Women’s sexual desire varies naturally over the years. The ups and downs usually coincide with the beginning or end of relationships or with major life changes, such as pregnancy, menopause, or illness. Some medications used to treat mood disorders can also cause decreased sexual desire in women.
If your lack of interest in sex continues or comes back and causes you distress, you may have a condition called “hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
However, you don’t have to meet this medical definition to seek help. If it bothers you to have little or no sexual desire, there are lifestyle changes and sexual techniques that can make you feel better more often. Some medications can also give you good prospects.
If you want to have sex less often than your partner, neither is necessarily out of the ordinary for people at that stage of life, although that difference can be distressing.
Likewise, even if your sexual desire is less than it used to be, your relationship may be stronger than ever. In short: There is no magic number to define low sexual desire. It varies from woman to woman.
Symptoms of low sexual desire in women include the following:
- Lack of interest in any type of sexual activity, including masturbation
- Never or almost never have sexual fantasies or thoughts
- Concern about lack of sexual activity or fantasies
When to see a doctor
If you are concerned about lack of sexual desire, talk to your doctor. The solution could be as simple as changing a medication you’re taking and improving any chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Sexual desire is based on a complex interaction of many factors that affect intimacy, such as physical and emotional well-being, previous experiences, beliefs, lifestyle, and current relationship. If you have problems in any of these areas, your sexual desire may be affected.
A wide variety of diseases, physical changes, and medications can cause decreased sexual desire, including the following:
- Sexual problems. Pain during sex or lack of orgasms can decrease sexual desire.
Illness. Many non-sexual diseases can affect sexual desire, such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and neurological diseases.
- Medications. Certain prescription medications, especially antidepressants called “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” decrease sexual desire.
- Lifestyle. A glass of wine may make you feel passionate, but drinking too much alcohol can affect your sexual desire. The same goes for illegal drugs. In addition, smoking decreases blood flow, which can decrease arousal.
- Surgery-Breast or genital surgery can affect body image, sexual function, and sexual desire.
- Fatigue. Fatigue from caring for aging children or family members can contribute to decreased sexual desire. Fatigue from disease or surgery is also a factor in decreased sexual desire.
- Hormonal changes. Changes in hormone levels can change sexual desire. This can happen during:
- Menopause. Estrogen levels drop during the transition to menopause. This can make you less interested in sex and cause vaginal tissues to dry out, making sex painful or uncomfortable. Although many women continue to have satisfying sex during and after menopause, some women’s libido is reduced during this hormonal change.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, immediately after having a baby, and during breastfeeding can decrease sexual desire. Fatigue, changes in body image, and the pressure of becoming pregnant or caring for a new baby can also contribute to a change in sexual desire.
Your mood can affect sexual desire. There are many psychological causes of decreased sexual desire, including the following:
- Mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety
- Stress, such as financial or job stress
- Low self-esteem of body image
- Low self-esteem
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Negative past sexual experiences
- Relationship problems
- For many women, emotional closeness is the prelude to sexual intimacy. So, marital problems can be an important factor in decreasing sexual desire.