What Is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?

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What Is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a sexual dysfunction that causes a person to lose interest and desire in sex and sexual activities. The lack of interest in sex and sexual activities should last for an extended period in order for it to be diagnosed as HSDD.

While this condition can affect anyone, it predominantly affects women. A person with HSDD will typically not respond to sexual stimulation or have sexual fantasies or thoughts. HSDD is a lot more prevalent than people know. It’s one of the most common conditions that affect women today.

In a 2008 study on the prevalence of HSDD in the United States, researchers found that 26.7% of premenopausal women had experienced HSDD. Also, 52.4% of naturally menopausal women and 12.5% of surgically menopausal women had experienced HSDD.

Symptoms of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

Symptoms of HSDD are what set it apart from simply experiencing low libido. If you suspect that you or someone you love has this condition, these are the symptoms to look out for: 

  • A loss of interest in sex and sexual activities 
  • Being unresponsive to sexual stimulation, either visual or physical 
  • Feeling significantly distressed about your loss of interest in sexual activity 
  • Experiencing symptoms of a loss of desire in sex for at least six months 
  • Not experiencing spontaneous desire

Diagnosing Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

For a diagnosis of HSDD to be made, other forms of sexual desire disorder have to be ruled out. Any medications or medical conditions that could be responsible for your diminished interest in sex also have to be ruled out. 

Symptoms of HSDD must have been present and persistent for 6 months for a diagnosis to be made. The symptoms should also be severe enough to cause distress. 

HSDD is sometimes confused with having a low libido, but these are two different things. Simply experiencing reduced sexual desire doesn’t mean that you have HSDD. When attempting to diagnose HSDD, your doctor might ask you a series of questions. These questions are called  Decreased Sexual Desire Screener (DSDS). Some of these questions include: 

  • Has your sexual desire been satisfactory in the past?
  • Would you like to increase your sexual desire levels? 
  • Does your lack of sexual interest bother you? 
  • Are you experiencing a decrease in sexual interest and desire? 

If you’ve been experiencing a low libido but answer "no" to these questions then you most likely don’t have HSDD. 

The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) is another tool used for diagnosing HSDD. It’s a 19-point questionnaire about a person’s sex life. The higher your score is, the better your sexual function typically is.

Causes of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

No one completely understands what exactly is responsible for HSDD. Sexual desire is complicated, and throughout your life, your desire for sex will ebb and flow. However, some of the most common culprits that have been identified over the years include:

  • Menopause: Menopause causes fluctuation in your reproductive hormones. These hormones are responsible for your sexual desire, and when they are out of whack, this could cause a dip in your sexual desire. 
  • Stress: Being stressed negatively affects all areas of your life include your sexual drive. 
  • Anxiety: People with anxiety or anxiety disorders sometimes experience sexual dysfunction like HSDD.
  • Sexual abuse: People who have been sexually abused tend to struggle with being sexually active and, in some instances, develop sexual disorders.
  • Hormonal imbalance: You might experience low sexual drive when your hormones are imbalanced.
  • Certain medications: Medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and some oral contraceptives could cause HSDD.
  • Other underlying medical conditions: Conditions such as diabetes, depression, and heart disease could cause HSDD.

Treatment for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder 

HSDD can be a frustrating and distressing condition. The good news is that it can be treated. A combination of medication and psychotherapy is often recommended for the treatment of this condition.

In finding the best treatment for you, your doctor will need to examine your unique circumstances and the severity of your condition. Your doctor will look into any factors that might be causing your disorder and seek to address that.

There’s no single treatment for HSDD. This is because it’s typically caused by a combination of psychological, social, and biological circumstances. 

Medication 

There are several medications prescribed for the treatment of HSDD today. Some of the most common include: 

  • Addyi: In 2015, the FDA approved Addyi, also known as flibanserin, specifically for treating hypoactive sexual desire disorder. 
  • Buspirone: This is a drug formulated for the treatment of anxiety disorders. It’s also prescribed off-label for the treatment of HSDD.
  • Bupropion: Bupropion is an anti-depressant that can also be used for the treatment of HSDD. 
  • Testosterone: Testosterone is also sometimes prescribed for perimenopausal and menopausal women. Testosterone works by balancing the reproductive hormones in your body which typically control your sexual desire. 
  • Vyleesi: Vyleesi is another medication specifically formulated for the treatment of HSDD in premenopausal women. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019.

Psychotherapy 

The aim of psychotherapy is to treat the underlying cause of your diminished sexual desire. Sex therapy is the most common form of psychotherapy used for treating HSDD.  

How to Cope With Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

If you suspect you have hypoactive sexual desire disorder, speaking to your healthcare provider is the first step. You’ll most likely be referred to a sexual health expert or gynecologist who will recommend a combination of medication and psychotherapy as treatment.

You can also practice some coping strategies to help speed up your recovery:

  • Cutting out stressors from your life. Stress could not only cause but aggravate symptoms of HSDD. No treatment can help you with stress, but you can reduce your stress levels by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating right. 
  • Talk with a friend or partner. Speaking to people who are willing to listen and understand what you are going through can be helpful.
  • Explore your sexuality. Try watching porn and masturbating with your hands or sex toys until you figure out what feels good. 
  • Cut out bad habits like smoking and drinking. Living an all-around healthier life will make you feel better. 

A Word From Verywell

More people than you might think experience HSDD. If you’ve been living with it, it’s important to know that it’s not your fault and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Seeking the appropriate treatment and finding coping mechanisms that work for you will have your sex life back on track in no time. 

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8 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.
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