A lack of intimacy can quickly upend an otherwise rock-solid relationship. And this is not a groundless statement rooted in hyperbole but rather a fact substantiated by numerous studies. In one study, in particular, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers revealed that a correlation does exist between frequent sexual activity and feelings of wellbeing among couples in long-term relationships. And this goes a long way toward explaining why “Sexual Healing,” a soulful song from the late rhythm and blues singer Marvin Gaye, continues to resonate with so many couples despite being released in the 1980s. Indeed, there is something special about the physical expression of love between a man and a woman.
Why Does Sex Drive Become Lower and Disappear?
While emotions and physical attraction both play a part in wanting to be intimate with another, libido is also part of the equation, say most endocrinologists. And this is where the endocrine system comes into the picture. For just a little bit of context, the endocrine system is a network of hormone-secreting glands that regulate numerous functions in the body, including libido levels. The pituitary gland, which sits close to the hypothalamus and is part of the endocrine system, is responsible for secreting human growth hormones (HGH). Before discussing the relationship between HGH and libido, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with the hypothalamus. After all, it has a lot to do with the emotional yearning for intimacy.
The hypothalamus, located at the base of the brain, acts as the master switchboard for the entire endocrine system and allows the body to carry out numerous functions, including the release of human growth hormones by the pituitary gland. Because the hypothalamus is one of the four main parts of the limbic system, the other three being the amygdala, the thalamus, and hippocampus, it plays an integral role in controlling emotional responses. And arousal and desire for intimacy, both of which are emotional responses, are no exception. As far as the physical response, this is where human growth hormones and libido come into the picture. In short, HGH and libido levels go hand-in-hand. Therefore, as far as it’s one of many growth hormone benefits, the higher the HGH levels, the higher the libido levels and vice versa. That said, it is not uncommon for a growth hormone deficiency to give way to low libido, which can quickly douse the flames of desire that would otherwise exist between a man and a woman.
What Happens to Our Sex Life With Age?
“With age comes wisdom” is not only an age-old expression but also a fundamental truth since it is through life experiences and hard-learned lessons that we become wiser with each passing year. However, getting older also means being greeted with changes in our physical health. And some of these changes can take a devastating toll on our sex life. To put all of this into context, we need only look at what happens to our HGH levels as we get older. Studies show that normal human growth hormone levels are between 0.4 to 10 and 1 to 14 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) for adult men and women, respectively. Generally speaking, GH levels within this range translate to a healthy libido. Unfortunately, starting at around age 30, HGH levels can decline by as much as 15 percent every decade. Once HGH levels dip below 0.4 ng/mL, most men and women will struggle with low libido.
While we are on the topic, it is worth noting that testosterone and estrogen hormones, which male and female bodies alike can produce, also have a say in our libido levels as we age. For reference, normal testosterone levels are between 280 and 1,100 and 15 and 70 ng/mL for men and women, respectively. As far as estrogen is concerned, normal estrogen levels in women are somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 400 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL). Meanwhile, levels between 10 to 50 pg/mL are healthy and normal for men. Unfortunately, the human body produces fewer growth hormones, testosterone, and estrogen as we age. And when these hormone levels fall too low, they can all take a toll on libido and overall sexual desire. When it comes to men, specifically, low testosterone levels can also give way to erectile dysfunction.
How to Reverse a Decline in Sexual Desire?
If a hormone imbalance, namely low growth hormone, testosterone, or estrogen levels, is responsible for dousing the flames of desire between a man and a woman, HRT, otherwise known as hormone replacement therapy, can help rekindle those flames. For example, studies show that HRT, which involves taking GH replacement medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can increase low GH levels, which, in turn, helps with low libido. Some of these medications include the following:
Additionally, if low estrogen levels are contributing to low libido, which is a common occurrence among menopausal women, an endocrinologist may prescribe the following:
It is worth noting that the estrogen replacement drugs detailed in this article are for women. Men with low estrogen levels, on the other hand, are usually advised by their physician to take a testosterone replacement drug, which can help boost both testosterone and estrogen levels at the same time. One of the most effective and prescribed by most endocrinologists is Androderm. According to a study published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, this particular testosterone replacement drug is 92 percent effective in boosting low testosterone levels in men.
Resolving Hormone Imbalances Naturally
While testosterone, growth hormone, and estrogen replacement drugs all do a terrific job in terms of resolving hormone imbalances, there are natural remedies that can help in this regard as well. For example, studies show that exercising regularly, consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet, and taking the following dietary supplements can boost low GH levels and strengthen libido:
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
The following dietary supplements, coupled with exercising regularly and consuming a healthy diet, can also boost low testosterone while improving libido in the process:
- Vitamin D
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
Keeping Your Partner Hot: How to Enjoy Sex in Your Elder Years
In summary, along with wisdom, aging can open the door to numerous health problems that invariably take a toll on our overall quality of life. And the ability to express physical love is no exception. However, this does not mean older adults have to resign themselves to a hollow and unfulfilling relationship. After all, there is much more to intimacy than sex alone. Making it a point to convey to your significant other how much you value them and even spending a few minutes holding hands or kissing are intimate moments that anyone could appreciate. And as far as getting physical, the medications, supplements, and lifestyle changes detailed in this article have proven remarkably effective for many older couples.