Posts made in February, 2010

Sex: all it takes is a litle stretch and breath

Posted by on Feb 5, 2010 in sexual desire, sexual health | 2 comments

Have I got your attention? Add a little stretch and breath into your life. And you may find that sexual desire and satisfaction return.

The actual existence of sexual disorders such as FSD (female sexual disorder, also known as HSDD) been disputed, although there is no question that many women experience significant declines in desire , ample lubrication or the ability to achieve orgasm as they enter menopause. And as I’ve written previously,context is also very important.

One missing link in many of these discussions is how mood comes into play. Ask yourself: did you feel sexual the last time you were especially anxious or stressed? Not surprisingly, numerous studies have been written on how stress of any kind can negatively contribute to sexual function. Hence, it’s no wonder that researchers are now saying that yoga may be helpful for improving sexual function and sexual disorders, in women.

Yoga is a wonderful panacea for many aspect of our lives, helping to refocus our minds, building inner and outer strength and evidently, improving sexual function and sexual disorders. In a small study published late last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers found significant improvements among women who were enrolled in a yoga camp for a 12-week period. Comparisons of responses to a sexual function questionnaire before and after yoga camp showed improvements in desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain; this improvement was more pronounced among women older than age 45 compared to their younger peers.

The improvements in sexual functioning may be linked to yoga’s positive effect on stress and anxiety, especially in association with sex.

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Wednesday Bubble: 5-HTP

Posted by on Feb 3, 2010 in hot flash | 1 comment

With increasing evidence that hormone replacement therapy significantly increases the risk for breast and ovarian and deaths from lung cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke and other conditions, researchers are constantly looking for effective replacements to address the troublesome symptoms of menopause. Any regular reader of this blog knows that I wholeheartedly support the quest and devote my time to providing evidence-based information on alternatives.

Of late, there’s been a lot of interest in the use of antidepressants, in particular, the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), in managing hot flashes. Study results vary, although paroxetine (better known as Paxil) has been probably studied most extensively and shown to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. On the other hand, SSRIs have also been possibly implicated in heart disease during menopause. So, it is a crapshoot.

Is there a safer form? For example, is the herbal form of the precursor to serotonin — 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) – as effective SSRIs in reducing hot flashes?

Evidently, the answer is no.

In a very small study among menopausal women who reported hot flashes, researchers compared the effects of 5-HTP (150 mg taken daily) to placebo on hot flash frequency. At this particular dose, no significant effects were seen. In fact, on average, women had about the same number of flashes before and after the study.

Sad to burst this bubble because I am a fan of 5-HTP. At the moment, however, it looks as though you’ll need to try a prescription antidepressant if you choose to go that route to address hot flash symptoms.

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She’s hot. She’s cool…

Posted by on Feb 1, 2010 in herbal medicine, hot flash | 0 comments

St. John’s Wort can cool down those hot flashes?! Yes, you may want to pay attention as a new study appearing in the February issue of Menopause, may help to cool those hot flashes.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you may recall that I wrote previously about St. John’s Wort and its potential role for improving quality of life, sleep disturbances and hot flashes. The latest bit of information suggests that daily use of St. John’s Wort extract among menopausal women resulted in significant declines in the number of daily hot flashes by as much as 50% through eight weeks of treatment compared to women taking only placebo. Daily St. John’s Wort also reduced both the length of time that flashes lasted as well as their severity. At the start of the study, women were experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes at least once daily. Importantly, women taking placebo also experienced declines in hot flash frequency, although not to the same extent as those taking St. John’s Wort.

What you should know…

St. John’s Wort, while generally considered safe, should be used cautiously. As I wrote last year, experts recommend against taking St. John’s Wort at the same time as alcohol, narcotics, amphetamines, tyrosine supplements, flu medicines and foods containing tyramine (e.g. yeast, aged cheese, eggplant, soy sauce). St. John’s Wort can also interact with prescription antidepressants, oral contraceptives and certain medications that thin the blood. More information about St. John’s Wort, its side effects and risks can be found here.

As with any herbal preparation, it’s critical to speak to a healthcare practitioner before embarking on therapy.

For more information on this study, as well as some comments by the researchers, check out Reuters Health’s coverage of the same study.

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