One of the most common problems women (or their husbands!) tell me about is decreased libido. Most of the time, doctors view this as a hormonal problem. And often it is. In those cases, you can easily remedy it with hormonal replacement, particularly DHEA. But there's a problem. A lot of the time that doesn't work.
Now a new study shows why there may be a physical rationale to the phrase "I can't now, I have a headache." It shows that pain can be a real libido killer for women. And it also shows why you'll rarely hear that excuse from a man.
Researchers took a group of both female and male mice. They put them as couples into separate cages. But the cages were special. They each had an adjacent room with a door that was large enough for the female to go through, but too small for the male to negotiate. Then they produced pain in them by injecting two substances that produce inflammation and pain.
In some of the couples they injected only the male. In the others, the female was the recipient. They produced the pain in different areas of their bodies, including the hind paw, tail, cheek, or genital area. Then they gave all of the females a chemical that made them sexually appealing to the males. And, finally, they sat around and watched the mating behavior. Presumably they had research students doing that interesting part of the experiment. Here's what they found.
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The female mice with pain quickly withdrew into the room to avoid sexual contact. Whereas the ones without pain did what was natural. But when they gave a pain relieving drug to the female mice that had pain, their sexual appetites became normal.
And what about the boys? You could almost predict it. The males were just as happy to have sexual congress whether or not they had pain. Even when the pain was in the genital area. Way to go, guys!
So ladies, if you are in pain from any cause, maybe the best Viagra you can take is a pain pill. What to take? I recommend ibuprofen, 200-400 mg. Ibuprofen can be toxic to the stomach and the kidney when you take it on a regular basis. But unless you have a medical contraindication, intermittent use of it one to two times a week is not usually a problem.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Farmer MA, Leja A, Foxen-Craft E, et al. Pain reduces sexual motivation in female but not male mice. J Neurosci. 2014 Apr 23;34(17):5747-53.