There are ways to jump-start a stalled sex life

Q. I have a problem and I don’t know where to turn. My partner and I don’t have sex very often anymore. We have been together for more than five years.

I became depressed because of work, family and medical issues but worked through it with his help. He is a great man, and I love him more than anything. The problem is that we only have sex three times a month, if I’m lucky.

He says it’s not me, but rather that he is under stress from work, family and friends. Is there anything a woman can do to slow down her sex drive? I love this man and will do anything for him, even give up sex if I must.

A. It should not be necessary to give up sex. According to Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a difference in sex drive between two partners is not unusual. She suggests that in a loving relationship, one partner can help the other achieve sexual satisfaction even without intercourse.

Couples counseling can be helpful. He may need a medical checkup to rule out problems with low testosterone. If he is heavy, weight loss may help. A new study suggests that overweight men may have hormonal imbalances that diminish sex drive (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, April 2009).

No drugs are approved for lowering libido, but many antidepressants have this effect. So does the herb vitex (chaste tree berry).

Q. I have been taking Protonix for heartburn for at least six months. After I learned that long-term use might lead to complications, I tried to stop taking it. Big mistake! After about a week, I had to start taking it again because of severe heartburn — the rebound effect, I suppose. I asked my pharmacist how to discontinue acid- suppressing drugs, but she was unable to find out. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Rebound heartburn may make it difficult to stop medications such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix. As a result, people sometimes end up taking such drugs for years. The consequences might include an increased risk of pneumonia, hip fractures and vitamin B-12 deficiency, which can lead to nerve damage or cognitive problems.

We spoke recently with Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., director of education for the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. She recommends a gradual approach for discontinuing acid-suppressors.

Dr. Low Dog suggests taking ginger capsules and chewing DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) tablets as you phase out Protonix. Probiotics also may be helpful during this time. There is much more information about the pros and cons of acid-suppressing drugs and many nondrug approaches for controlling reflux and heartburn in our book “Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy.” It is available in libraries, bookstores and online at

Q. My doctor recently prescribed Premarin Vaginal Cream. It has improved my life dramatically, reducing dryness and easing other symptoms of menopause. Are there any negative effects? Is it absorbed into my body?

A. Premarin Vaginal Cream contains conjugated estrogens just like Premarin pills. It has recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for vaginal dryness that leads to painful intercourse. The estrogen is absorbed into the body, so discuss the benefits and risks with your physician. According to The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, the long-term safety of vaginal estrogen creams is unclear (Feb. 23, 2009).

XIn their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of The Vindicator or e-mail them via their Web site: Their newest book is “Favorite Home Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.”

2009 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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