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A Woman's Guide to Reviving Sex Drive

As baby boomers age, more and more women report they've lost their sex drive. But experts say it may just be matter of knowing where to look.

That said, the picture is not as grim as one might think. Experts WebMD consulted suggest talking to your doctor about the following:

A blood test for low thyroid function and iron deficiency anemia, two common disorders that can affect sex drive.

Discuss whether or not you may be suffering from low-level depression-- which can affect libido. If you are already taking an SSRI antidepressant drug, discuss switching to another type of medication, which won't dampen sex drive. Some studies show that taking Viagra in this setting may improve sexual desire.

Localized estrogen therapy. Placing estrogen directly into the vagina soothes vaginal tissue, and allows the secretions necessary for comfortable sex and possibly even an increase in sexual desire, says Goldstein. Unlike oral estrogens that carry some cancer risks, he says estrogens applied locally to the vagina are generally safe. They are available as suppository tablets, creams, or "rings," which sit inside the vagina and give off small doses of the hormone over time.

Compounded testosterone cream. Many compounding pharmacies (they make medicines from scratch) offer testosterone creams and gels, but you'll need a doctor's prescription. Corio says they can be applied to the vagina to increase sensation, or to the clitoris to increase orgasm.

Vitamin E. When used locally in the vagina it can help rehydrate tissue and may possibly increase sensation. No need for a prescription here; Corio says just stick a pin in a vitamin E capsule and apply to the vagina several times a week, even if you're not having sex. And be sure to use a lubricant when you are having sex – either vitamin E or a commercially prepared product such as K-Y Jelly or Astroglide.

Zestra. A small, placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 2003 showed that when used as a genital massage oil, this proprietary blend of botanicals (including borage seed and evening primrose oils, Angelica root and vitamins C and E) provided a statistically significant increase in arousal, desire, genital stimulation, ability to orgasm, and pleasure, in 20 women with or without sexual desire problems. The treatment also worked equally well on women using SSRI antidepressant medicines.

ArginMax. In a study of 77 women, a controlled double blind study found the nutritional supplement ArginMax increased sexual desire and satisfaction in more than twice the number of women taking placebo. The research was published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 2001.

Before using supplements, you should first have a discussion with your doctor, as side effects or drug interactions can occur.

Don't Be Driven by Declining Sex Drive

As frustrating as a lagging libido can be for some women, for others, it can simply be a rite of passage to a quieter, gentler time. In fact, Goldstein says that for many women, and their partners, a lessened sex drive is not a problem and is often replaced by other intimate and bonding experiences.

As such, Goldstein reminds us that a reduced need for sex and a declining drive are not medical problems -- and if they don't cause you distress, there is no need to seek treatment.

"Just because your sex drive is different, doesn't mean there is something wrong or that you have to try and fix it. If less sex isn't bothering you, your partner, or your relationship, then take heart -- you are maturing in the way nature intended," says Goldstein.

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