Women, Hormones and Mood

Did you know that women experience twice as much depression as men? Would that be because we’re more sensitive? I think not. The explanation which best fits is that we are more affected by hormonal shifts which influence our brain chemistry, particulary around times when our lives change dramatically-like pregnancy and post-birth.

In fact, 1 in 8 women will experience a clinical episode of depression, anxiety, etc. during pregnancy, postpartum and menopause, which is greater than the occurence of most health conditions. So, what will it take for emotional health to become an integral part of women’s health? Why aren’t women being routinely screened for mood and anxiety conditions? How can health conditions which have such a profound impact on developing families continue to be ignored?

I was having this conversation Friday with a local journalist and told him that women must lead the charge like we’ve done with breast cancer. We must come forward and share our stories to support each other in getting the help we need and deserve. We must be prepared to educate our health providers and make it clear that we expect to be cared for-body, mind, heart and soul. We must challenge our own biases about anxiety and depression, and accept them as “health conditions” just like heart disease or diabetes.

Ghandi said, “Become the change you want to see in the world.”

To learn more about hormones and mood, read Women’s Moods about pregnancy and postpartum, The Wisdom of Menopause, and visit www.womenshealth.gov.

Sex Is Good for Our Brains-Who Knew???

According to a recent article by Dr. Oz, sex has some of the same stress-relieving benefits as exercise. In a recent animal study, they found that daily sexual experiences over two-weeks, reduced the release of cortisol, a major stress hormone, increased the brain’s ability to create and support new brain cells, and decreased anxietylike behavior.

Sound like good news? It would be except many women report losing their interest and desire for sex as they get older, and especially once they become moms. Likewise, negative messages they learned growing up may intensify their lack of libido.

For women, sexual desire derives from emotional as well as physical chemistry. Women want to feel an emotional connection with their partners, and when this is absent as often happens over time especially when raising a family, sexual interest diminishes. Midlife is a time when men and women often turn to affairs to  rekindle the spark they once felt with their original partner. However, once the honeymoon ends with the new partner, sexual desire may fade too.

The solution is that we must nourish our relationships with our current partners like we do our children, friends or anyone we love. Then emotional intimacy kindles desire and physical intimacy kindles an emotional connection. And the added benefit, sex is good for our brains. Who Knew???

I’m writing a new book about hormones, libido/desire and intimacy in women. If you have questions or would like to share your stories, please comment or e-mail realmomexperts@gmail.com.