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Natural treatments for low sex drive?

Question: What can you suggest for low sex drive? I had a baby four years ago, but my libido still isn't back to normal.

I had my hormones checked, and the test showed low DHEA and low progesterone. I've started on progesterone cream, but it hasn't made a difference yet. I am nervous about taking DHEA because I've heard it can cause side effects.

Do you have any recommendations? My husband is losing his patience, but I'd like to stick with natural treatments if possible.

Answer: DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a natural hormone and acts as a building block for both estrogen and testosterone. Some data suggest that it can restore libido, but you are right that there might be side effects. In menopausal women, DHEA can produce estrogen levels equivalent to hormone replacement therapy. Perhaps this is why high levels of DHEA have been linked to a risk of breast cancer.

Some women report acne, facial-hair growth or a deeper voice. Taking DHEA can also reduce good HDL cholesterol and increase insulin resistance. That's why we recommend DHEA use only under close medical supervision.

We are sending you our Guide to Female Sexuality, which discusses the use of DHEA, testosterone and other treatments for sexual dysfunction. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. Z-2, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at or via their Web site:

King Features Syndicate