By Lead writer: Louise Sloan
February 29, 2016

man-hormone-replacementMen whose sex drive drops with age may want to have their hormone levels checked.(ANDERSEN ROSS/BLEND/GETTY IMAGES)If you're older and find your sex drive is not what it used to be, you may consider replenishing hormones naturally depleted with age—estrogen for women past menopause and testosterone for men.

Some women need a postmenopausal boost
The use of hormones to treat sex drive problems in women is highly controversial. Some sexual medicine specialists still swear by estrogen as a good fit for postmenopausal women who feel their drive needs a boost. But a major study conducted in 2002 linked oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with increased rates of breast cancer, stroke, and other dangerous disorders. Doctors are much more cautious about prescribing HRT for any use and some advise strongly against it.

Locally applied estrogen may be a viable alternative for women with low libidos, some experts say. Some women also report improvements after using the estrogen ring, which is inserted vaginally and left in place for three months. Both help to alleviate vaginal dryness and restore elasticity to the vagina—common complaints that can sometimes be linked to sex drive problems in postmenopausal women.

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In some cases, doctors may prescribe women testosterone in conjunction with estrogen, but the long-term effects of testosterone therapy are unknown and that strategy is not approved by the FDA.

Men often see a change too
Men with libido problems can ask their doctors about testosterone replacement therapy if their hormone levels turn out to be lower than the norm for their age.

Though men's hormone levels don't drop with age as predictably as women's do with menopause, most men do experience a change, and low testosterone can affect mood, sex drive, and sexual function.

Men who have had breast cancer or who are at risk for prostate cancer should not take testosterone, but they may want to consult with a sexual medicine specialist for other options.