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Desire and Menopause
April 2001

Q. I am 53 and haven't had a menstrual period for about 3 years. I pretty much went through menopause with no serious symptoms. My problem is a lack of sexual desire. My husband and I were very active and now I have no desire. I was wondering if there were any treatment or natural solutions to this problem, such as plant estrogen, or vitamin supplements. I don't really want to take drugs. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Menopause is defined as the cessation of menses (Menstrual periods). It is due to loss of ovarian function with age. Hence, there is estrogen deficiency. This often causes the hot flashes, mood swings, atrophy of the breasts and genitals, osteoporosis (thin bones), and premature heart disease. It is possible your decrease libido may be due to estrogen deficiency, although other possibilities should be excluded, such as thyroid disease.

The treatment of choice for menopause is estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). If you still have your uterus, you also should receive progesterone, to decrease the risk of endometrial cancer. There may also be a small increase risk of breast cancer. The benefit for osteoporosis is well established. There are also several studies showing cardiovascular benefit of ERT. Prempro is one of the most commonly used forms of ERT.

There are several other options for menopause treatment, but most are not as beneficial as ERT. Soybean contains some derivative of estrogen and may be better than nothing in alleviating some of the symptoms of menopause. However, the other longer term benefits of ERT have not been proven with "natural remedies". You should discuss these options with your doctor.

Good luck.

Ref: http://www.aoa.dhhs.gov/aoa/pages/agepages/hormone.html

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