Here’s an issue women don’t often feel comfortable talking about, low libido. But they should, because it’s a lot more common than you might think. And we’re not just talking about a short dry spell after childbirth, which many moms experience, we’re talking about something that goes deeper, and can last much longer.  

This underreported sexual concern can take a toll on a woman’s romantic relationships and her self image. Despite how common it is, the condition, known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), can be difficult to resolve as it is a complex problem with a number of possible underlying causes.  Talking about it is a good first step, so read on to learn more.

What Is HSDD?

HSDD is a chronic and ongoing lack of interest in sex by women who previously had a normal sex drive, to the point where it causes personal distress or problems in their relationships. A woman’s libido will naturally ebb and flow throughout her lifetime, and it is not uncommon to lose interest in sex for periods of time. What characterizes HSDD is when the lack of desire is persistent, and it causes you stress and interpersonal difficulties as a result. If you aren’t concerned by your low sex drive, then you probably don’t have HSDD.  

You’re Not Alone

If, however, your low (or non-existent) sex drive is causing issues for you and your relationship…know that you are not alone. According to the Society for Women’s Health Research, HSDD is the most common female sexual dysfunction and affects about 1 in 10 women. And we are not just talking about postmenopausal women, HSDD affects women of all ages, from their 20s on up. The Mayo Clinic reports that as many as 40% of women will experience HSDD at some point in their lives.

Symptoms Of HSDD

The symptoms of HSDD revolve around a decrease in sexual desire. Women with HSDD are not only “not in the mood” for sex, they also frequently don’t think about sex, fantasize about sex, or want to initiate sex. In addition, they experience distress due to this lack of sexual thoughts or desires and it puts a strain on their relationship with their partner. 70% of women with low sexual desire experience personal and interpersonal issues as a result, according to research published in the Journal of Sexual Desire.  Women with HSDD will describe their emotional state using terms like, “frustrated”, “missing something”, or “disconnected”.  If low desire has an impact on your overall emotional well-being, HSDD may be the culprit.

Causes & Treatments

Sexual desire is a complex interplay of social, psychological, and biological components. As such, the underlying causes of HSDD are complex and range from physical conditions (such as hormonal imbalances or illness), to psychological and emotional factors. Due to the large number of potential causes and contributing factors, there is no one HSDD cure-all that works for all women. This is why it is crucial to approach your healthcare practitioner to discuss your concerns. There is no need to suffer in silence!

Your doctor can conduct an in-depth interview to understand the unique conditions surrounding your sexual desire and experience. They can also test you for underlying medical conditions to help devise the best course of treatment for you.

Treatment may consist of hormone therapies, use of a drug like Addyi (flibanserin), herbal supplements, counseling, sex therapy, or a combination of these. Chances are there is a treatment out there that can help. You may also want to include your partner in the discussions and treatment decisions, as open communication and intimacy can be an integral part of sexual desire.  

Sexual satisfaction shouldn’t have to be a taboo topic for women. If you are experiencing low libido, and it’s impacting your relationships or self esteem, talk to your doctor and partner. Let’s bring these issues out of the shadows, because every woman that wants to, should be able to experience the pleasure and intimacy of a satisfying sex life.

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Have you experienced periods of low sexual desire?  Share your thoughts and comments in our Relationships Community.