Contraceptives and libido: no consensus

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

April 18, 2004|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

In January I started taking birth control pills. Since then, I have not only gained weight, I've have also lost all desire to have sex.

I am 22 years old and have been married for three years to a wonderful man. This is very frustrating for both of us. Could this be due to birth control pills?

The effect of oral contraceptives on libido remains controversial. Some studies suggest that birth control pills might lower testosterone and diminish sexual desire. A study in chimpanzees showed lower levels of sexual activity when the females were given oral contraceptives.

Other research indicates that women vary in their response to such hormones. Some report greater enjoyment, but there does not appear to be consensus on whether birth control pills increase, reduce or have no impact on libido in general.

Since you have noticed a change in weight as well as sex drive, you might be especially sensitive to the effects of your contraceptive. Please check with your health-care provider about other options.

I have suffered from severe dandruff all of my life, and nothing helped. Then I tried washing my hair with Listerine, and have been dandruff-free since. It's nothing short of a miracle cure.

We are delighted that you have had such success. Many others have written to report that Listerine was once promoted as a dandruff treatment and that they too have found it helpful.

Do you know why they took a cough medicine called terpin hydrate off the market? It always worked for me. This stuff was great but tasted terrible. Is there anything like it on the market?

Terpin hydrate was used as an expectorant to loosen mucus and relieve coughs and congestion for more than 100 years. It was derived from compounds found in plants like oregano, thyme and eucalyptus.

A Food and Drug Administration official once confided to us that he personally found terpin hydrate helpful. However, the agency banned the product because of a lack of data demonstrating effectiveness.

You might find that thyme tea can help ease a cough. Just brew a cup with 1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves from the kitchen spice shelf and sweeten with honey.

I am taking Lipitor. When I started the drug (10 milligrams per day), I experienced short-term memory loss. I negotiated with my doctor to reduce the dose to 5 milligrams, and the improvement was remarkable.

Some doctors are now saying I should be taking as much as 80 milligrams per day. I might live longer, but I won't remember anything. Do you have any information on this problem?

Recent studies demonstrate that lowering LDL cholesterol below 100 provides significant protection from heart disease in high-risk patients. Many people will need a statin-type drug like Lipitor to achieve this goal.

Not everyone can tolerate such drugs, though. Some people have muscle pain and weakness, and others report trouble with memory.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them from their Web site, www.peoples pharmacy.org.

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