Low Female Libido: Its Causes and Treatments

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Identifying Low Libido

Low libido, or decreased sexual desire, in a woman can affect her sense of well-being or her relationship with her partner. Desire naturally fluctuates throughout life, depending on factors such as hormone levels, the quality of personal relationships, and everyday stressors. Medically defined as persistent or recurrent lack of interest in sex that causes personal distress, no firm threshold exists to indicate what exactly is low desire in any individual. Low libido becomes a problem whenever it bothers the individual woman and her partner.

Physical Causes

Physical causes of low libido in women include sexual disorders and medical conditions. Inability to reach an orgasm or pain during intercourse damper a woman’s desire. Conditions unrelated to intercourse or genitalia may also affect desire. For example, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and coronary artery disease may all cause low libido. Medications, particularly antidepressants and those used for high blood pressure, also may reduce sexual desire. Other physical causes of low female libido include surgery to the genitourinary tract or breasts and excessive alcohol and drug use.

Hormonal Changes

Women undergo several periods of their lives during which their hormonal levels fluctuate significantly. Drops in estrogen levels following childbirth and during perimenopause decrease sexual desire. Additionally, the lack of estrogen causes vaginal tissues to dry, resulting in painful intercourse. All women produce low levels of the male hormone testosterone, which directly influences sexual desire and arousal. During menopause, testosterone production declines along with estrogen production. Low testosterone levels are rarely the sole cause of low female libido.

Emotional Causes

Sexuality in women depends largely on emotional factors, such as the quality of intimate relationships, general sense of well-being, and stress. Any type of relationship problems, such as emotional distance, poor communication, or infidelity, may severely diminish sexual desire. Emotional closeness is an integral part of intimacy for many women. Mental health issues such as low self-esteem or poor body image, as well as psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety, are major factors in reducing a woman’s sexual desire.

Lifestyle Changes

Many factors together often contribute to low female libido, so a multitargeted approach is most effective. Since relationship and emotional factors play such a significant role in sexuality, focusing on improving these areas of a woman’s life have a major impact in improving sexual desire. Regular exercise improves a woman’s sense of general well-being and tones her body, improving her self-image. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles with floor exercises helps a woman focus on the muscles that contribute to pleasurable sensations. Stress reduction techniques help a woman to relax. Counseling with a trained sex therapist or a counselor specializing in intimacy problems may help a couple improve their communication, particularly about sexual preferences. Setting aside time for intimacy prioritizes intimacy and ensures outside distractions will not intrude on the couple.

Medical Treatments

Medical treatments often are unnecessary for low female libido. In cases where an underlying medical condition contributes to a woman’s sexual difficulties, the condition should be treated or medications adjusted. Estrogen replacement therapy may be useful in restoring vaginal lubrication, elevate mood, and enhance desire. Testosterone replacement for women is not recommended and is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for increasing libido in women. Testosterone is associated with side effects such as mood or personality changes, acne, and excessive hair growth.

References

MayoClinic.com: Low Sex Drive in Women https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/low-sex-drive-in-women/DS01043

OBGyn.net: Decreased Libido (Sexual Desire) https://www.obgyn.net/displayarticle.asp?page=/women/articles/libido_dah

Women to Women: Your Sex Drive Before, During, and After Menopause https://www.womentowomen.com/sexualityandfertility/menopause-sexdrive-libido.aspx