He ran your errands, made you laugh, turned on music you love, or the kids are away…but you still have no interest in sex. Sound familiar? For a large number of women, the answer is a disheartened yes. In fact, we see patients for this health concern every day. Sexual interest and function varies greatly among women, and even for the same woman throughout her lifetime, so there’s no defined normal standard.
Decreased libido (sometimes diagnosed as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder) is a problem when it is sustained or recurrent and you become distressed about it.
What causes decreased libido?
Your sexual desire is based on your lifestyle, your relationship, your physical health, your emotional health, and your religion or belief system. With all of these factors in the mix, there are numerous possible causes for a low sex drive.
- Lifestyle: A busy routine, a project that completely engages you, opposite schedules, and a lack of privacy can all contribute to decreased libido.
- Relationship: Since many women crave emotional closeness, problems like perceived lack of connection, distrust of partner, or any ongoing conflict can lower sexual desire.
- Physical Health: Sexual problems like vaginal dryness or pain during sex and medical conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, fatigue, and cancer can lower your sex drive. Some medications, including many antidepressants, are known to negatively affect libido. Hormonal changes can also make you less interested in sex.
- Emotional Health: Anxiety and depression can cause you to lose interest in sex. Low self-esteem, negative body image, and history of abuse can contribute to a low sex drive. Stress from work, family life, or finances can cause decreased libido too.
- Religion or Belief System: Beliefs you hold or beliefs you grew up with can cause confusion, shame, or guilt about sexuality.
How can I address my low sex drive?
With so many possible causes, it can be hard to know where to begin. Consider each of the factors above to figure out an idea of what might be going on.
- It’s worth your time to take a good look at your lifestyle. Are you too busy? Are you bored? You may be able to regain your sex drive by reducing stress, changing your routine, or making other lifestyle changes.
- It’s also worthwhile to evaluate your relationship. Do you feel good about your relationship with your partner? Putting energy into your relationship and communicating more openly with your partner can bring back your sexual desire.
- If you think a gynecological condition is contributing to your decreased libido, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can address vaginal dryness, pain during sex, pelvic pain, hormones, menopause, and postmenopausal symptoms. Depending on your situation, your doctor might prescribe vaginal dilators, physical therapy, or sex therapy.
- If you think another health condition or the medication you’re taking for it is affecting your sex drive, make an appointment with the doctor who sees you for that condition. Your doctor can help you understand and work through any possible connections and may change your medications.
- If you think your emotional health is contributing to your decreased libido, make an appointment with a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a sex therapist. Mental and emotional health professionals can help you resolve concerns about your relationship, your religion or belief system, and your lifestyle that may contribute to a low sex drive. If you’re not sure who to see, your doctor can make recommendations.
Decreased libido can be distressing for both you and your partner, and it’s natural to feel sad or discouraged when you have a low sex drive over a period of time. Remember to be gentle with yourself. Keep in mind that this is a common health concern and that sex drive fluctuations are a normal part of every relationship and every life stage. By narrowing in on the cause, you can take the right steps to get you feeling in the mood again.
From the Doctors at Women’s Health Associates:
Leah Ridgway, MD
Evelina Swartzman, MD
Ana Martinez, MD
Reagan Wittek, MD
Amy Giedt, MD
Kimberly Matthews, MD