1. Testosterone is known as the “hormone of desire,” as it is essential for a healthy libido.
The ovaries produce half of the testosterone in women, but with chemotherapy that is frequently used in the treatment of breast cancer, there is a reduction in ovarian function, reducing estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels often resulting in a significant reduction in libido.
2. While testosterone is considered the hormone of desire, estrogen is also an important component of sexual arousal and libido.
The treatments for breast cancer includes tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex to reduce tissue estrogen levels. This low estrogen is commonly associated with hot flashes, depression, joint pain, vaginal dryness and a reduction in libido.
3. Studies show that low thyroid levels can also cause a significant reduction in libido in women.
Chemotherapy is shown to reduce pituitary function, which reduces the secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone, and the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active T3 and promotes the conversion of T4 to the thyroid blocking hormone reverse T3. Studies show that even slightly reduced thyroid levels that are still in the “normal” range that often occurs with chemotherapy treatment of breast cancer can dramatically decrease libido in women, causing fatigue, weight gain and depression. The problem is that this almost always goes undetected by standard blood tests based on the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which is used as a simple method by most physicians to test thyroid levels. People need to find a doctor that uses the more sophisticated method of testing that includes the freeT3/reverse T3 ratio.
4. There are a number of therapies that can be beneficial for low libido with treatment of breast cancer.
A. Pitocin, a hormone that peaks at orgasm and can stimulate libido, climax sense of closeness and bonding. It is active in both sexes and helps stimulate pleasurable sexual interactions between males and females and is also involved in and social interactions between family and friends. It can be prescribed by a physician and can be made into a nasal spray to be used before intercourse. It can also be effectively used on a daily basis for anxiety and depression and to counteract the loss of libido associated with antidepressant use.
B. Aminoacids such as L-arginine can boost nitric oxide, a compound that works to relax blood vessels and allow more blood to flow through arteries and this of course includes to the sexual organs. Supplementation can improve sexual satisfaction in women and erectile function in men. Ginko may also be of some, although mild, benefit, as well.
C. Viagra/Cialis/Lavitra, we have all been inundated with the commercials for these products to treat male erectile dysfunction. They typically do not increase libido in men, but desire and orgasm is more complicated in women than in men. These medications can effectively improve the cascade of arousal in women and can increase libido and sexual satisfaction for about 30% of women and also can help women suffering from sexual dysfunction due to use of antidepressants.
D. Testosterone replacement can be considered with women with a history of breast cancer, especially non- aromatizable testosterones, as testosterone opposes estradiol induced proliferation of human breast cell lines. Cases where endogenous testosterone levels are elevated, such as with polycystic ovary syndrome, are associated with breast tissue atrophy and a decreased risk of breast cancer. There are, however, conflicting data on the potential role of supplemental testosterone in the development of breast cancer and under no circumstances should testosterone be given without regular follow-ups.
E. Medications that stimulate the dopamine receptor can be effective at increasing libido in post breast cancer patients. This includes medications that are typically used for restless leg syndrome such as Mirapex.
Have questions about your libido or hormonal health? Call us today at: (844) 844-2981