Many men might lament that it's not always easy to figure out what is going to turn a woman on. Increasingly, women are lamenting that they themselves don't even know.

Although the issue of a waning female libido resides in the shadows of the more talked about, and more commonly treated, issue of male impotency, the condition is a common and very real problem for women of all ages, and especially those in the hormonal flux of menopause and post-menopause.

There are myriad theories as to what causes the lack of sexual desire in women – stress, diet, boredom, the effects of birth control and the sexual ruts that can occur in long term relationships are all likely factors to a nebulous issue that resides in both the body and the mind. “I don't know what it is,” a Los Angeles-based woman in her mid-twenties says of her sexual relationship with a longterm boyfriend, “but I just don't want him to touch me. I feel guilty. And it's not just him. I'm not attracted to anybody.”

Such female sexual disfunction will be listed as an official diagnosis (to be called female sexual interest/arousal disorder) in the DSM-V, the new edition of the psychiatric diagnostic manual to be published in 2013. According to a 1999 report in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 43 percent of women ages 18 to 59 experience some form of sexual dysfunction, including lack of desire, arousal or orgasm; or pain during intercourse.

Arousal enhancers come in myriad oils, gels and lotions.

Arousal enhancers come in myriad oils, gels and lotions.

Despite this apparently widespread phenomenon, there are no go-to prescription drugs analogous to Levitra and Viagra that have proven effective for men dealing with impotency. Thus, women are more frequently turning to a variety of over the counter products designed to enhance arousal. According to a recent story in the New York Times, the availability of such products is increasing in mainstream outlets throughout the United States. “K-Y Intense, a female arousal gel that claims to heighten clitoral sensitivity, is sold in Walmart, Walgreen and Rite Aid. Sensuva's ON, an arousal oil, can be found in 640 GNC stores nationwide. Intimina by LELO, an 'intimate lifestyle line' that manufactures personal massagers, apparel and “intimate cosmetics,” is sold at Pharmaca Integrative pharmacies. And Zestra Essential Arousal Oil is now sold in 1,800 Walmarts, up from 880 in 2010.”

Sarah Tomchesson, the Director of Business Development and Strategy at longstanding West Hollywood erotic boutique The Pleasure Chest reports that many women come in looking to increase and expand their libido with sexual enhancers like creams and vibrators. “Our sales on stimulating gels for women are increasing, but I think the demand has always been there and now the products are getting better and there is more variety.

“A major factor that is affecting our business, in general, is that the baby boomers are aging,” Tomchesson says. “As we age, our bodies and our sexual responses change. Women, as they approach and go through menopause, find that it can often take longer to become aroused and natural lubrication decreases, which is where stimulating gels and natural lubricants can be very helpful.”

There is currently no prescription medication for female sexual disfunction.

There is currently no prescription medication for female sexual disfunction.

Such products fall into two different types: ones that bring blood flow to the area and increase sensation and those that cause a tingling or a warming sensation. “Both types are popular and it is more a manner of personal preference,” Tomchesson says. “Products that have the amino acid L-Arginine are formulated to bring blood flow to the clit. Vigel is a very popular stimulant for women that uses L-Arginine. All natural products incorporate peppermint or Menthol to create tingling, like Sliquid's Stimulating O Gel. The newest development in women's arousal gels is ON, which is a mix of essential oils that only works on mucus membrane so it is specially formulated for use on the clit or labia and it creates a vibrating sensation. It has become one of our most popular arousal products.”

Despite the solutions offered by such products, the maxim of arousal being first and foremost a function of the mind, stands.

“We forget that our brain is our biggest sex organ and our body cannot become aroused if our mind is not engaged,” Tomchesson says, “I think the first place to start is always getting turned on mentally, whether it be reading erotica, watching porn or putting on a great pair of heels! Whatever that thing is that makes you feel excited, especially about your body, do that first and the rest will come easier.”

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