Low sex drive in women
Low sex drive in women
A woman's sexual desires naturally fluctuate over the years. Highs and lows commonly coincide with the beginning or end of a relationship or with major life changes, such as pregnancy, menopause or illness. Some antidepressants and anti-seizure medications also can cause low sex drive in women.
If you have a persistent or recurrent lack of interest in sex that causes you personal distress, you may have hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
But you don't have to meet this medical definition to seek help. If you are bothered by a low sex drive or decreased sex drive, there are lifestyle changes and sex techniques that may put you in the mood more often. Some medications may offer promise as well.
If you want to have sex less often than your partner does, neither one of you is necessarily outside the norm for people at your stage in life — although your differences may cause distress. Similarly, even if your sex drive is weaker than it once was, your relationship may be stronger than ever. Bottom line: There is no magic number to define low sex drive. It varies from woman to woman.
When to see a doctor
A woman's desire for sex is based on a complex interaction of many components affecting intimacy, including physical well-being, emotional well-being, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle and current relationship. If you're experiencing a problem in any of these areas, it can affect your sexual desire.
Preparing for your appointment
Primary care doctors and gynecologists often ask about sex and intimacy as part of a routine medical visit. Take this opportunity to be candid about your sexual concerns. If your doctor doesn't broach the subject, bring it up. You may feel embarrassed to talk about sex with your doctor, but this topic is perfectly appropriate. In fact, your sexual satisfaction is a vital part of your overall health and well-being.
What you can do
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Questions your doctor may ask
Tests and diagnosis
By definition, you may be diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder if you frequently lack sexual thoughts or desire, and the absence of these feelings causes you personal distress. Whether you fit this medical diagnosis or not, your doctor can look for reasons that your sex drive isn't as high as you'd like and find ways to help.
In addition to asking you questions about your medical history, your doctor may also:
Treatments and drugs
Most women benefit from a treatment approach aimed at the many causes behind this condition. Recommendations may include sex education, counseling and sometimes medication.
Smaller doses of estrogen — in the form of a vaginal cream or a slow-releasing suppository or ring that you place in your vagina — can increase blood flow to the vagina and help improve desire without the risks associated with systemic estrogen. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a combination of estrogen and progesterone.
Male hormones, such as testosterone, play an important role in female sexual function, even though testosterone occurs in much lower amounts in women. However, replacing testosterone in women is controversial and it's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sexual dysfunction in women. Plus, it can cause acne, excess body hair, and mood or personality changes.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Healthy lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your desire for sex:
Coping and support
Low sex drive can be very difficult for you and your partner. It's natural to feel frustrated or sad if you aren't able to be as sexy and romantic as you want — or you used to be. At the same time, low sex drive can make your partner feel rejected, which can lead to conflicts and strife. And this type of relationship turmoil can further reduce desire for sex.
It may help to remember that fluctuations in your sex drive are a normal part of every relationship and every stage of life. Try not to focus all of your attention on sex. Instead, spend some time nurturing yourself and your relationship. Go for a long walk. Get a little extra sleep. Kiss your partner goodbye before you head out the door. Make a date night at your favorite restaurant. Feeling good about yourself and your partner can actually be the best foreplay.
Last Updated: 2012-01-20
© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
Terms and conditions of use