causes burning, itching and at times, bleeding.  Unfortunately, many women are too embarrassed to discuss this matter with their health care providers.  Ladies, let’s turn this around. There is no need to suffer!

Painful sex in and around the time of menopause is often due to the natural decline of estrogen, which makes vaginal tissue thinner, drier and less elastic.  The result?  For many women, sex becomes uncomfortable and sometimes impossible.  Insufficient lubrication can cause tearing of vaginal tissues during intercourse.  Anxiety and frustration may also take its toll and cause future arousal difficulties or a halt to sex altogether. It is estimated that 20%-45% of middle-aged and older women are affected by these symptoms.

Prescription remedies are available in the form of vaginal estrogen rings, tablets and topical creams.  The estrogen used in these products is low dosage and a much lower risk than estrogen pills used in hormonal replacement therapy. There is a low rate of absorption into the bloodstream. For those who prefer a nonhormonal alternative, an over the counter lubricant like K-Y Jelly, or moisturizer such as Replens, can be helpful.

Recently, the FDA approved Osphena, the first nonhormonal pill, taken once a day to treat moderate to severe sexual pain.  This drug mimics estrogen on some tissues and is in a class of medications called selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMS.  In the vagina and uterus, it acts like estrogen and can relieve sexual discomfort

Yes, there are side effects with Osphena as with all medications.  They include vaginal discharge, blood clots and stroke.  It is always important to check with your doctor, be honest, ask questions and weigh the risks.  For those who want a non-estrogen alternative and prefer swallowing a pill over the messiness of applying a cream, Osphena may the right answer for you.

It is always important to talk with your doctor and get regular checkups. Remember, good health starts with you.  A comfortable and happy sexual relationship is part of the total package!

The Surprises of Sex!

As it turns out, some research suggests that having sex may not only be purely for pleasure. In fact, some studies are suggesting that having sex is actually beneficial to your health. Sex is not a magic remedy to all health issues, but if one is having safe sex, they may begin to see the benefits psychologically, emotionally and physically. Feeling stressed? Sex can help. Having trouble sleeping? Grab your partner and do some research.  Dr. Renee Horowitz weighs in on this stimulating research during a conversation on HuffPost Live. Click here to learn more!

 

Snow, Fire and STDs?

You might have heard the expression – “Just because there’s snow on the roof doesn’t mean there’s no fire in the furnace!”  Advanced medical techniques and new drugs have made it possible for us to live longer and it’s no doubt that most of us would love to stay healthy into our golden years. That includes keeping those embers burning brightly in the intimacy department.

The creation of drugs for erectile dysfunction have helped to keep those “home fires” stoked. However, along with the increased chances of sexual activity there is an alarming uptick in sexually transmitted diseases within a demographic not usually associated with such behavior.

For more information, click here.

Simple Sex Tip: Timing Is Everything

Whether you want to jumpstart your struggling sex life or up the ante on your already-great one, here’s a simple sex tip to keep in mind. 

Timing is everything:  This comes back to communication.  We all have our own rhythms; some people like sex in the morning, some at night, some three times a week and for some once a month is enough.  Talk to your partner.  When do they desire it most?  After a long day at work, it may be relaxing for some, but for others it may feel like a second job. 

And what if you have kids who happen to crawl into your bed at night?  It’s no fun if your child comes bounding through the door (or you can’t quiet your mind because you’re worried your child will come bounding through the door).

I’m not suggesting you schedule it out (though many couples do), but knowing when sex works for your partner can help, especially if you’re feeling like you’re getting shot down over and over because you’re initiating sex at the wrong time (for your partner’s libido). 

You and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye on the magic hour?  It’s no secret and you’ve heard it a million times before: compromise.

Simple Tip for a Satisfying Sex Life

Whether you want to jumpstart your struggling sex life or up the ante on your already-great one, here’s a simple tip to keep in mind. 

Novelty:  Anything can become routine, whether it’s work, food or sex.  Mixing in some surprising elements can really liven things up.  Now, for the timid temptress, we aren’t suggesting you go to extremes, but simply changing the environment (ditch the bed, hit the floor), introducing new toys,  wearing new lingerie (whether it’s sweet lace or sexy leather) can totally transform everyday sex into exhilarating sex.   As a point of reference, 75 percent of all heterosexual couples have sex on Saturday night between 11 and 11:30 p.m.  Stand out from the statistics and get it on before work or during a lazy Sunday afternoon.  

If you think this is all hype, look at the facts.  Change in routine scientifically improves our sex life because of a chemical called dopamine.  When we alter things, our brains release dopamine, an excitatory neurotransmitter that makes us want to have sex, become more aroused and get to that magic place. 

How’s that for hard evidence?