Help for sexless marriages

April 17, 2009 11:12:16 AM PDT
Around 40 million Americans are believed to have a low sex or no sex marriage. Researchers define a sexless marriage as one where a couple has sex 10 times a year or less. For many of these couples one spouse has a true medical problem, but when he or she gets medical help, it can sometimes make the situation worse.

Turn on just about any show in popular media and you will find sex is everywhere. It can make people with a sexual dysfunction think they're alone, but that's not true.

According to Baylor Urolgist Mohit Khera, 52% of men and 43% of women age 40-70 suffer some type of sexual dysfunction. Many never get medical treatment, and those who do, usually men, find it can backfire.

"You can give them all the pills you want [like] Viagra, testosterone replacement, injections, but what's the point in getting them to a great sexual life if they don't have a partner to have sex with," asked Dr. Khera.

A Houston businessman we talked with did not want to be identified. He went for five years without having sex with his wife because of his health problems.

"We didn't realize how deeply it had impacted us, it really had," he admitted.

When he sought medical help, doctors say they noticed a conflict brewing at home.

Baylor researchers found that sexual problems can get even worse when one spouse gets treated and the other doesn't. So they asked his wife to come in too.

"I felt like it wasn't my problem, I wasn't having that problem," she said.

But as she began treatment her attitude changed.

"I think we both realize it was a couple things," she said.

People with a sexual dysfunction often feel very much alone. Women go to their gynecologist, men to their urologist, but Baylor doctors are finding results are better if it's treated as a couple's problem and if both partners are treated at the same time.

Olga and Joe Cardenas both had health problems that caused sexual problems. She went to Dr Khera for bladder surgery while Joe had an enlarged prostate that caused sexual dysfunction. Both began taking medicines, and Olga started taking testosterone.

"Testosterone is responsible for both a man and a woman's sex drive," the doctor explained.

Women take about 1/10th the dosage of men. Testosterone drops with age for women and men.

And what about the Houston businessman and his wife?

"It was the very thing that brought us together and here we are returning to it," he said.

The testosterone used for sexual dysfunction is the same as that which you've heard some athletes use, though in much lower doses. For hormone replacement, the range is between 400 and 500. Doping involves double, even triple that amount.

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter


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