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Sexual Health


Men's Sexual Health

Definition

Sexual health refers to sexual function, reproduction, desire, ability and enjoyment. It involves relevance to and effect on your overall life and health status.

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Description

“Experts in the field of sexual medicine agree that sexual function can be related to overall health, especially heart health.”

Your sexual health is an integral part of your life. Feelings and experiences of a healthy sexual relationship are important to develop and maintain social and interactive skills, as well as contributing toward a healthy heart and circulation. You can learn how to improve your sexual health for increased libido and better sex.

Factors affecting men's sexual health may include one or many physical, psychological and emotional issues. Health conditions that affect these areas can impact your sexual health as well as your relationships and self-image. If you are not feeling happy with your life, are constantly ill, tired, or suffer from chronic illness or disease you may suffer from decreased libido and it is unlikely that you will be able to fulfil a satisfying and stimulating sexual relationship.

Hormones

Estrogens and testosterone are the major sex hormones essential in sexual functioning.
Both classes of hormones are present in males and females alike, but in different amounts.

Men generally produce around 6-8 mg of testosterone per day, compared to most women who generally produce around 0.5mg.

Estrogens are also present in both sexes, but of course in larger amounts for women.

Premature aging, illness, certain medications and chronic illness all affect your body's hormonal balance, sometimes causing drastic changes in sexual interest and ability.

More awareness has been gained regarding the importance of sexual health since the World Health Organization (WHO) stated over 25 years ago that "There exist fundamental rights for the individual, including…freedom from organic disorders, diseases and deficiencies that interfere with sexual and reproductive function."

However, even today there are still many obstacles that prevent this from becoming a reality. This is a general lack of understanding of the relationship between your general health and your sexual function and abilities.

Various factors limit your sexual interest and capacity as you age. Heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity, and digestive, hormonal and nervous system disorders can all seriously lower your abilities and confidence in the sexual arena.

The American Association of Retired Persons has done numerous studies and surveys to find out how non-prevention of such problems in early years has effected lives latterly (in both general health and sexual function and enjoyment).

As well as producing many individual facts and figures, their overall findings can be summarised in one sentence…

"Sexual health is not only an important part, but an essential element of the quality of life of adults over the age of 45."

Revelations regarding the effects of prescriptive treatments are also continuously brought to our attention. Preventative measures, general nutritional health, lifestyle and exercise continually prove to be the way ahead to maintain your level of sexual health throughout life.

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Statistics

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • More people seek help for sexual health matters than any other condition (37% up from 26% in 1999).
  • More people agree sexual activity is a critical part of their relationship (60% up from 55% in 1999).
  • Almost 40% of men and 15% of women rate their sex lives as currently being at the bottom of the satisfaction scale.
  • Healthy and physically active people have an increased libido, better sex and are generally more satisfied with their sex lives than those with a medical condition. (AARP)
  • 31% of men believe that better preventative and curative measures for their overall health would increase their satisfaction with their sex life. (AARP)
  • The majority of middle aged and senior people don't receive adequate information on prevention and cure for the growing variety of both acute and chronic conditions. This affects their sexual health as part of their overall health and well-being. (AARP).

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Conditions

"There's an incredibly important link between a man's health and sexual performance," (Professor Lamm, New York University)

Male sexual function changes constantly through adulthood. At the age of 18 puberty reaches its peak and allows for maximum sexual ability. This continues through your 20s and 30s.

Anywhere from age 40–50+, without adequate nutritional and hormonal maintenance to optimize health, you may experience a reduction in erection times, less forceful ejaculation and longer refractory times. This can worsen from around 60+ where hormones may reduce and physiological responsiveness, arousal and function may lower.

However, although by your 60s the changes noted above may be quite noticeable to you physically, your psychological desire may still be strong. This is because these problems lay more in your overall health status as opposed to any kind of age-related lack of interest.

Impotence (ED)
The prostate
Prostate cancer
Testicular cancer
Premature ejaculation
Male infertility
Loss of libido

Impotence (erectile dysfunction) or EDimp

Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual health complaint in men.

Impotence is when you are unable to maintain an erection.

To remain erect your penis must become engorged with blood. Some conditions make this difficult however. Vascular (blood vessel) disease, e.g. Atherosclerosis (where fatty deposits narrow the arteries) may restrict blood flow to the penis, high fat/sugar diets, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking are all common causes.

This condition affects approximately 30 million men in the United States alone.

As well as Atherosclerosis, other major causative groups include:

  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Medications — such as for high blood pressure, depression and heart disease
  • Hormonal problems

Regardless of the medical causes of erectile difficulty, there is also always a psychological effect potentially resulting in anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, depression and lowered self-esteem. All these themselves contribute to male impotence, beginning a vicious circle of problematic function.

In the 1970s researchers for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology surveyed 1,810 men about their risks of heart disease. In 1998 researchers contacted 844 of them who were still alive and asked them about their erectile function. The men who had risk factors for heart disease in the '70s were found much more likely to have erectile dysfunction 25 years later.

The prostate

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder in men that produces fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. There are a number of disorders that are increasingly common to the prostate:

Chronic prostatitis

Prostatitis is an inflammation or swelling of the prostate gland. It usually begins gradually and lingers for more than a couple of weeks. It can be caused by several different conditions and infections and can affect adult men of all ages.

Types:

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is where a bacterial infection causes swelling and inflammation.
Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis is where no bacteria are found.
Prostadynia is where symptoms of prostatitis are present, but there is no evidence of prostate infection or inflammation.

Acute prostatitis

This is shown by a sudden infection of the prostate gland, generally by bacteria that get into the prostate by traveling up into the body through the urethra.

5 – 10% of men experience symptoms of chronic prostatitis at some point in their lives.

Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)

At birth the prostate gland is tiny. When testosterone levels rise during puberty, the prostate grows rapidly, doubling in size by age 20.

When a man reaches his 40s the prostate goes through a second growth spurt.

Statistically, prior to their 59th birthday 1 in 2 men will suffer BPH. This escalates to 9 out of 10 men by age 85.
You can easily avoid becoming one of these statistics if you take simple preventative steps to increase prostate health and strength before symptoms occur.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is a group of cancerous cells that mostly begins in the outer part of the prostate. Of all men diagnosed with cancer each year more than ¼ have prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is one of the deadliest diseases amongst men, now being the most common non-skin cancer in America. In 2005 alone over 232,000 men have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 30,000 deaths are estimated as a result of that figure.

The success rate of conventional medicine cures is estimated at only 20 – 30%, with many negative drug side effects (figures from Glaxo SmithKline).

Surgical and procedural failure rates give no more confidence, with damage to the urethral wall in conventional stricture treatments and thermal tissue damage from laser or electrocautery treatments.

Natural prevention on the other hand has shown high results in the avoidance of initial cancer development.

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in one or both testicles, also called testes.
The testicles produce testosterone and other male hormones and produce and store sperm.

Once testicular cancer develops it can remain within the testicle, or it can spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen. If undetected testicular cancer eventually can spread to the lungs, brain, liver and elsewhere throughout the body.

Testicular cancer can affect men of any age, but it is most common in men between the ages of 20 and 40.

Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation occurs when a man reaches orgasm and ejaculates too quickly and without control. It may occur before or after beginning foreplay or intercourse. Some men experience a lot of personal distress because of this condition.

At some point in life as many as 1 in 5 men experience difficulty with uncontrolled or early ejaculation.

Several factors may contribute to premature ejaculation. Psychological problems, such as stress or depression, and biological factors make men more prone to the problem.

Male infertility

Infertility is the inability to achieve a normal conception. Couples that cannot conceive after three years are very unlikely to ever succeed unless they seek medical assistance. Male infertility is statistically responsible for around 50% of all couples that have difficulty with conception.

Male infertility has a wide variety of causes:

  • Hormonal problems
  • Problems with the testicles
  • Problems with the flow of sperm
  • Abnormal sperm function
  • Inherited or chromosomal disorders
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Medications and drugs
  • General illnesses, including kidney disease, cirrhosis and malnutrition

Most infertile men will not have any symptoms.

Loss of sexual desire / libido

Lack of sex drive is more and more common in men. Causes can be either physical or psychological.

Physical causes can include alcohol or drug abuse, anaemia, hyperprolactinaemia (where too much prolactin hormone is produced by the pituitary gland), obesity, some prescription drugs, low testosterone levels or any general systemic disease.

Psychological causes can include depression, stress, overwork or relationship problems.

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Causes

Causes of sexual problems in men are dependent on the individual problem. Continually growing proof supports the expert evidence that our sexual health is dependent on our overall health and wellness (see above). This starts by having a healthy digestive system upon which to build your immunity, strength, energy, and adequate nutrient intake, upon which all other systems rely.

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Diagnosis

Your healthcare practitioner will ask you about your medical history and about your sex life. He / she will examine you to look for evidence of underlying medical problems or causes of your condition. He / she will also examine any particular organ or area of the body that may need further investigation.

Blood may be tested along with cholesterol and levels of sexual and other hormones.

You will be asked questions about your symptoms and to thoroughly describe them. Information about medications, your alcohol and caffeine intake and any sexual contacts will likely be taken.

A urine specimen may be requested to check for evidence of infection, along with semen specimens for sperm counts where applicable.

For more serious sexual health conditions the employment of ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans and x-rays may be requested.

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Signs and Symptoms

Impotence

Problem producing an erection or difficulty maintaining one.

Note: The following symptoms for prostatitis, enlarged prostate and prostate cancer are very similar. Please do not therefore assume that you have prostate cancer simply because you suffer these symptoms.

Prostatitis

  • Burning during or after urination
  • Difficulty starting the urine stream
  • Dribbling after urination has been completed
  • A need to urinate frequently or urgently
  • A sensation that the bladder cannot be emptied completely
  • Pain felt above the penis, in or below the scrotum, or in the back or rectum
  • Pain experienced during or after orgasm.
  • Enlarged prostate

A weak urine stream

  • Difficulty or intermittent urination
  • Dribbling at the end of urination
  • A frequent and urgent need to urinate (especially at night)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Urinary tract infections

Prostate cancer

  • A weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Frequent urination, often at night
  • Difficulty or inability to urinate
  • Pain or burning upon urinating
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • A nagging pain in the back, hips, or pelvis.

Testicular cancer

  • A painless lump in the testicle that can be small or large, hard or soft
  • Discomfort or swelling in the testicle
  • Breast swelling or tenderness.
  • If the cancer has spread beyond the testicle there can also be other symptoms like back or abdominal pain and shortness of breath.

Premature ejaculation

  • Ejaculation with little sexual stimulation and with little control
  • Decreased sexual pleasure
  • Feelings of guilt, embarrassment or frustration

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Treatment

The only sure way to optimum sexual fitness and longevity is through taking the responsibility to care for the overall health of your body. This means providing it with the nutrients, elements and trace minerals it needs to fight against potential diseases and infections, proper nutrient intake, and to maintain your strength and energy.

Treatments such as prescription medications, may help in the short term, but only suppress the real underlying causes.

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Conventional treatments

Impotence (erectile dysfunction) or ED

  • Phosphodiesterase Type 5 (PDE5) Inhibitors: Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra)
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)

These are taken in pill form up to an hour before sexual activity takes place. They work by inhibiting an enzyme that degrades nitric oxide, thereby increasing the amount of nitric oxide produced in the penis. Nitric oxide stimulates enzymes to produce a chemical that increases blood flow.

The side effects of these drugs include flushing and headache, dyspepsia, nasal congestion, urinary tract infection, abnormal vision, diarrhea, dizziness and possible rash.

These drugs can also interact negatively with other medications, resulting in dangerously low blood pressure.

Alprostadil:

A drug that causes your blood vessels to widen. This can allow blood to flow more freely in the penis and lead to an erection.
Side effects of this drug can include mild to moderate pain in the penis, blood-filled swelling at the site of injection, discoloration of the penis, tearing of the skin, prolonged erection, upper respiratory infection, low blood pressure, flu symptoms, headache, burning or testicular pain.

NB: None of these drugs stimulate actual desire or libido, which is now considerably low in many older men. Indeed no prescription drugs currently help this growing problem.

Premature ejaculation

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline

These prescription medications help to delay ejaculation.

Side effects of these drugs can include constipation, decreased sexual ability, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, sweating, nausea, trembling or shaking, insomnia, unusual tiredness or weakness and vomiting.

Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)

  • Alpha-blocker medications: Tamsulosin
  • Terazosin

Used to relax the muscles that control the bladder.

Side effects include abnormal ejaculation, back pain, diarrhea, dizziness; headache, stuffy or runny nose, unusual weakness, chest pain, decreased sexual drive, insomnia, fainting, drowsiness and nausea.

  • Testosterone blockers: Finasteride (Proscar)
  • Dutasteride (Avodart)

Also known as 5 Alpha Reductase Inhibitors.

Side effects include decreased libido, decreased ejaculation, impotence, breast tenderness and enlargement.

Testicular cancer

Dactinomycin: An antineoplastic drug used to treat cancer of the testicles, amongst others. It inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
Side effects can include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, thinning or brittle hair, skin infections and irritations.

Prostate cancer

Bicalutamide: Bicalutamide is a hormone that works by blocking the effects of certain chemicals necessary for cancer cells to survive.
Side effects include constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, decrease in sexual desire, nausea, trouble in sleeping, bloatedness, indigestion, drowsiness, dryness of mouth and flu-like symptoms.

Nonsteroidal antiandrogens:
These work by blocking the effect of testosterone in the body.

Common side effects include coughing, fever, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, tight chest and wheezing, chills, lower back pain, mental depression, tingling or painful muscles, rash and unusual tiredness.

NB: There is actually no successful drug for this condition. Cases generally result in surgery to remove the diseased prostate. It is for this reason that natural preventative measures are really the only reliable answer.

Male infertility

Menotropins: A mixture of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In males they are used to stimulate the production of sperm.Side effects include dizziness, fainting, headache, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, nosebleeds and shortness of breath.

A mixture of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In males they are used to stimulate the production of sperm.Side effects include dizziness, fainting, headache, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, nosebleeds and shortness of breath.

Antibiotics are also sometimes used as an aid to fertility treatment:

  • Trimethoprim-sulfa, a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Side effects can include joint inflammation, skin rashes, inability to produce adequate tears, hepatitis and bladder stones.

and Fluoroquinolones ("floxacins")
Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach or abdominal pain, dizziness, drowsiness, light-headedness, nervousness, sleep problems and headache. More serious side effects, although rare, can include skin problems, fever, agitation, shakiness, tingling and seizures.

Other common prescriptions include pain relievers, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants.

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Natural treatments

Many ingredients are well recognised for their sexual health benefits. However, it is important to understand that your body needs more than just the individual ingredient.

To reach optimum performance your body requires a wide synergistic range of nutrients that must target the health of all your main organs, including the sexual organs and body systems.

If you are a man you need ALL the following nutrients if you wish to uphold lifelong sexual health. This is in addition to maintaining a reasonable exercise and diet lifestyle:

Tribulus
Damania
Epilobium parviflorum extracts
L-Arginine
Grape seed extract
Quertecin
Bromelain
Gingko Biloba extract
Tocotrienols
Green Tea Extract
Corn Silk extract
Chrysin
Lycopene
Phytosterols (Beta Sitosterol)
Saw Palmetto
Selenium
Zinc Aspartate
Omega 3 DHA fish oil
PLUS… A wide range of co-factors, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements plus other specialty substances such as RNA (Ribonucleis Acid) and various herbal extracts.

What will these specific nutrients do for you?

Many of the nutrients referred to serve multiple purposes, but for simplicity they are only listed in the sections in which they serve the prime purpose.

To naturally increase testosterone levels:

Chrysin A naturally occurring isoflavone chemically extracted from the plant Passiflora coerulea, will prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. Although testosterone is still produced many men over 50 find they have a serious problem in that much of their testosterone converts to estrogen. In fact many men over 50 have higher levels of estrogen than women! Studies with Chrysin have shown a testosterone increase of up to 30% after supplementation.
Tribulus
Tribulus terrestris extract will also naturally increase the production of testosterone by increasing the body's production of luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. (LH is produced by the pituitary gland and plays an important role in triggering natural testosterone production.)

To help relieve / avoid an enlarged prostate:

Beta Sitosterol Proven effective in reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is used to enhance sexual activity and boost the immune system. Research indicates phytosterols lessen inflammation and help to block the build up of cholesterol in the prostate gland.
Saw Palmetto Successful in treating chronic nonbacterial prostatitis. Studies indicate that certain active fatty acids in Saw Palmetto inhibit the production of prostate cells and help to fight inflammation, decreasing prostate size.
NB: Studies prove that phytosterols and Saw Palmetto have actually outperformed Proscar with none of the negative side effects, such as impotency, is well documented through Proscar use.
Zinc More abundant in the prostate gland than any other organ. Deficiency has been shown to contribute to prostate enlargement. Its antibacterial activity is considered a key factor in natural resistance to infection of the male urinary and reproductive systems.
NB: In order to achieve sufficient efficacy and effectiveness both Zinc citrate and Zinc aspartate need to be present. This is because different forms of Zinc follow different metabolic pathways. E.g. Zinc citrate does not go directly to the prostate whereas Zinc aspartate does.
Corn Silk Containing saponins, allantoin, sterols, tannins, an alkaloid called hordenine and vitamin C and vitamin K. It is a valuable diuretic and demulcent (having a soothing effect) to the urinary tract.

To help prevent prostate cancer:  

Grape seed and Quercetin Helping to protect you against prostate cancer. By containing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects they help to block male hormones that encourage the growth of cancer cells.

To help increase libido and desire:  

Epimedium A flavonoid that encourages erection in the same way as Viagra. Like Viagra it inhibits an enzyme called PDE5, but with more natural intense results and fewer side effects.
Damania Helping to increase sperm and balances hormones to increase sexual virility. It reinvigorates the vital energy of the system. A safe restorative of natural sexual capacities and functions.

To help increase sexual satisfaction: The key to improving sexual satisfaction/intensity is the judicial use of all the above nutrients plus a number of other supporting co-factors.

L-Arginine A nutrient important in achieving the above objective by dilating blood vessels and improving the release of nitric oxide, ensuring that nitric oxide secretion is sufficient to keep blood flowing to the penis.
NB: Although L-Arginine helps with sexual intensity it would have to be ingested in very high doses if taken alone. However, such high doses are not desirable for many reasons, not least of which is that the benefits will gradually dissipate. When combined with other nutrients in much lower doses, the results are much greater however.

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Women's Sexual Health

Definition

Sexual health refers to sexual function, reproduction, desire, ability and enjoyment. It involves relevance to and effect on your overall life and health status.

Back To Top

Description

“Experts in the field of sexual medicine agree that sexual function can be related to overall health, especially heart health.”

Your sexual health is an integral part of your life. Feelings and experiences of a healthy sexual relationship are important factors to develop and maintain social and interactive skills, as well as contributing toward a healthy heart and circulation. You can learn how to improve your sexual health for increased libido and better sex.

Factors affecting sexual health may include one or many physical, psychological and emotional issues. Health conditions that affect these areas can impact your sexual health as well as your relationships and self-image. If you are not feeling happy with your life, are constantly ill, tired, or suffer from chronic illness or disease, you may suffer from decreased libido and it is unlikely that you will be able to fulfil a satisfying and stimulating sexual relationship.

Hormones
Estrogens and testosterone are the major sex hormones essential in sexual functioning.
Both classes of hormones are present in males and females alike, but in different amounts.

Men generally produce around 6-8 mg of testosterone per day, compared to most women who generally produce around 0.5mg.

Estrogens are also present in both sexes, but of course in larger amounts for women.

Premature aging, illness, certain medications and chronic illness all affect your body's hormonal balance, sometimes causing drastic changes in sexual interest and ability.

More awareness has been gained regarding the importance of sexual health since the World Health Organization (WHO) stated over 25 years ago that "There exist fundamental rights for the individual, including…freedom from organic disorders, diseases and deficiencies that interfere with sexual and reproductive function."

However, even today there are still many obstacles that prevent this from becoming a reality. This is a general lack of understanding of the relationship between your general health and your sexual function and abilities.

Various factors limit your sexual interest and capacity as you age. Heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity, and digestive, hormonal and nervous system disorders can all seriously lower your abilities and confidence in the sexual arena.

The American Association of Retired Persons has done numerous studies and surveys to find out how non-prevention of such problems in early years has effected lives latterly (in both general health and sexual function and enjoyment).

As well as producing many individual facts and figures, their overall findings can be summarised in one sentence…

“Sexual health is not only an important part, but an essential element of the quality of life of adults over the age of 45.”

Revelations regarding the effects of prescriptive treatments are also continuously brought to our attention. Preventative measures, general nutritional health, lifestyle and exercise continually prove to be the way ahead to maintain your level of sexual health throughout life.

Back To Top

Statistics

  • More people seek help for sexual health matters than any other condition (37% up from 26% in 1999).
  • More people agree sexual activity is a critical part of their relationship (60% up from 55% in 1999).
  • Almost 40% of men and 15% of women rate their sex lives as currently being at the bottom of the satisfaction scale.
  • Healthy and physically active people are generally more satisfied with their sex lives than those with a medical condition. (AARP)
  • 31% of men believe that better preventative and curative measures for their overall health would increase their satisfaction with their sex life. (AARP)
  • The majority of middle aged and senior people don't receive adequate information on prevention and cure for the growing variety of both acute and chronic conditions. This affects their sexual health as part of their overall health and well-being. (AARP).

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Conditions

As a woman, with age your hormonal production diminishes. Your care the lining of your vaginal wall thins and may become more rigid, and the production of vaginal lubrication drops significantly. This latter change can contribute to pain during and after intercourse in many senior women.

Despite these occurances surveys show that a woman's capacity to achieve orgasm can remain at near peak levels well into her senior years, even though the length of time needed to achieve orgasm may increase. Studies also confirm that women who remain sexually active may actually be less likely to experience some or all of the folowing:

Menopausal problems
PMS
Painful intercourse
Cervical cancer
Breast cancer
Female infertility

Menopause
This is the most dramatic organic change that you will undergo as you age.
Menopause occurs between the ages of 45 - 55, although it is possible to begin earlier. A significant reduction in the production of estrogen brings about this change to signify the end of ovulation, menstruation and fertility.

This does not mean that your sexual desire, energy and enjoyment has to end also. On the contrary, it has become clear that not only does interest and capacity for sex continue well beyond menopause, but that many women report an increased enjoyment of sex at this time, due to the absence of concerns regarding unwanted pregnancies and menstruation problems.

The major sexual impact of the menopause can include vaginal shrinkage and thinning of the vaginal walls, along with a loss of elasticity and decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual arousal.

Some women experience only slight changes in sexual function, while others have severe symptoms and discomfort from dryness and pain with intercourse, or genital soreness for a few days after sexual activity.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a collection of physical, psychological and emotional symptoms that many women experience during the one or two weeks before a menstrual period.

Symptoms may be related to cyclic changes in female sex hormones, pituitary hormones, prostaglandins and certain brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Magnesium deficiency could play a role.

Lifestyle is also thought to play a significant role in PMS, especially if you smoke, lead a stressful life, rarely exercise, sleep too little or have a diet high in caffeine, alcohol, salt, red meat or sugary foods.

Increasing the general health of your diet and lifestyle will prove significant as part of any type of treatment regime.

Painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
Dyspareunia is the experience of pain during or after sexual intercourse. It can involve the vagina, clitoris or labia. You may experience pain at the entrance of the vagina, deeper pain during penetration, or tightening of the vaginal muscles.

Common causes of such pain include:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Side effects of drugs such as antihistamines
  • Endometriosis
  • Inflammation of the area surrounding the vaginal opening
  • Skin diseases
  • Urinary tract infections.

Cervical cancer
The cervix is located at the top of the vagina. It is the entrance to the uterus.
Cervical cancer begins with abnormal changes in cells in the outer layer of the cervix that continue to multiply.
Virtually all cervical cancer is caused by infection with HPV human papilloma virus.

Cervical cancer does not display any symptoms in its early stages, which is why it is recommended to have regular smear / pap tests every few years.

Treatment for cervical cancer will depend on how far the cancer has spread through any part of medical stages 0 to 4.

At stage 0 the following options may be considered:

  • Laser surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Conization
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)

Through stages III IV radiation and chemotherapy are the usual routes of conventional treatment.

Breast cancer
Breast cancer manifests as a growth of abnormal cells that can develop in one of several different areas of the breast.

Types of Breast Cancer:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma — develops in the milk ducts.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma — originates in the milk-producing lobules.
  • Medullary, mucinous and tubular carcinomas — slow-growing types of breast cancer.
  • Paget's disease — starts in the milk ducts of the nipple and can spread to the areola (dark circle around the nipple).
  • Inflammatory carcinoma — the most aggressive and difficult to treat, because it spreads so quickly.

Treatment will depend on the stage of the disease.

Female infertility
Most couples are able to achieve a pregnancy within one year if they have intercourse frequently, but between 10% and 15% of couples will continue to have difficulty conceiving after one year of trying. Infertility is when pregnancy is slow or unable to occur.

Infertility can be caused by health problems. In approximately 20% of couples more than one cause of infertility is found.

Normal aging reduces a woman's ability to become pregnant. Aging begins to reduce fertility as early as age 30, and pregnancy rates are very low after age 44.

You can help to diagnose your own potential problem by taking your body's early-morning core temperature and/or using an ovulation predictor test.

Your healthcare practitioner can also take blood tests to confirm normal ovulation by measuring a high progesterone level in the later part of your menstrual cycle. Blood levels of two additional sex hormones, follicle stimulating hormone and estradiol can also help to show whether your ovaries are functioning well.

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Causes

Causes of sexual problems in females are dependent on the individual problem. Continually growing proof supports the expert evidence that our sexual health is dependent on our overall health and wellness (see above). This starts by having a healthy digestive system upon which to build your immunity, strength, energy, and adequate nutrient intake, upon which all other systems rely.

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Diagnosis

When referring to the menopause you must be aware that there comes an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so blood pressure and heart function should be regularly checked.

Blood tests are often employed in female sexual health conditions to check various hormone levels.

Screening tests such as for blood pressure, cholesterol level and thyroid function is often recommended, along with regular pap tests.

Testing bone density for osteoporosis is recommended if you are in a risk category or approaching/experiencing menopause.

Your healthcare practitioner will ask you about your symptoms, your family history, the general quality of your life, review your medical history and possibly ask about any medications that you are taking.

He / she will likely wish to examine you to check for other medical or hormonal problems, also examining any discharges and particular organs of concern.

For more potentially serous problems he / she may wish to do a pelvic exam, a full gynecology examination, or even a biopsy to investigate and rule out potential causes. An ultrasound and/or biopsy may also be recommended for conclusive results.

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Signs and Symptoms

Menopause

The levels of both female hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to fall and the symptoms of menopause are mainly the result of these falling levels.

Lifestyle, diet and activity all seem to play a role in the severity and type of symptoms experienced.

Other symptoms include:

  • Menstrual bleeding becomes irregular
  • Skipped, late or scanty periods
  • Heavier-than-normal bleeding
  • Common symptoms
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal drying
  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones that increases the risk of fracture)

PMS

Physical symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Fluid retention and weight gain
  • Painful cramps
  • Headaches
  • Food cravings
  • Acne
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Backaches or muscle pain

Psychological and emotional symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Aggressiveness or hostility
  • Crying spells
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased appetite
  • Forgetfulness
  • Changes in libido (sexual desire)

The common complaints most difficult to bear when suffering PMS seem to be irritability, fatigue and bloating.

Cervical cancer

  • A blood-tinged or discolored vaginal discharge
  • Spotting after intercourse, or abnormal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

Breast cancer

  • A lump or thickening in the breast or under the arm
  • A clear or bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Persistent crusting or scaling of the nipple
  • Inverted nipples
  • Redness or swelling of the breast
  • Dimpling on the breast skin resembling the texture of an orange
  • A change in the contours of the breast
  • A sore or ulcer on the skin of the breast

Female infertility

  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Infrequent ovulation
  • Body stresses
  • Eating disorders
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Obesity
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Scarring in the fallopian tubes
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Abnormalities in the shape or lining of the uterus

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Treatment

The only sure way to optimum sexual fitness and longevity is through taking the responsibility to care for the overall health of your body. This means providing it with the nutrients, elements and trace minerals it needs to fight against potential diseases and infections, proper nutrient intake, and to maintain your strength and energy.

Treatments such as prescription medications do work in the short term, but only suppress the real underlying causes.

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Conventional treatments

Menopause

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) / Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT):
This involves taking estrogen, with or without progesterone hormones, to replace the loss of natural hormones.

Side effects include being potentially more at risk of heart attack and stroke, chronic or active liver disease, blood clots and DVT, migraine headaches, gallbladder problems, high blood pressure and endometriosis.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

  • Antidepressants, Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Fluoxetine
  • Sertraline hydrochloride
  • Clomipramine
  • Nefazodone
  • Venlafaxine

Side effects include diarrhoea, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, insomnia, dry mouth, muscle weakness or tremor, anxiety or nervousness and reduced appetite.

Vaginal dryness and dyspareunia

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):

The side effects of HRT are as for menopause above.

Alprostadil; Phentolamine:

Side effects of Alprostadil and Phentolamine, commonly used to increase lubrication and more specifically to relax the vaginal muscles, include diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, weakness and bruising. In more severe cases arrhythmias have been reported.

Cervical cancer / Breast cancer

  • Cisplatin (Platinol)
  • Ifasfamide (Ifex)
  • Fluirouracil (5-Fu, Adrucil)

Chemotherapy drugs such as these are commonly used to kill the cancer cells. Unfortunately these drugs kill healthy cells too and can result in severe side effects such as vomiting, nausea, hair loss, weakness and fatigue.

Breast cancer

  • Selective Esterogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs): Raloxifene
  • Tamoxifen

SERMs can stimulate some but not all the estrogen receptors located throughout a woman's body. Tamoxifen in particular, as well as chemotherapy above, is sometimes used in the treatment of breast cancer.

Side effects include hot flashes and an increased risk of blood clots.

Female infertility

Infertility hormone medications:

Clomiphene citrate, which stimulates FSH (the pituitary hormone stimulating cells in the ovary and triggering the production of estrogen).

This drug has many side effects, such as hot flashes, blurred vision, nausea, bloating and headache. More serious side effects are potential and include multiple pregnancy and possible ovarian cancer.

GnRH analogue is also used to quiet down natural hormone stimulation to the ovary in preparation for a precisely timed cycle of ovulation, but this also has side effects. These include hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual interest, increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, insomnia and headaches.

Other medications commonly prescribed include:

  • Oral contraceptives, containing both estrogen and progestin
  • Diuretics
  • Lubricants, e.g. K-Y Jelly, Replens, or Astroglide
  • Antifungal medications
  • Antibiotics

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Natural Treatments

Many ingredients are well recognised for their sexual health benefits. It is important to understand that your body needs more than just a few individual ingredients however. To reach optimum performance your body requires a wide synergistic range of nutrients that must target the health of all your main organs, including your sexual organs and body systems.

Your body requires a specific combination of herbal extracts, essential minerals, active enzymes, vitamins and co-factors to produce the best results:

Tribulus
Damania
Sarsaparilla extract
Chaste tree berry extract
Wild Yam extract
Dong Quai
Red Clover extract
PLUS… ingredients to increase and maintain overall health and longevity:

Omega 3 DHA fish oil
L-Carnosine
L-Glutathione
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)
DAE (Dimethyl Amino Ethanol Bitartrate)
Potassium citrate
RNA (Ribonucleic Acid)
Selenium
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Bilberry extract
Gingko Biloba extract
Gotu Kola extract
Tocotrienols

Recent studies show that 68% of women frequently experience a decrease in libido and a lack of sexual satisfaction.

Tribulus Terrestris and Chaste Tree Berry can help to improve both desire and performance whilst increasing sexual energy.

Tribulus raises progesterone levels, is an excellent circulatory and heart tonic and can help dilate arteries, helping to enhance sexual sensitivity, increase stamina and improve satisfaction…whereas...
Chaste Tree Berry balances estrogen dominance, overcoming symptoms of menopause and PMS such as headaches, breast tenderness, cramps and bloating.
Damiana and Sarsaparilla exceptional supporting energizers for the nervous system and for increasing sexual desire and energy. Sarsaparilla also contains "building block" chemicals to “stimulate the synthesis of sex hormones”.
Dong Quai used to help combat premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, irregularity, retarded flow, weakness during the menstrual period and symptoms of menopause by inhibiting estradiol binding to estrogen receptors. It also acts as a blood purifier, increasing oxygen to the capillaries.
Wild Yam Extract used as a natural alternative for estrogen replacement therapy, postmenopausal vaginal dryness, premenstrual syndrome and osteoporosis, whilst increasing female energy and libido.
Bilberry contains high levels of tannic acid and improves circulation.
Ginkgo Biloba Extract improves vascular function and circulation, vital for normal sexual function and desire.

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