No matter your age, feeling a noticeable difference in libido levels can be alarming, especially when that feeling is a drop. However, it’s very common for the sexual desires of women to fluctuate greatly over the course of their life. There are many reasons for libido decrease in women including major physical life events such as pregnancy or menopause or due to other completely normal reasons.
But, it’s important to note that there is no “correct” libido level. Every individual woman is different. What’s normal for you may vary greatly from someone else. However, if libido decrease becomes a continuous or recurring issue that interferes with your life and relationships, you may want to consider seeing your doctor, especially if you are concerned with:
- Your overall disinterest in any type of sexual activity
- Lack of sexual thoughts and desire
- General worry about a lack of sexual activity or sexual thoughts.
A condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) may be diagnosed. But even if you don’t meet the exact definition of HSDD, there are plenty of factors that can play into libido decrease and, fortunately, there are treatment options and lifestyle changes to help improve your situation.
1. Birth Control
Birth control affects your body’s hormone production levels, and over time the same medication may affect your sex drive. Although it is not completely clear that hormonal methods of birth control negatively impact libido, if you feel that the type of birth control you’re using may be negatively affecting your libido, talk to your doctor about an alternative medication or birth control option to see if this may help improve the situation.
2. Menstrual Cycles, Pregnancy, or Menopause
Sometimes a change in libido is simply due to a major change in the body. You may notice your libido fluctuates in line with your menstrual cycles. Additionally, changes to the body that affect hormone levels in a big way can consequently cause a dip in libido. Particularly pregnancy and menopause.
During pregnancy, hormone changes in the body can affect your libido. Even after having the baby and during breast-feeding, it’s normal to feel your sex drive take a hit. Whether it’s from fatigue, body image issues, or the simple fact that having a child completely changes the demands of normal daily life, all of these factors along with the new responsibilities of parenthood can reduce libido.
During the body’s transition to menopause, your estrogen levels will drop. In turn, your interest in sex may also see a significant drop. Especially given that menopause can cause physical issues like vaginal dryness, which can lead to pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse. Menopause doesn’t mean your libido levels or sexual satisfaction will stay low. There are plenty of treatment options to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, satisfying sex life during menopause and beyond. Just be aware that if you are going through menopause, a lag in libido is not only common, but very likely.
If you’re currently going through either pregnancy or menopause, it’s important to maintain communication with your doctor. There may be treatment options specific to what you’re experiencing to improve your libido.
3. Relationship Problems
Frequently, the quality of a relationship along with the emotional connection (or lack thereof) with a partner can be a strong factor that negatively impacts a woman’s libido. Any tension in the relationship can interfere with emotional closeness and connection, which in turn can directly affect libido levels.
Any resentment or unresolved issues in the relationship, past or current infidelities and trust issues, or a clear lack of sexual communication can directly lead to a decreased interest in sex in the relationship.
4. Mental Health Conditions and Medication
Mental health conditions can greatly affect your libido levels. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, one of the symptoms you may experience includes a lack of sexual desire. Additionally, many medications associated with treating anxiety and depression often have side effects that directly reduce your libido.
Other mental health conditions that may contribute to anxiety and depression while negatively effecting libido may include:
- Past abuse or negative sexual experiences
- Distorted body image
- Low self-esteem
Your anxiety levels do not have to be debilitating or medically diagnosed to affect various aspects of your life. Periods of high stress or simply being over-worked can be a leading factor in reducing your libido levels. Careers can be demanding on their own. Add in the pressure of maintaining a social life and romantic pursuits, and suddenly experiencing an overall burnout doesn’t sound so outlandish.
Too much personal stress can take its toll on your mental health and capacity as well as your physical energy levels. Your adrenal glands may be working overtime to compensate, and in turn your sex drive can lose some of its luster. Too much stress can also lead to other physical and mental health issues if not managed properly.
6. Painful Intercourse
Another common cause of libido decrease, especially after menopause, is painful intercourse. When you experience pain from an activity, the brain will develop an aversion to that behavior that causes the pain. So, if sex is frequently painful, it is normal to expect a decrease in desire for sex since it is an unpleasant experience. If you experience painful sex, it is important to see your doctor to identify the cause of this pain, so that it can be treated. If the pain continues untreated, serious sexual aversions can develop that may become very difficult to treat.
7. Other Underlying Health Conditions
Finally, if you have another known health condition that affects you on a daily basis, it may also affect your libido levels. Conditions like diabetes, anemia, arthritis, hypothyroidism, or any cardiovascular problems can all be contributors. Any medications you may be taking for your medical conditions can also affect libido.
Also, if you are not suffering from a known condition that may be affecting your libido, it’s a good idea to get a full exam to be sure there are no underlying health conditions that may be present and that should be treated.
Treating Low Libido
Frequently, identifying the factors or issues that are causing your low libido are the most difficult aspect of coming up with a treatment plan. Typically, there are two routes to go in treating low libido. The first is non-pharmaceutical. It involves general stress reduction techniques and general lifestyle shifts. It may include a diet change, alcohol and tobacco reduction (if applicable), and implementing a regular exercise regimen. Additionally, in the case of underlying mental health or relationship issues, individual or couples counseling and therapy may be the best course of action to effectively treat what’s causing your low libido.
If the cause of low libido is found to be physical, there are a few courses of action to take. Treatment might simply be a case of altering any current medications. Your hormone levels can be adjusted using an estrogen patch or pills as well as testosterone cream. There is also a new medication, Addyi, that effectively treats Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (low libido) in many women when none of the other causes are present.
Regardless, it’s impossible to know what treatment plan will be right for you until you reach out to a medical professional for help. If your low libido is negatively affecting and disrupting your life, make an appointment today.