Many women are less than satisfied with their sex lives. But how can they improve the situation?
Research about female sexuality is surprisingly scarce, but both biological and psychological factors can play an important role in women’s sexual satisfaction. Some women may be upset about a lack of libido, while others may be quite disturbed that their partners don’t share their level of desire. Medications, including common ones such as antidepressants or birth control pills, can affect sexual interest and performance.

Guests: Jennifer Berman, MD, is a urologist and co-founder of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her books, co-authored with Laura Berman, PhD, are For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction and Reclaiming Your Sex Life, and Secrets of the Sexually Satisfied Woman: Ten Keys to Unlocking Ultimate Pleasure.

Anita Clayton, MD, is David C. Wilson Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She is consulting editor for the Journal of Sexual Medicine and for the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. Her book is Satisfaction: Women, Sex, and the Quest for Intimacy. Dr. Clayton consults for several pharmaceutical firms and receives grants from BioSante, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Brain Resource Limited, Pfizer, Inc. and Repligen Corporation.

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  1. DMD

    I’m 45 yrs. old had a hysterectomy 3 yrs. ago now going through full menopause. Sex with my spouse is very painful. I fear hormonal treatments that might help for cancer risks, so what can I use naturally?

  2. LLB

    Please, more shows on sex! Sex is so misunderstood and I do believe we need more open, to-the-point, real, gutsy discussion on this. Our outer directed culture makes sex about doing, doing, doing-when the beauty and the true wonder of the human body is what needs to be adored. So much self criticism, oh, so much! This is not a marathon, women, this is a journey…..

  3. VH

    I know exactly how you feel, as I too am the wife of a prostate cancer survivor whose libido and erectile function were severely curtailed as a result of treatments. I was hoping someone would bring this topic up! My husband and I find it’s a constant challenge, redefining intimacy in this context and not letting the message we receive from advertising that “you’re not a man if you can’t perform” get in the way of being intimate. In addition, privately, self-stimulation helps me a lot…
    Good show.

  4. hc

    Desire is not my problem. I am a female, nearing 50, in peri-menopause. My problem is inability to climax any longer.
    My desire is up from what it used to be, but even with self-stimulation, I can no longer climax… This frustrates both my partner and myself… is this something I should talk with my doctor about? Is there something out there that can help remedy this situation?
    As a footnote, I have never reached climax with a partner, only with self-stimulation.

  5. Linda C

    I sent an email during the broadcast Saturday morning, but the topic was never addressed, so I will try again here:
    I am a 65 yr-old retired RN, widowed x 4years. With the onset of menopause, my interest in sex waned and I gradually grew accustomed to diminishing desire. My late husband was 10 years older and we both learned to be content with intimacy sans sex. I am otherwise healthy and fit and take only Synthroid – replacement therapy following a hemithyroidectomy at age twelve. I thought that becoming a dried up “crone” was simply the next step in a woman’s life cycle.
    HOWEVER, a year ago, seeking relief for the pain of an osteoarthritic knee, I began seeing a traditional 5-Element Chinese acupuncturist. Within a couple of months, much to my surprise, not only was my knee much improved but my libido was also resurrected! This systemic unblocking of vital energy affects every system in the body – and it makes perfect sense to me that sexual energy is affected. I continue regular acupuncture “tune ups” and feel like the desireable/desiring woman I was 20 years ago.
    PLEASE BRING UP THIS SUBJECT – ACUPUNCTURE is an uninvasive, drug-free approach to better health and vitality, and it deserves to get more press!

  6. E.F.

    I can say testosterone works like Viagra. I didnt realize a part had “stopped responding” as it did a few yrs ago. Had my testosterone level checked and was low. I inject 1/2 mL/cc every 7-10 days. Works.
    Im a male. Female i believe is about 1/8th the level of male.
    I wouldve liked to hear about each estrogen/hormone (estriol, estradiol, estrone, progesterone, testosterone) regarding menopause sex drive vs say 21 yr old when these levels are higher.
    Awesome radio show. I try to never miss it. Good work!

  7. LCB

    I have always liked your shows in the past but found this one very troubling because of the way the experts handled the questions–particularly the second doctor. Her answers seemed, at best, way too clinical and at worst tone deaf to the need of the person seeking help. It seemed she had a stable of answers to any particular problem and she trotted out the whole lot even when half of them weren’t appropriate to the person calling.
    The woman who called who was on multiple medications for depression, etc., was advised to look at her genitals in a mirror to get familiar with her body parts. Maybe someone else would benefit from that advice, but if I were that woman I’d be a whole lot more depressed after calling in. Someone needed to acknowledge her painful situation and talk to her about her drug cocktail!
    Another woman ended her question by asking, “Is there any hope?” As far as I could tell, the answer wasn’t likely to give her any. I thought that you, the hosts, tried to fill in some of these gaps but it wasn’t possible in the time provided. Would you consider having a follow-up show to further address the same questions that were asked on this program, but with a better “bedside manner”?
    I don’t think the people who called in today were well served, and many of them were suffering.

  8. Abbie

    Hi, what if you don’t care about sex. Why all the hype over sex. I don’t have sex and don’t care.
    I am perfectly fine not having sex and have no desire. So what’s wrong with that? I am an attractive 62 yr old and am approached by younger and older men but I am not interested.
    Yes I find the men attractive but I not interested.
    Thank you

  9. TEE

    what can I do to increase my libido??? I am a 53 year old female on high blood pressure meds.How much testesterone should women take to increase sex drive

  10. GHW

    One of the doctors mentioned a ‘device’ that would help woman achieve sexual satisfaction. What is that device???????
    Dr. Anita Clayton mentioned a device called Eros. Here is a link:

  11. BLT

    My wife and I have been married for 30 yrs. Her libido varies dramatically. She can go 3 months without interest, then she’ll be interested daily for weeks or even as long as a month. Now that she’s gone through her change of life it has generally increased her interest. Having the kids move out made the most difference. Why?

  12. WCM

    Unfortunately, I only caught about 1/2 hour of the program (7:30 til 8:00 AM ET), but I found it to very informative. As the male partner of a lady that has medications for both depression and Bi-polar I understand the implications of RX upon sex life and relationships.
    Fortunately, we have been able to work through most of the issues…though OF COURSE I would be in favor of a fair amount “increased participation”. A question I have is that she claims that she can achieve “satisfaction” through self-manipulation, though very rarely through intercourse. I have asked her to “demonstrate” or involve me in the method; however, she declines to share what she does. Perhaps, this is asking for too much intimacy, BUT I do desire that she achieve some level of advanced satisfaction.
    She does have an intermediate level of desire and arousal and as a male I perceive that she gets some satisfaction from our interaction…BUT is there a medication that would assist in the process OR does the problem have deeper psychological roots ????

  13. Jay H.

    I believe that for a romantic relationship to be complete there needs to be intimacy, not just sex. There doesn’t seem to be a good teacher in our culture for this. The many religions avoid the subject, to outright denouncing our sexuality as a ‘sin’.
    Most certainly the public schools don’t teach it in their so called ‘family life’ classes. And, finally in the avenues of popular culture (magazines, movies, music, etc.) the image depicted, I feel undermines the development of a real spiritual-physical relationship.
    This is where I like the Eastern practices of Karma Sutra and Tantra for they teach a couple to become ‘one’ in the manner the Bible speaks. It is much more than just about ‘technique’, this is a practice that combines things such a breath work, communication, massage, meditation, and yoga to really connect with your partner. For the man this means learning to worship the spirit of god within their mate, which I would say is lacking in most male-female relationships. While for the woman it is about letting go in a place of deep trust and love, not having to feel submissive, and as a result being able to reach a higher level of joy.
    Then too one needs to be good to and at peace with oneself, so diet, exercise, and rest are important as well. For those that follow Tantric principles in their lives, it becomes part of a daily routine. To be clear I am not talking about intercourse every day, but rather casual affection, cuddling, and love expressed every day. I have found that the spiritual-physical connection talked about in books such as The Art of Conscious Loving by Charles and Caroline Muir helpful. In fact several years back I took a class based on this book at a local church.
    Men who are willing to take the time to know and understand their partner, helping them achieve organisms not as much of an issue. It may take time and require using things like a vibrator, but being caring for someone means doing what helps. That said I believe that physical touch is just one element to be balanced with others in a healthy relationship. There should not be one area that over powers the others for in the end that will lead to failure.

  14. emc

    Just want to say, a timely show, I have braced the topic of sex with my spouse, however he gets upset, even a little angry, he says because of prostrate issues he can not perform. what do you think.

  15. RES

    I am an “older woman”, and know a little bit about the “satisfaction” of sexual intimacy.
    So many women still cling to the romantic idea of climax IN THE VAGINA, and that is just not the way it usually happens. I believe there have been studies showing that a very large percentage of women can have an orgasm “outside” the vagina——meaning the clitoris——–and that can be very satisfying to both partners. I think that men need to be educated in this endeavor and it can lead to a very satisfying sexual life.

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