Now this is a topic that I am sure each of you have discussed, with a friend, boyfriend or husband. Thing is, are we always honest about our sex drive? I mean, we all know it will never be perfect and it will go through its ups and downs. But do we really want to be truthful about the frequency of which we have sex, how much we really enjoy it, if you and/or your partner are satisfied with the quality and quantity of sex. Probably not. Well especially when things are not good. But what is good? There is no “criteria” or definition of what is a consistent and healthy sex life in your relationship. At the end of the day, if you and your partner are satisfied with your sex life, there is no reason to worry about the frequency. What is concerning though is if YOU feel bothered about your sex life or sex drive, that is causes distress for YOU. Then you should be asking yourself how to increase libido.
One thing is for sure, libido for women is it more complex than men. For women, sex drive or libido is a combination of physiological and psychological factors. Your hormones can be well-balanced with no underlying health issues, but if the levels of stress, depression or anxiety are high, this may overtake your sexual desire. I mean you can be very angry with your partner temporarily or be anxious about an interview, and you may still have a high sexual desire (AKA you are “horny”) but just do not want to have sex. That is normal and temporary – and the good thing here is that you ARE horny and you have the sexual desire you are just not acting on it.
What makes this more serious or stressful is when you have no sexual desire, no fantasies and no need for sex at all, despite being in a healthy and happy relationship. Also, when you and your spouse have a mismatched libido level, this can be very overwhelming.
- 1 Symptoms Of Low Libido
- 2 Physiological Factos Affecting Libido – AKA Hormones!
- 3 Psychological And Other Factors Affecting Libido
- 4 Can You Treat Low Libido?
- 5 Effects Not To Be Under Estimated
Symptoms Of Low Libido
Symptoms of having a low sex drive may include:
- Having no interest in any type of sexual activity, including masturbation
- Never or only seldom having sexual fantasies or thoughts
- Being concerned by your lack of sexual activity or fantasies
- Disinterest in initiating sex
- Difficulty getting pleasure from sex
- Lack of pleasurable sensations when the genitals are stimulated
There is no actual test for a diagnosis, but doctors should be asking many questions to determine if enough of these factors exist to say that you may have Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).
==> You can take this quiz, to determine what is the level of your sexual and pelvic health. This has been designed by Dr. Anna Cabeca, who has an amplidute of personal experience and expertise to back her up.
Physiological Factos Affecting Libido – AKA Hormones!
The 3 main hormones affecting a women’s libido are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Yes, testosterone is considered the “male” hormone, but it does also exist in females in a lower amount, and is involved in sexual drive. Testosterone is also involved in hair loss in women.
With the menstrual cycle taking place every month, on average every 28 to 35 days, women will typically have higher libido closer towards ovulation (day 14) when their estrogen levels are highest and the body is ready to conceive. For more details about the hormonal menstrual cycle, click here.
Birth Controls Measures
Birth control can be taken for different underlying reasons other than as a contraceptive. This is because birth control pills regulate hormone levels, especially for women who have irregular or unpredictable cycles.
In these instances, birth control can help mood and depression, acne, PCOS and help with weight gain to name a few.
There is no general common effect as there are so many oral contraceptives and each person will react differently. Birth control can increase sexual drive or decrease it.
Pregnancy can have the physiological and psychological factors affecting sexual desire.
On the biological side, while pregnant, women’s levels of estrogen and progesterone are the highest, and typically increase libido.
On the flip side, exhaustion, nausea, physical image, insecurities, fear to hurt pregnancy can all work against the increased libido.
This is when libido can be the lowest for women and it is extremely normal and there is nothing to be concerned about.
While nursing, estrogen levels are the lowest while levels of prolactin are very high. Many women report not only having no sex drive, but being completely non-orgasmic.
This gets better after the baby is weened off breastfeeding.
Perimenopause & Menopause & Age
The stages of perimenopause and menopause last many years, in fact on average, more than a decade to go through perimenopause-menopause-post menopause. Menopause can be a very hard time for women, because other than it causing a fluctuation of hormones over many years, it may cause depression, anxiety and irritability, a diagnosis known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMMD).
Due to the decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone, sexual desire and libido may decrease and vaginal dryness may also add to the decrease in desire.
DHEA levels also decrease with age, adding to the hormonal imbalance and inability to produce other sex hormones.
Once in post menopause, the low levels of hormones stabilize and some women find sexual pleasure again, by using vaginal creams to increase desire and/or feeling the freedom or relief of not having to worry about pregnancy.
Adrenal or Ovary Removal
This is an obvious cause of hormone deficiency and unless it is necessary, removal of these should be avoided.
This would cause a decrease of estrogen and DHEA, and would affect sex drive.
DHEA is a hormone produced by our adrenal glands and is required to produce other sex hormones within the body, for both male and females.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS can cause irregular periods and ammenorhea (no periods at all). Many women with PCOS are obese as well, but being lean is also possible. However, in both cases, typically women with PSOS have high levels of insulin and are insulin resistant.
It is common for women who have PCOS to admit to having a sexual dysfunction and this can be a combination of both hormonal and psychological factors. PCOS leads to insecure about weight and self-image, excessive hair growth, acne and fertility issues. PCOS is also widely known to cause depression.
Psychological And Other Factors Affecting Libido
Some women experience pain while having sex. This may be with only certain positions or may be due to vaginal dryness. If using creams and/or trying different positions does not help, it is highly recommended seeing a doctor to rule out any internal issue that may be causing this discomfort.
Alcohol and smoking are two habits that can dull sexual drive. Also, a glass of wine may actually get you to feel “lose” and more sexually aroused, too much alcohol usually has the opposite effects.
This one is a huge one, especially for women. With the grueling lives we live today, it is normal to be exhausted at the end of the day, especially in relationships with children. By the time dinner is over and kids are in bed, it is very possible to have no energy for sexual intimacy.
Mental Health Problems
Depression, anxiety, paranoia, eating disorder all would affect hormone balance and sexual desire.
DHEA levels seem to be lower in people with depression.
Low Self Esteem and Poor Body Image
This can be a result of other health issues like PCOS, diabetes, obesity and during pregnancy.
History of Physical Or Sexual Abuse/Negative Sexual Experience
This would be very difficult to overcome and it would require proper treatment, most probably psychological therapy.
It would also be very important that the women is able to open up to her partner about her fears and insecurities and develop enough trust for her to want to try again and see what it is like to have a positive sexual experience.
After fatigue, relationship issues can be one of the most common reasons that women do not have the desire for intercourse. This is when the low levels of libido is largely due to psychological reasons because of a lack of emotions connection with your partner.
Can You Treat Low Libido?
It is only very recent that their are more treatment options for women that are safe, regulated and understood. Unless you are aware of a medication that you are taking that may be affecting your sex drive or you are going through an obvious period of hormonal fluctuation such as breastfeeding or menopause, try to see if any lifestyle change can help before going for medications.
Life Style Changes
1. Exercise can help decrease stress and anxiety and help with libido.
2. Trying vaginal creams to help with any discomfort.
3. Setting aside time for sex. This may sound bad, but we sometimes just get a routine with our busy lives and accept this as they are because we become “stuck” in a routine.
If you have children, this may mean getting help from family, to have alone time and/or regular date nights. If you do not have children but always feel exhausted at night, make it a point to be intimate with you partner after work or on the weekends before you feel tired.
4. Decrease smoking and/or alcohol.
5. Communicate with your partner if you are not having orgasms and need to experiment by trying different positions.
6. Other stress relieving techniques like yoga.
7. Last but not least believe it or not is EDUCATION. And I am not speaking for young adolescents only. For women of all ages, even in menopause. Some of us have maybe always thought we understood everything about our body and even though you had a libido at some point, you could have even had a higher sex drive and/or more intense or frequent orgasms.
There is no age to learn or expand your knowledge about your sexual anatomy, such as your G-spot and clitoral stimulation.
1. Estrogen therapy is one option and can be done in many ways such as using a cream, a suppository, or ring that releases estrogen in the vagina.
The positive aspect of these methods is that they rarely have any unwanted side effects that occur when taking an oral estrogen pill.
2. Flibanserin (Addyi), is a medication that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has been shown to boost sex drive in premenopausal women with low sexual desire.
This medication can be taken nightly, before going to bed.
A recent review conducted in 2018 concluded that:
“Flibanserin is a controversial drug approved for a controversial disorder amid huge controversy. While it may serve as the lamp in the light in the long search for female sexual problems, it has still a long way to go. Women taking this drug must well be educated about the adverse events associated with this drug and the possible interactions. Until further data are available, a cautious use of the drug is warranted.”(1)
3. Injection called bremelanotide (Vyleesi) which has also been FDA-approved, since very recently, in 2019. Therefore, more studies need to be conducted for its possible side effects.
This injection is must be given at least 45 minutes before being intimate and can last up to 16 hours,
Studies show that 40% of women feel nauseous after the injection, so some take it at night and have sex in the morning, before the medication is out of the system and they feel better because the nausea is gone.
According to Harvard Medical School:
Bremelanotide is approved for use only if a woman’s sexual desire has diminished. If a woman has always struggled with sexual desire this injection should not be considered.
4. Testosterone – this is NOT APPROVED and therefore I would not recommend it.
5. Vaginal DHEA to help with vaginal dryness. A prescription DHEA product is available to treat thinning of vaginal tissue.
Effects Not To Be Under Estimated
Do not put aside the discomfort or anxiety that having a low libido may be causing. Studies show that approximately 40% of women experience a low sex drive and over half of them are negatively affected by this.
Regardless what the underlying issue may be, there is no need to feel ashamed and although it may be uncomfortable to discuss with your partner and/or your doctor, not talking about it can have much worse long-term consequences on your personal life.
We need to be real here and admit that sex is a HUGE factor in relationships. It is not to say that couples that have sex less frequent than the average are not happy. In fact, some of these couples have the strongest relationships. It is all about what is enough for them, their communication about it and how much their libido and sexual expectations “match”.
But if your libido has decreased since being in your relationship or has always been low ad the topic has never been discussed or has become taboo, this can be causing damage to the future of your relationship.
Do not under estimate the distress that your low libido is causing you, whether or not you are in a stable or committed relationship or you are single. Finding a way to increase you libido and sexual desire, and decreasing the distress, can only result in YOU being happier, regardless if you are single or in a relationship.