Q: When I am going through a sexual dry spell, is it normal for me to want to grab anything phallic-shaped and go to town with it? *cough* cucumber *cough*
A: It’s probably just your hormones talking. Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone (sex hormones) all affect the libido in different ways, with estrogen taking center stage during ovulation. Peak ovulation occurs about halfway through your monthly cycle or, on average, 14 days from the first day of your last period. So let’s say that the first day of your period is Day 1; the process of ovulation begins around Day 10 and ends around Day 18 (though keep in mind that not every woman runs on a perfect 28-day cycle). During this week, your estrogen levels peak, as well as the levels of two other hormones that are responsible for the release of the egg. Sexual desire also peaks as a result of that surge, since all your body wants to do is get that little egg fertilized, make a baby and further the species.
If you’re a visual learner, do a Google Images search for “ovulation graph.” It’s sort of a complex process, but pictures can help with understanding what these hormones do and exactly when they’re coursing through your veins, causing you to grasp at whatever cylindrical object is nearest. Also, if you don’t use one already, download one of the dozens of free period tracker apps for your phone. In addition to estimating your peak ovulation dates, they’re also quite handy for planning vacations and special sleepovers with hotties.
Here’s something interesting that I came across recently: Women in polyandrous relationships — two or more partners — have higher levels of testosterone and, in turn, a higher libido. It’s not clear which is the cause and which is the effect, just that the correlation exists. So, should you happen to take on multiple paramours once this dry spell clears up, you might expect to be even more randy. At least then you’ll have better options than produce.
Q: I haven’t had my period in a while due to lack of hormones. My doctor put me on birth control for a while but took me off it to see if my period would return. I haven’t had it since early February, so when my boyfriend visited me, I thought it’d be OK to fool around a bit. We didn’t have sex. He had his boxers on and I kept my panties on, with a liner. He never ejaculated or had pre-cum and nothing wet ever touched me. I’m slightly paranoid and about a week and a half later, I started taking my birth control again to get my period. I’m not sure if it’s the new surge of hormones but I keep thinking I could be pregnant. I’m almost 100 percent sure it’s impossible since no fluids were even present, but a second confirmation would be excellent.
A: Birth control pills contain progestin, which is a synthetic version of progesterone. Returning to the above cucumber conversation for a minute: Part of progesterone’s role is to dampen estrogen’s sexy effects. If estrogen is your fun friend who drops by on rainy days with pot cookies and Doritos, progesterone is your straight-edge friend who spends hours on Wikipedia looking up terminal but undetectable diseases. It can deaden libido as well as cause fatigue, depression and — ding, ding! — anxiety, and the effects are more severe in some women than in others.
I’m sure that by the time this column has been printed, your period has already come and gone, but a third opinion is never a bad idea. Pregnancy tests are less than 10 bucks at Target, and several metro women’s health care centers offer them for free.