In contrast to the 25 approved sexual health products available by prescription for men, there is not one medical treatment approved for use in women. This disparity exists largely because sexual health problems tend to be far more complex in women than men.

Lack of desire, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), is the most common form of female sexual dysfunction (FSD). With loss of libido, women are more prone to mood problems and relationship discordance — but how do you treat what can’t be measured? Unlike erectile dysfunction in men, libido is not as easily quantified. Furthermore, the multitude of factors that contribute to sexual desire makes a magic bullet solution improbable. For women, sexuality is affected by their stress, fatigue, hormones, mood, self-esteem, body perception, vaginal health, as well as intimacy. Here is a top to bottom six-step approach to rewire the sexual brain.

1. Be sensual

Sex is experienced through our senses and our senses are key to our sexuality. Through scent, taste, and touch, signals are sent to our brain that influence mating, libido, and orgasm. Being sexual then is also about being sensual. By lighting candles, selecting a new scent for our partner and slowing to really taste our foods we can boost our sensuality through our everyday activities.

2. Work on intimacy

Once the novelty factor of a relationship wears off, intimacy is something that must be cultivated and practiced. Planned date nights and romantic dinners can help keep the fire burning. Feeling good about our relationship and our partner bolsters desire.

3. Clear the mental decks

To be more sexual, we must allow ourselves to be more present. Forever the multi-taskers, women tend to be less able than men to set aside their worries and the endless mental to-do list and simply be in the moment. To be sexual we must think sexually too. Clearing your mental slate can allow a more mindful experience.

4. Don’t skip the foreplay

From hosting a party to competing in sport, being prepared is key to a successful outcome.  Sex is no different. Sexual touching is not only considered the socially accepted sexual norm, it is vital to achieving physiological and psychological readiness. Foreplay readies our bodies for sex — exciting our brains, quickening our heartbeat, and preparing the genitals for intercourse; while also relaxing us through stimulating the release of oxytocin. So, be sure not to skip the foreplay for optimal arousal and orgasm.

5. Give the roadmap

Be bold. Take the driver seat through the sexual encounter and guide your partner. Our erogenous zones can change as we age and are often distinct from the sexual organs. Whether it is on the lips, the ear, the scalp, or the mons (pubic bone) — women want and need to be touched for proper sexual function. Couples can help each other by sharing the roadmap to their erogenous zones.

6. Balance hormones

When it comes to hormone therapy to support sexual function, testosterone is king. This male sex hormone drives sexual function from libido to orgasm in both men and women. In women, testosterone falls rapidly after menopause triggering a diminished or absent libido. While testosterone has been shown to help all aspects of sexual function in women, there are no government approved forms indicated for use in women in North America. A qualified medical expert experienced in custom compounding can provide a form that may be preferable to using a male product off-label.

Sexual dysfunction remains a complex and inadequately addressed concern amongst women. The solutions need to be as multi-faceted as the problem. This top-to-bottom 6-step approach can help women rekindle their desire and optimize their sexuality and vitality.