Low Sex Drive In Women

1 What is Low Sex Drive in Women?

Low sexual drive is the most common form of female sexual dysfunction (FSD).

FSD, the general medical term for disturbance in women's sexual functioning, also includes:

  • female sexual arousal disorders,
  • sexual pain disorders
  • and female orgasmic disorder.

For this to be regarded as a disorder, it must cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulties and not be better accounted for by another mental disorder, a drug (legal or illegal), or some other medical condition.

A person will not start, or respond to their partner's desire for, sexual activity.

2 Symptoms

There are no specific symptoms that define low sexual drive in women.

In general, where there is less desire of sexual intimacy of female as compared to males it is defined as low sex drive. Often women define it is as they do not want to indulge in any kind of sexual activities, they cannot fantasize sex, neither can they enjoy self stimulation or any kind of pleasure associated with sex life.

They remain in stress every time and pre-occupied with their own thoughts all time.

Psychological or psychiatric consultation is necessary for proper diagnosis.

The following are examples of common signs and symptoms:

  • Little or no interest in sexual activity
  • Decreased frequency in sexual activity
  • Decreased frequency in sexual activity becomes a problem in the relationship and causes conflict
  • Apathetic feelings during sex, despite attempting to please one’s partner
  • Habituation to his/her partner that results in decreased desire to engage in sexual activity with that person
  •  Selective desire deficiency, in which an individual may be physically aroused but emotionally absent.
  • No interest in pursuing sexual interaction
  • Physical signs may include vaginal dryness, weakened erections, decreased genital sensation, difficulty achieving orgasm, and/or genital pain with or without sexual contact
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3 Causes

Causes of low sex drive in women include:

Physical causes

  • Anemia, which is quite common in women because of iron loss during periods.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Drug abuse.
  • Major diseases, such as diabetes.
  • Post-baby 'coolness', a term coined for the loss of libido that often happens after childbirth. It is almost certainly linked to hormonal changes that occur at this time, though this has still not been proven. The general trauma of childbirth also plays a part – and after having a baby, many women are too exhausted to think about sex.
  • Prescribed drugs, particularly tranquillizers.
  • Hyperprolactinaemia – a rare disorder in which the pituitary gland is overactive.
  • Other hormone abnormalities: Abnormalities in the production of luteinising hormone (LH) often cause lack of desire, though there is little world-wide backing for this idea. Many women who have lost their libido lack androgenic (male) hormones, like testosterone. 

Contrary to myth, the menopause doesn't usually cause loss of libido, and indeed many women feel a lot sexier and have more orgasms in the postmenopausal part of their life.

Psychological causes

These causes are very common. It's understandable that when a woman is having a bad time emotionally, she may lose interest in sex.

Psychological causes include:

  • depression
  • stress and overwork
  • anxiety
  • hang-ups from childhood
  • past sexual abuse or rape
  • latent lesbianism
  • serious relationship problems with your partner
  • Difficult living conditions, e.g. sharing a home with parents or parents-in-law.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Because every woman is different, there is no official threshold or diagnostic test that tells whether a woman has low sex drive or not. The main symptom of low sex drive in women is a lack of interest in sex. Rather, diagnosis depends on how distressed she is about her low sex drive and whether it’s causing any problems for her.

However, if a woman does express concerns about low libido, doctors will usually try to pinpoint any underlying causes. They often start by looking for related physical causes and do a complete medical workup, including a medical history, screening tests, and pelvic exam.

Doctors might also refer women to a counselor or sex therapist to see whether there are emotional or relationship issues that need attention.

5 Treatment

Treatment of low sex drive in women may include:

Addressing certain medical conditions

Low sexual desire suggests the need for screening for endocrine disorders, chronic illness, or long-term medication use. Please consult your doctor to rule out any medical conditions and prior to stopping or changing any of your medications.

Drug Treatment

Please consult your doctor for a proper medical assessment and advice.

  • The use of testosterone appears to have a direct role in sexual desire and has been shown to increase desire, but its long-term use is limited by potential side effects, including cardiovascular and liver dysfunction. Clinical evaluations and applications are limited and no guidelines for testosterone replacement therapy for women with disorders of desire and no consensus of "normal" or "therapeutic" levels of testosterone therapy exist.
  • Antidepressants may help depression-related low desire, although many of these medications decrease sexual desire, at least initially.
  • In peri- and postmenopausal women, the relationship between hormones and sexuality is unclear. Nonetheless, estrogens replacement therapy has been shown to correlate positively with sexual activity, enjoyment and fantasies. The mechanism of estrogens effect on desire is probably indirect and occurs through improvement in urogenital atrophy, vasomotor symptoms and menopausal mood disorders (i.e., depression).

Sex Therapy/Counseling

When no causative medical disorder is found, individual or couples therapy is often recommended.

Sex therapy/counseling for hypoactive sexual desire disorder or miss matched libidos may include some of the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Anxiety reduction/desensitization
  • Psycho education
  • Enhancing communication
  • Promoting sexual intimacy
  • Addressing fears, conflict and anger
  • Behavioral assignments/homework exercises

6 Prevention

As a woman, to prevent low sex drive, it is best to speak with your gynecologist to make sure you are in good sexual health.

Since sexual dysfunction in women is often linked to depression or menopause, it may help to see a healthcare professional before it becomes a serious problem. Many of the underlying causes of sexual dysfunction are not preventable, but early treatment may minimize the woman's problems.

  • Support your adrenal glands. Especially if a demanding work schedule is a reality for you, you’ll need to take extra good care of your body and in particular your adrenal glands. Dietary and lifestyle modifications might perhaps help.
  • Make pleasure part of your job. Don’t just survive through your day, thrive within it. Adding pleasure to your day in simple non-sexual ways can greatly improve your ability to feel pleasure in the bedroom. Try bringing flowers to your desk or playing music you love during your morning commute. Indulge in body lotions or perfumes (organic, of course!) that make you feel beautiful. Get regular massages.
  • Take matters into your own hands. To clarify that one, you need to ask for you what you want, but first know what you want. Make time to research your sexuality and the underlying causes of your low libido. Read tasteful erotica and see what turns you on. Once you know yourself better, don’t be shy to ask for assistance or experimentation from your partner.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Several alternative remedies exist for low sex drive in women.

The American Psychiatric Association states that bupropion hydrochloride sustained-release tablets, a common treatment for depression, are reportedly effective in treating HSSD in females.

Almost one-third of females treated with these tablets reported an increase in the number of episodes of

  • sexual arousal,
  • sexual fantasy,
  • and interest in engaging in sexual activity.

Results were seen in as early as two weeks from the start of treatment. Reported side effects of the drug include

  • insomnia,
  • tremor,
  • rash,
  • hives,
  • and urticaria.

A non-pharmaceutical option has also been given to females suffering from any type of female sexual dysfunction. One current device being investigated is the clitoral therapy device called the EROS-CTD.

The device works by creating a gentle suction over the clitoris and surrounding tissue, with the goal of increasing blood flow to that area. This device is meant to enhance sensation and lubrication and eventually increased overall clitoral blood flow over time.

Recent biochemical researches suggest that HSDD can be treated by regulating certain neurotransmitter levels. Increasing dopamine and decreasing serotonin activity levels can result in increased sexual desire.

The new drug, Lorexys, works by combining two antidepressant medications that together cause synergistic effect on the central nervous system that can treat HSDD. This drug is currently still being researched and is not yet available.
Other treatments include the use of sensate focus, masturbation, and Kegel exercises.

One of the most basic therapies used to help the partner who is experiencing the low sex drive is to encourage sexual self-exploration. That person is instructed to follow the seven-step model illustrated below in privacy with soothing music playing in the background.

  • Look at his/her own body (in private, perhaps after bathing)
  • Feel his/her own body
  • Touch parts that feel arousing
  • Try to get sexually aroused
  • Extend masturbation until orgasm
  • Allow partner to watch his/her masturbation
  • Allow partner to imitate his/her techniques

This technique, along with the other treatments, may help to increase a female’s sexual desire. If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with this disorder, it is important to seek medical attention first.

The cause may be an underlying medical issue that can be alleviated by a physician. Seeking therapy for nonmedical etiologies can also be beneficial.

Finally, open and effective communication in a romantic relationship is just as important as seeking external care. It is important to find the root of your low sex drive whether it be

  • physiological,
  • psychological,
  • or interpersonal.

Proper identification of the cause is essential for successful treatment.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Healthy lifestyle changes can help with low sex drive in women:

  • Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise and strength training can increase your stamina, improve your body image, elevate your mood and boost your libido.
  • Stress less: Finding a better way to cope with work stress, financial stress and daily hassles can enhance your sex drive.
  • Communicate with your partner: Couples who learn to communicate in an open, honest way usually maintain a stronger emotional connection, which can lead to better sex. Communicating about sex also is important. Talking about your likes and dislikes can set the stage for greater sexual intimacy.
  • Set aside time for intimacy: Scheduling sex into your calendar may seem contrived, but making intimacy a priority can help put your sex drive back on track.
  • Add a little spice to your sex life: Try a different sexual position, a different time of day, a different location for sex and more foreplay.
  • Ditch bad habits: Smoking, illegal drugs and excess alcohol can all dampen sexual desire. Ditching these bad habits may help rev up your sexual desire as well as improve your overall health.
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