A New Tool in the Treatment of Sexual Addiction
Michael was a married man in his thirties who found himself acting-out sexually on his business trips with unknown women and with Internet pornography. He spent hundreds of dollars a month on Internet sex. His wife was considering divorce and had decided on a separation.
Michael had a challenging background. His parents divorced when he was 14. He was the oldest of four children and his mother looked to him for emotional support, since she was fairly isolated and worked long hours. His best memories as a child were watching TV.
Helping someone like Michael requires different types of treatment. There is no single answer, and no magic pill. In this brief article, I do not want to describe the many treatments to help those struggling with sexual addiction. My goal here is to mention a new type of treatment, one that may assist or augment its other important treatments.
Many different hormones and psychological factors control human libido. Obviously, libido is affected by other psychological factors also. While I want to discuss a new hormonal treatment, sexual addiction has a psychological basis. A person can come to a place where sexual release is their primary form of nurture. Individuals with limited intimate friendships may find their loneliness is temporarily reduced by sex or release. Anxious feelings and depressed feelings are "treated" briefly by sexual release.
My goal here is not to explore the many ways sexual addiction is promoted or treated, but too propose a new and specific intervention that will decrease libido. Specifically, male libido is affected by testosterone and estrogen. It is the latter hormone I want to discuss. A man may have significant amount of testosterone, but if his estrogen is very low he will have no libido.
Therefore, if we can reduce a man's estrogen below a certain level, we can decrease intrusive sexual thoughts that are the prelude to acting out. One way to reduce estrogen levels in a man is too decrease the functioning of the aromatase enzyme. This enzyme converts testosterone and estrogen. A man can be very athletic, masculine and virile, but have no libido because of the absence of estrogen. Currently there are many anti-aromatase treatments, which reduce estrogen. I will merely discuss two.
One anti-aromatase treatment is a herb and the other is a medication. The first one is chrysin, which has poor absorption from the intestinal tract, and so it should be combined with substances which enhance its absorption. Very high doses of this herb can reduce libido so much that having an erection is difficult. But initially it will decrease estrogen to low levels, which will lower libido.
Another medication, used in breast-cancer survivors and anti-aging medicine, which decreases estrogen in both men and women is Arimedex.
When Michael used Arimedex, he found that his intrusive sexual thoughts were less intense and decreased approximately 70%.
It is not a miracle medication, but for someone with significant struggles with sexuality, with intrusive thoughts that seemed uncontrollable, who is engaging in highly risky sexual behaviors, 70% is a welcome treatment augmentation. He is pursuing other treatments, because he appreciates that Arimedex may help, but it will not heal his past problems or the ways he uses sexuality as the answer to all his problems.
I wish all the Michaels out there much peace.
Dr. James S.