Help for Women With Low Sex Drive

It is not unusual for couples to have a disparity in their sex drives. More often than not, in a heterosexual relationship, it's the woman who has the lower libido. This can be distressing for both partners and even put the relationship at risk if it can't be resolved. Low sex drive in women has many potential causes, including underlying medical issues, emotional or psychological problems, or work- and family-related stress. The good news is that identifying the root cause of low libido can lead to effective treatment.

Sexual Dysfunction, Defined

The medical term for low libido and lack of interest in sex is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), though there is some debate as to whether or not a woman's lack of 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, the lack of desire would have to rise to the level where it causes the woman significant distress. So if you aren't bothered by your low sex drive, you probably don't technically have HSDD. There are many other factors that can reduce desire that don't qualify as HSDD per se.

Women's sex drive is also 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.

Medical Causes of Low Libido

The first thing to rule out when you're experiencing a low libido is a medical issue. Conditions and medications that can potentially lower your sex drive include:

  • Injury to blood vessels or nerves after a hysterectomy or other surgery involving the reproductive organs
  • Chronic health 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
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Incontinence
  • Hormone deficiency, hormonal fluctuations, or low levels of testosterone
  • Diminished blood flow to the vagina and uterus
  • Conditions, such as vulvodynia, that make sex painful
  • Menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding

If you're concerned that there may be a medical cause of your low libido, schedule a visit with your doctor, who can help rule out and/or identify potential causes as well as offer treatment options.

Personal Causes

Daily life stresses can have an impact on your libido. Many women, for example, have a lower desire for sex after they have children due to being extra-busy and fatigued, or because they become focused more on their children than the marriage. If your body has changed over time or after giving birth, that can also take a toll.

Work stress can negatively affect your libido as well, especially when combined with having to care for a family. By the end of the day, sleep becomes the priority, not sex. And if you are dealing with your stress by drinking more alcohol than usual or using other substances—prescription or otherwise—your libido will likely suffer as a result.

Relationship-Related Causes

The other aspect to consider is your relationship. One of the strongest factors impacting a woman's drive is the quality of her relationship and emotional connection to her sexual partner. Problems that may interfere with your sex life include:

  • Long-standing unresolved relationship issues and resentment
  • A desire to punish or control your husband by withholding sex
  • Infidelity
  • Power imbalances in the relationship

For the sake of your relationship, it's good to take an honest look at these factors—ideally with the help of a couples counselor—and devise a plan with your partner to overcome any that may be affecting you. 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.

Treating Low Libido

Once you have identified the issues that are contributing to your low libido, you can begin to get treatment. If the problems seem stress or relationship based, the following there several approaches that may help. You might be surprised what good communication, a happier disposition, and a healthy body image can do for your sex life.

A low sex drive can also be treated with medications, though, unfortunately, medical interventions for women have not been as successful as they have been men.

Non-Pharmacologic

Pharmacologic

  • Eros-CD device

  • O-Shot

  • Addyi (flibanserin)

  • Testosterone cream

  • Estrogen patch or pills

  • Vaginal lubricants

Your doctor may recommend or prescribe a device or pharmacologic intervention. Eros-CD is a small, hand-held device fitted with a removable, replaceable small plastic cup used to improve blood flow to the clitoris and genitalia. O-Shot is a plasma solution that is injected into the vagina to improve blood flow and circulation Addyi is an oral prescription drug that works on brain chemicals to increase desire.

Finally, 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.

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