Hormones – clocks for lust, love and sex

Hormones - clocks for lust, love and sex

They are one of the long-running hits in our media landscape and reach an audience of millions with an openness that can hardly be surpassed: the countless reports, talk shows and depictions of love, lust and sex. In reality, what often sounds so simple in the media leads to quarrels and resentment among many couples because women do not always feel like they want to be together when their partner feels like being together – but there is usually a lack of love, not the cause. Is the idea of ​​love = sex an equation with many unknowns, and is female pleasure unpredictable?

Love = lust, a myth.

Even if a woman loves a man, it does not mean that she always wants to have sex with him. Headaches, migraines, or laundry days were once suitable excuses for our great-grandmothers to deny themselves.

Today, most women feel that the menstrual cycle, with its hormonal fluctuations, affects mood and well-being. Superficially, this means desire around ovulation displeasure before the period. How can this be explained?


How the menstrual cycle affects female desire

During the first two weeks of the cycle, a follicle matures in the ovary. During this time, estrogen levels increase tenfold. Estrogens are responsible for good mood, vigour, and well-being. At midcycle, the egg bursts from its sac, is released, and travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. The so-called corpus luteum develops from the disintegrating shell of the follicle. It forms the corpus luteum hormone progesterone. If the egg is not fertilized, the corpus luteum shrinks, hormone production collapses, and menstrual bleeding occurs.

The corpus luteum hormone is an antagonist of estrogens. It has a calming, sleep-inducing and anxiolytic effect in most women. If estrogen and corpus luteum hormones drop around menstruation, we speak of hormone withdrawal symptoms. These are characterized, among other things, by depressive moods, tension and irritability, and there is no question of a desire for sex.

In this phase, many women suffer from headaches and migraines and are prone to food cravings. These symptoms disappear when the next follicle matures, and estrogens are produced again.

Around ovulation, the desire for sex is probably greatest due to the influence of male hormones.

How do male hormones work?

Male hormones (androgens) also set the pace for women’s sexual desire. They even outperform estrogens in their effect. It is testosterone and DHEA/-S (dehydroepiandrosterone/sulphate). Testosterone is produced in the ovaries, the adrenal cortex and other organs, such as fatty tissue. DHEA/-S is formed almost exclusively in the adrenal cortex and is partly converted into testosterone by the organism. At the time of ovulation, this increases by around 30% for a short time.

What the male hormones do in women and what they are used for was unclear for a long time. Even if there is no definitive “Androgen Deficiency Syndrome,” sure signs are closely associated with a male hormone deficiency. These include:

  • sexual listlessness
  • Tiredness with no apparent cause
  • reduction in well-being
  • Decrease in pubic hair
  • recovery of the muscles

Intensive research is being carried out into developing preparations to compensate for an “androgen deficiency”.


When there is frustration instead of pleasure

Problems related to sexuality are not uncommon, and many couples still find it difficult to talk about sex. Due to shame or fear of rejection, there are inhibitions to sharing what and when they feel like it and when they don’t.

Sexual reluctance, pain during sex, problems with orgasm and difficulties with sexual arousal are by no means the only problems of older women going through menopause. Younger women are just as affected, and they rarely speak openly about their problems.

The “female affairs” initiative wants to help get the conversation about sex out of the taboo zone. Prof. Dr Elisabeth Merkle, gynaecologist in Bad Reichenhall: “Our team of experts would like to close knowledge gaps and improve education”.

Recognize stumbling blocks

“The stubborn myth persists: if a man and a woman love each other, then the sex is right.” This widespread misconception brushes aside physical and mental obstacles, fueling insecurity and feelings of inferiority.

Not only the lack of knowledge that hormones set the pace but also everyday stress, household and work, raising children, unemployment and existential worries, as well as the fear of an unwanted pregnancy, often destroy the desire for sex.

In addition, according to new findings, women with diabetes, metabolic syndrome and smokers often suffer from a lack of libido. A possible bladder weakness should not be underestimated either.

The desire for sex loses its individuality, especially when certain norms of desire want to dictate what is expected and what is not. Then voluntariness and spontaneity become a must or desire dictate, and the problems of love and desire harden through resignation and speechlessness.

Get advice from the gynaecologist.

The professional association of gynaecologists advises jumping over one’s shadow and speaking out about individual problems. Gynecologists are prepared to offer solutions for women and their partners in questions of sexuality.

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