Men and women seek bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for a variety of reasons, but reviving sex lives often plays a major role in this decision for both genders. Loss of libido can be a primary concern for women entering menopause and men entering andropause – the male equivalent of menopause. Fortunately, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can have many positive effects for people undergoing these changes, including restoration of sexual desire.
Menopause can cause numerous sexual issues for women, such as vaginal dryness and subsequent pain during intercourse. Bioidentical estrogen replacement therapy offers several options for women combating vaginal dryness and a lack of sexual desire.
Women may choose estrogen replacement therapy in the form of tablets, intradermal pellets, or patches. Topical estrogen creams and gels applied to the vagina can help increase lubrication, allowing women to enjoy sex without pain. Likewise, a vaginal ring that provides a continuous, low dose of estrogen can relieve vaginal dryness and atrophy symptoms for some women, allowing them to maintain active and satisfying sex lives.
A study published in 2017 tracked 270 women ranging in age from 42 to 58 who had become menopausal within the prior three years. Participants were given one of the following options: an estrogen patch, estrogen pills, or a placebo. Before the study commenced, women filled out a survey about their sexual function that included questions about libido, pain, and satisfaction.
At the conclusion of the four-year study, it was determined that the women receiving estrogen through a patch has the most improvement in sexual function, especially regarding pain and dryness. The study found that estrogens administered orally improved mood more than sexual function.
Not only do men with low testosterone levels experience loss of libido, but they may have fewer spontaneous erections or suffer from erectile dysfunction. While men with normal testosterone levels are not likely to see an improvement in erectile function from supplemental testosterone, men with low testosterone levels often do experience benefits. Testosterone replacement therapy is available in injectable, patch, gel, and cream forms.
Normal testosterone levels range from 300 to 1,000 nanograms for each deciliter of blood. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men whose testosterone levels rose from about 230 to 500—a change from low levels to about mid-range—via testosterone replacement therapy reported increased sex drives.
The study found little increase in sex drive in those men using testosterone replacement therapy whose levels were within the normal range. However, many men whose testosterone levels are low but within the standard range report an increased sex drive, so results depend on the individual.