How do you restart your sex drive and will a hormone test help?
May 9, 2011 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out what to do about my nonexistent sex drive and if this hormone test will help me.

I'm female, in my late 20s, physically healthy, not depressed, and married to a great guy. No kids, both of our careers are in good places, and overall we're very happy and have a strong relationship. I've ruled out medications and hormonal birth control as the source of the problem.

My sex drive started disappearing a little while after we moved in together, about 5 years ago. Eventually it got to the point where he was tired of being rejected and we both learned to live around it. Both of us would like to have more sex but I just don't have any desire or sexual feelings- and I have had them in the past. I recently acknowledged it was a big enough problem to seek therapy and my therapist recommended a hormone test to rule out any potential physical problems.

I contacted my OB-GYN and she and I discussed my options. She stressed that she would be happy to give me the test but there were a few things I should know:

-It probably wouldn't be covered by insurance. (Not that big of a deal to me, but there it is.)

-Since I take hormonal birth control my levels will be off from my base levels. I could go off the birth control temporarily (which would mean my painful ovarian cysts would return) or stay on it and take the test on my "off" week when the levels would be closer to normal but still effected.

-Since there are such a wide range of "normal" levels, the odds of finding something outside of the normal range are very, very small. It doesn't even mean that hormones aren't the problem, it just means they won't come up in the abnormal range that would justify hormone therapy. My doctor also felt that if my hormones were that out of wack I would probably have additional symptoms too.

-My doctor feels that there is a lack of research on loss of sex drive in pre-menopausal women. The current thinking seems to be that it's more likely to be an emotional/mental issue than a physical one. I'm still seeing my therapist and she doesn't feel that couples therapy is necessary in our case.

At this point I'm angry with what feels like a sexist lack of research on the subject, I'm frustrated with myself and my inability to just get over it, and I'm increasingly sad about missing out on such a fundamental part of life and my relationship.

So should I take the hormone test? If so, what should I do about the birth control? Is there something else I'm missing that I could do? I'm happy to hear any advice, particularly from people who are familiar with research on the subject or have been through this themselves.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I'm sorry you're going through this.

I'm going to address only the "should I take the test" thing. Some of the best advice I ever got was from someone who told me, when I was dithering about whether to ask someone for something because I was afraid of the answer, that "well, even if he does give you the answer you don't want, at least that way you'll have information, whereas the problem you're having right now is that you don't have information. Having information is always good, no matter what that information is."

If you take the test, you will then have information. And having information is always good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've ruled out medications and hormonal birth control as the source of the problem.

Since I take hormonal birth control my levels will be off from my base levels.

To me, these two sentences appear contradictory. How is it that you ruled out birth control as the source of your problem? And if you really have done that somehow, then it shouldn't matter when you take the test, right?
posted by amro at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

My doctor also felt that if my hormones were that out of wack I would probably have additional symptoms too.

Your doctor may not be right about this point. They can see things in a 'flow chart' way and not see the complexities.

If you take the test, and the level doesn't justify treatment as far as the doctor is concerned there may be steps you can take yourself with lifestyle herbs and's worth knowing.
posted by Not Supplied at 10:41 AM on May 9, 2011

I can understand that you would want to stay on the hormonal birth control because of the painful ovarian cysts, but...well...there are a lot of anecdotal stories about a correlation between stopping the pill and an increase in libido. I certainly experienced this when I stopped the pill because I was trying to get pregnant. (And I think my libido is better than it was on the pill now that I've got a Mirena, instead.)

How have you ruled out the birth control as a potential source of the problem?
posted by leahwrenn at 11:29 AM on May 9, 2011

From the OP:
"About the birth control thing- I've taken over a year off hormonal birth control hoping it would fix the problem. During that time I just dealt with the resulting ovarian cysts as best I could. The result was no sex drive and crippling pain- without even a slight up-tick in libido. I have no desire to go back to that without some kind of result and IUDs have been shown to exacerbate cysts, so that's not really an option for me."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:15 PM on May 9, 2011

Have you tried another kind of hormonal birth control? Lo-Ovral killed my sex drive, Ortho TriCyclen didn't affect it at all, and Nuvaring sends it into overdrive.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:35 PM on May 9, 2011

I have ovarian cysts, too; I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Some ideas: when you were off hormonal birth control, did you try anything like
1) topical progesterone cream (usually applied days 14-28 of your cycle)
2) losing weight (if you had weight to lose)
3) getting your thyroid levels tested (full panel, with antibody testing)
4) supplementation (hormonal birth control can deplete vitamin B6 and folic acid, for example) (or trying the European standardized vitex supplement Femaprin that gets recommended on a lot on this PCOS board)

as a means to reducing the cysts?

Hormonal birth control (and I tried several brands) killed my sex drive when I was young, and Femaprin and stress-B complex have helped with my cysts lately. (I also avoid gluten and eat lower-carb, and have some apple cider vinegar in apple cinnamon tea at least every other day (per this folk remedy site), if you're looking for other things to try.)

Stay angry, even though it's exhausting! I think you need to prioritize yourself as a sexual being, and I wish you all the best.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:35 PM on May 9, 2011

Take the test. And keep getting tested. Maybe the cysts are the cause or result of something affecting your hormones. Unexpected illnesses can affect libido, and have treatment.
posted by theora55 at 8:48 PM on May 9, 2011

Hi there. I just wanted to ask you if you FEEL sexy? Do you get turned on at all ever? I lost my sex drive there for a while and I couldn't work it out as I use to want to have sex all the time then after about a year with my boyfriend I just never wanted to have sex. After I got out of my relationship I realised I was actually unhappy and didn't feel sexy about myself. I started spending more time on making myself feel sexy by exercising and eating well and changing my image a bit and putting in more effort in my appearance. I also went to a family doctor friend who took some blood tests to see if I was low in certain vitamins etc and he put me on a thing called DHEA and since i've been taking this and started looking after myself a little better, my sex drive has gone mental. (I'm 27 by the way). It might not only be a hormonal imbalance but en emotional barrier, so maybe have a bit of a make-over and experiment with some new sex moves or buy some sexy underwear to surprise your husband. Maybe this might help....
posted by emmy83 at 10:33 PM on June 24, 2011

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