Sue shares how she discovered she had female sexual dysfunction and discusses the hormones that affect this.
My name is Sue Goldstein. I have the unique privilege of being involved in sexual medicine as a patient and as a professional. But let me take you back to when I was just a patient.
What was special about my life was that I am married to a man who is an expert in women’s sexual health problems, but I didn’t know there was anything wrong with me. I thought something was wrong with him.
Sex was lousy. I am going back quite a few years and I have to tell you first that sex has been great for so long that I am going to be stretching my memory to remember it all.
So that’s hope for all of you out there. But it was maybe early 50s sex was really lousy and I knew that 50 percent of men by the time they were 50, had erectile difficulties.
And I thought, how am I going to tell my husband who treats men for sexual health problems all day long and some women, how was I going to tell him he just wasn’t what he used to be?
Well one day he came off from work, after I had been avoiding sex for a fair amount of time and he said, “Sue, take this questionnaire. This is what I give my female patients to try to diagnose their sexual problems.”
Now mind you, I had still never mentioned anything to him and I thought he was having sexual problems.
When he approached me I didn’t turn away but I just let him sleep at night, didn’t wake him up, didn’t turn on the music – yeah everyone knows what I am talking about.
So I took the questionnaire and he looked at the answers and he goes, “Holy…, you have FSD.” Well, suddenly we had permission to talk about it because I wasn’t offending him that I thought he had a sexual problem.
It was me and the whole world opened up. I said okay, sex isn’t fun anymore.
I am having trouble orgasming, where I used to have four or five orgasms every time we had sex. I am having trouble lubricating, when he used to touch me and I would lubricate.
So I said to my husband, “Make me better.” The next day I went with him to the office. I had my bloods drawn because obviously I couldn’t be treated till we knew exactly what was wrong, and discovered that while my estrogens were still perfectly normal I had not reached menopause yet, my testosterone was low.
So we started on the androgen therapy and within a few weeks I was starting to feel better.
But let me just go backwards a little. Besides the sexual problems I was having night sweats.
Those of you going through perimenopause will know what I am talking about, wakes you up anywhere from once to multiple times a night, anywhere from one night to multiple nights a week.
So for me it was probably once a night, couple of nights a week, having lousy sleep and when you have lousy sleep you have lousy days after.
Within about six weeks of starting the androgen therapy the night sweats were gone. The sexual life wasn’t quite better yet but the night sweats were gone and I said, “You are not taking this medication away from me. I like my sleep.”
Slowly I started to be able to be aroused again. My orgasm ability returned but about six months down the line I will always remember being in the kitchen and thinking, how am I going to keep my husband awake tonight?
Light the candles, turn on the music, and I go, oh my gosh, that’s desire. I don’t remember the last time I had felt desire and all of sudden I realized I was thinking about sex.
It was sort of the full circle of the return of my sexual life. Well, that was great and then I hit menopause. Everything changed again.
What happens in your body is there’s an enzyme in your body that actually changes the testosterone to estrogen and so the testosterone, as I got less estrogen in my body, was still being converted.
And all of a sudden that enzyme stopped working. So while I had the testosterone I didn’t have the estrogen, so my sexual problem started all over again but this time I recognized them. I didn’t need to wait for my husband to come home with a questionnaire.
“Okay, Irwin, make me better again. There’s something wrong. I enjoy having sex with you and I don’t enjoy not having sex with you, make me better.”
Again blood tests, and this time I added estrogen to my therapies and good sex returned. It’s been quite a few years now.
I am still using androgens; I am still using estrogens. I use both systemic and local estrogen and I use testosterone faithfully.
My sex life is great and I have to say I am 60 years old. I don’t have any kids in my house. I travel a lot with my husband because we work together and it’s so nice to be able to say, let’s have sex right now, and both of us enjoy it.
I really believe that, in our youth we are not comfortable telling our partners what does and does not feel good. Then we spend all those years raising our kids, developing our businesses and sex just doesn’t seem to be really important.
And then suddenly you are getting towards those more senior years and you have the time and you have the closeness with your partner and you have the self-confidence to be able to talk about your sex life. But when your body does not respond it’s lousy.
So that’s my sex life in a nutshell and it’s good and there is nothing better than sex with your partner, your lifetime partner on a Sunday afternoon with the sun streaming through the windows, fresh sheets on the bed and both of you reaching orgasm and satisfaction.