Help for Wives With a Low Sex Drive

Help for Wives With a Low Sex Drive

Serious couple talking in cafe
Lumina Images / Getty Images

It is not unusual for a heterosexual couple to have a disparity in their sex drives, and it is not uncommon for women in a long-term relationship to have the lower libido. This can be distressing and lead to conflict within a marriage, and the causes vary greatly from one woman to the next. It may be due to an underlying medical issue, emotional concerns, or stress within the relationship.

In this situation, it's important to identify the root cause so you can do your best to rectify and treat it. Intimacy is one of the keys to a healthy marriage and if one partner feels left out because his needs are not being met, this can cause additional stress in the relationship.

Low Libido in Women

Women's sexuality is more complicated than men's. Science backs this up, noting that men naturally have a stronger libido and think about sex more often than women. One of strongest factors impacting a woman's drive is the quality of her relationship and emotional connection to her sexual partner. 

Low libido can be both a cause or a result of marital distress. If it is not addressed, this can be a severe detriment to a marriage and may even lead to divorce.

You owe it to yourself and to your husband to see your doctor or a sex therapist and discuss what could be causing your lack of interest in sex. This is a situation where communication between spouses is critical. By talking about it and trying to find a solution together, it can strengthen your bond as a couple and a supportive partner can make a big difference.  

Sexual Dysfunction Definitions

There is debate as to whether or not a woman's sex drive should be viewed as a disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) used by mental health professionals, it would have to rise to the level of causing her significant distress due to recurrently deficient (or absent) sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity.

Medically, doctors have terms for various sexual dysfunctions. Some, however, cannot be properly classified, so it's important to remember that none of these may apply to you.

  • Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD): lack of interest in sex, low libido 
  • Dyspareunia: painful sexual intercourse
  • Anorgasmia: inability to reach orgasm
  • Difficulty in becoming aroused

When talking to your doctors, keep these questions in mind: 

  • What may be some of the causes of my low sex drive?
  • What can I expect in terms of treatment success?
  • What changes can I make on my own to improve my sex drive?
  • Which treatments would be most helpful for me?
  • Are there books or websites that you can you recommend on this issue?

Possible Medical Causes

One of the first things to rule out when you're experiencing a low libido is a medical issue. Some conditions can lower a woman's sex drive, as can the medications used to treat those conditions. A visit with your medical doctor will ensure your physical health is not a factor, and a psychiatrist can address mental health concerns.

  • Surgery impacting body image or damaging the body
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, arthritis, anemia, cardiovascular disease, or endocrine or neurological disorders
  • Chronic or physical pain, which may be associated with a medical condition
  • Depression and anxiety disorders
  • Antidepressants and other medications
  • Incontinence

Women are very hormonal throughout their lives. Fluctuations in hormones and your reproductive system will happen as you age or go through certain periods of your life. These, in turn, can cause rises and falls in your libido. A discussion with your doctor is a good idea to deal with any of the following:

  • Hormone deficiency, hormonal fluctuations, or low levels of testosterone
  • Diminished blood flow to the vagina and uterus
  • Injury to nerves and blood vessels after a hysterectomy
  • Menopause

Possible Personal Causes

Women have to deal with many things in their daily life, and any of these can have an impact on your libido. For example, many women have less desire for sex after they have children. Sometimes this is due to a higher level of stress or fatigue or because they feel their lives are just too busy. It's also common to hear about women who don't want to "wake the baby."

Beyond kids, you might be feeling a higher level of stress from work or you may be dealing with emotional issues from the past. Any of these can negatively affect your libido as well. For the sake of your relationship, it's good to take an honest look at any of these factors and devise a plan with your partner to overcome any that may be affecting you.

  • Childbirth
  • Use of illegal substances
  • Emotional problems
  • High level of stress
  • Anger
  • Fatigue
  • Conflict concerning sexual orientation
  • Childhood sexual abuse

Possible Relationship Causes

The other aspect to consider is your relationship. This is where it's vital that you work as a team to resolve any potential issues. After all, sex, relationships, and marriage are not a one-person arrangement; they involve two people.

If any of these are factors for you, a marriage counselor, sex therapist, or your religious advisor may be a good person to seek help from:

  • Marriage problems and unresolved relationship issues
  • Desire to punish or control husband
  • Power issues in marriage
  • Infidelity

Treating a Woman's Low Libido

A low sex drive can be treated with medications. Unfortunately, medical interventions for women have not been as successful as they have been with men's sexuality. Nonetheless, your doctor may recommend and prescribe one of the following:

Alternatively, you may be interested in pursuing more natural means of raising your libido. Natural aphrodisiacs found in food such as chocolate and strawberries may be enough to get you in the mood. Some women also turn to hypnosis or other alternative medicine approaches.

Feeling good about yourself and your relationship is vital to a woman's sex drive. The emotional connection and our overall well-being cannot be underestimated in this situation.

If you have identified some issues that are affecting you, you might be surprised what good communication, a happier disposition, and a healthy body image can do for your sex life. To achieve these, try:

Your First Steps

If you are a woman and have a low sex drive that is causing friction in your marriage, there may not be an easy cure or treatment. However, once the underlying cause is discovered, you can find the best treatment option.

You don't want to let this problem go on and on and not address it. Seek out the help of a trusted professional, such as your OB/GYN, general physician, or a psychotherapist to start the process of getting help. An individualized treatment plan can be developed to address your particular needs and circumstances. 

As you work through things, try to find the romantic spark in the smallest places. Maybe it's that little tingle you get when he kisses your neck, the warm feeling of an embrace, or some snuggle time on the couch. Opening yourself up to a little love can lead to spontaneous moments that can do wonders for your sex life.

In today's society, we can often get too wrapped up in everything we need to do that we forget about enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Sex is one of those pleasures that comes with an intimate relationship and it's just as emotional as it is physical. Keep this in mind and consider ways that you can prioritize your marriage within your life.

Was this page helpful?
View Article Sources
  • Faubion SS, Rullo JE. Sexual Dysfunction in Women: A Practical Approach. American Family Physician. 2015;92(4):281–288.
  • Sine R. Sex Drive: How Do Men and Women Compare? WebMD. 2013