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Expert Advice: ‘My Sex Drive Dropped. Is There a Natural Option Instead of Hormone Replacement Therapy?’

"Your doctor is likely correct in identifying declining hormones as the culprit."

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In the wake of perimenopause, many women develop brand new problems and challenges. For some women, that includes low libido. A low sex drive is a sneaky symptom of perimenopause and menopause, but it’s not one that should be ignored. Everyone deserves to have a healthy sex life well past middle age, and it can and should be treated.

To help you on your own journey, read the below advice our expert, Dr. Barbara DePree, had for one of our FIRST readers.

Meet our expert.

Barbara DePree, MD, is a gynecologist in private practice and director of Women’s Midlife Services at Michigan’s Holland Hospital. A Certified Menopause Practitioner, she is the founder of MiddlesexMD.com, an educational resource for women’s sexual health in perimenopause and beyond. To ask her a question, send an email to health@firstforwomen.com.

Advice for Low Libido

Q: My sex drive has taken a nosedive since entering perimenopause. I’m 48 and in great health other than high blood pressure managed with medication. My doctor prescribed hormone therapy but I’d rather try something natural. Can you help?

A: Yes! You’re certainly not alone. Up to 53 percent of menopausal women report low sex drive. Your doctor is likely correct in identifying declining hormones as the culprit. In addition to estrogen loss, waning testosterone levels (androgen sex hormone) begin years before entering menopause. Although testosterone therapy for women isn’t approved by the FDA, in my practice, very low doses can be used successfully to treat low libido. But since you’re seeking a natural approach, there are foods I suggest to target the issue.

Oysters are famously known as a libido-boosting food. Why? They’re high in zinc, a crucial trace mineral for testosterone production. In fact, just two cooked oysters contain 158 percent of the daily value. But if you’re not a fan, other shellfish such as crab, clams, and lobster are also good choices. Since these options may be pricey, other foods that boost zinc levels include beef, roasted turkey, lentils, firm tofu, pumpkin seeds, cashews, low-fat yogurt, and oatmeal. Or consider supplementing with 50 milligrams of zinc daily, especially if your blood pressure medication contains a thiazide diuretic (common in many hypertension meds). Thiazide diuretics cause a zinc shortfall because the mineral is depleted when the kidneys flush out excess fluid. Be sure to review any prescriptions and supplements with your doctor.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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