Relationships Spouses & Partners Marital Problems Low Sex Drive in Women: 'I Have No Sex Drive,' and It's Ruining My Relationship Learn about medical and lifestyle treatments that can boost your libido. By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 22, 2023 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Anita Sadaty, MD Medically reviewed by Anita Sadaty, MD Facebook LinkedIn Anita Sadaty, MD, is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist at North Shore University Hospital and founder of Redefining Health Medical. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Signs & Symptoms of a Low Sex Drive in Women Diagnosing a Low Sex Drive in Women What Causes Women to Have a Low Sex Drive? Treatments It is not unusual for couples to have a disparity in their sex drives. More often than not, women deal with a lower sex drive than men. This can be distressing for both partners and even put the relationship at risk if it can't be resolved. The good news is that identifying the root cause of low libido can lead to effective treatment options. Read ahead to learn more about understanding the causes of your low sex drive, symptoms, and options you can try to boost your libido. Signs & Symptoms of a Low Sex Drive in Women The medical term for low sex drive 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. Some of the symptoms of HSDD include: Difficulty obtaining pleasure from sex or genital stimulationDisinterest in initiating sex Lack of interest in sexual activity Non-existent sexual thoughts or fantasies Why You Have Sexual Fantasies and What They Mean Diagnosing a Low Sex Drive in Women Research has found that the female sex drive differs from that of men and that women naturally have lower libidos and think about sex less often than men. Diagnosing Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR), to be diagnosed with HSDD, the lack of desire must cause someone significant distress and negatively affect their relationships or self-esteem, for six months or more. It is important to note that some fluctuations in sexual desire are natural and healthy. Many other factors can reduce sexual desire that wouldn't qualify as HSDD. To rule out HSDD, work with your doctor to identify any potential causes and treatment options. Since there are no specific medical tests that can diagnose HSDD, your doctor will want to know about your symptoms to understand more about how your low sex drive is impacting your relationships and life. What Causes Women to Have a Low Sex Drive? Low sex drive in women has many potential causes, including: Perimenopause/menopauseAgingUnderlying medical issues (e.g., cancer, bladder/bowel issues)Emotional or psychological problemsStressAnxietyCertain medicationsRelationship stressSexual trauma Medical Factors Sometimes, an underlying medical condition may be behind low sex drive. The following conditions and medications can potentially lower sex drive: Antidepressants Being overweight or obese Blood pressure medications 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 Conditions, such as vulvodynia, that make sex painful Depression and anxiety disorders Diminished blood flow to the vagina and uterus Hormone deficiency, hormonal fluctuations, or low levels of testosterone Incontinence Injury to blood vessels or nerves after a hysterectomy or other surgery involving the reproductive organs Menopause, pregnancy, or breastfeeding In cases where medications, such as antidepressants, cause a lowered sex drive, your doctor may suggest a prescription with fewer side effects. Do not stop taking your medications without your doctor’s approval. Coping With Sexual Side Effects From Antidepressants Personal Factors Daily life stresses can have an impact on your sex drive. Pregnancy Many women, for example, have a lower desire for sex during and after pregnancy due to being extra busy and fatigued or focusing more on their children than the marriage. If your body has changed over time or after giving birth, that can also take a toll. Stress Work stress can negatively affect your sex drive as well, especially when 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 smoking and drinking more alcohol than usual or using other substances—prescription or otherwise—your sex drive will likely suffer as a result. Relationship-Based Factors 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: Desire to punish or control your partner by withholding sex Infidelity Long-standing unresolved relationship issues and resentment Power imbalances in the relationship Infidelity: Signs, Types, and How to Cope Treatment of Low Sex Drive in Women Once you have identified the issues contributing to your low sex drive, you can begin treatment. The following two columns provide the types of interventions your doctor may recommend or prescribe to increase your sex drive. Non-Pharmacologic Stress reduction Behavioral therapy Altering bad habits Exercise Weight loss Marriage counseling Individual therapy Better communication with spouse Pharmacologic Eros-CTD device O-Shot Addyi (flibanserin) Testosterone cream Estrogen patch or pills Vaginal lubricants Vyleesi Therapy and Lifestyle Changes If the problems are identified to be stress- or relationship-based, there are several approaches that may help. Your doctor may suggest counseling to devise a plan (ideally with your partner involved in the process) to overcome any issues that may be affecting your relationship. This is where it's vital that you and your partner work as a team with a therapist to resolve any potential issues. A therapist can help teach you how to better communicate with your partner and suggest sexual techniques right for your relationship to create a more pleasurable experience. Lifestyle changes you can make include: Exercising regularlyUsing mindfulness-based interventionsAvoiding tobacco and alcoholSetting aside time for intimacy or sexual experimentation (using sex toys, new positions, or role-playing) Medical Interventions A low sex drive can also be treated with medications; unfortunately, medical interventions for women have not been as successful as those for men. Estrogen Therapy Due to reduced blood flow to the vagina, many premenopausal and postmenopausal women experience changes in estrogen levels. If low estrogen levels are the cause of your HSDD symptoms, then your doctor may recommend estrogen therapy using a cream, suppository, or ring that releases estrogen in the vagina without the unwanted side effects that come with estrogen pills. The O-Shot An injection called the O-Shot, a plasma solution that a medical professional injects into the vagina, also improves blood flow and circulation. The procedure is still new and has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Clitoral Therapy The Eros clitoral therapy device, or Eros-CTD, is a small, hand-held device fitted with a removable, replaceable small plastic cup used to improve blood flow to the clitoris and genitalia using a vacuum system. The FDA cleared Eros Therapy in April 2000 to treat sexual arousal and orgasmic disorders. The device costs about $400; a prescription is required in the United States. Addyi Another treatment option is a pill called Addyi (flibanserin), which is an oral prescription drug that works on brain chemicals to increase desire. However, the drug has potential side effects, including low blood pressure, fainting, and dizziness. Vyleesi One of the most recent entries in the treatment arena is Vyleesi (bremelanotide), which the FDA approved for use in premenopausal women in 2019. It's an at-home, self-administered injection used before sexual activity. Vyleesi activates receptors in the brain, but researchers don't know exactly why it works to increase sexual desire. What to Do If Your Partner Has Lost Interest in Sex 16 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Friedmann E, Cwikel J. 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Changes in the sexual function during pregnancy. J Sex Med. 2015;12(2):445-454. doi:10.1111/jsm.12747 Nappi RE, Martini E, Terreno E, et al. Management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women: current and emerging therapies. Int J Womens Health. 2010;2:167-75. English C, Muhleisen A, Rey JA. Flibanserin (Addyi): The First FDA-Approved Treatment for Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder in Premenopausal Women. P T. 2017;42(4):237-241. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves new treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women. June 21, 2019 Additional Reading Laumann EO, Paik A, Rosen RC. Sexual dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and predictors. JAMA. 1999;281:537-44. By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! 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