A woman's desire for sex is based on a complex interaction of many components affecting intimacy, including physical well-being, emotional well-being, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle and current relationship. If you're experiencing a problem in any of these areas, it can affect your sexual desire.
A wide range of illnesses, physical changes and medications can cause a low sex drive, including:
- Sexual problems. If you experience pain during sex or an inability to orgasm, it can hamper your desire for sex.
- Medical diseases. Numerous nonsexual diseases can also affect desire for sex, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and neurological diseases.
- Medications. Many prescription medications — including some antidepressants and anti-seizure medications — are notorious libido killers.
- Alcohol and drugs. A glass of wine may make you feel amorous, but too much alcohol can spoil your sex drive; the same is true of street drugs.
- Surgery. Any surgery related to your breasts or your genital tract can affect your body image, sexual function and desire for sex.
- Fatigue. The exhaustion of caring for aging parents or young children can contribute to low sex drive.
Changes in your hormone levels may alter your desire for sex. This can occur during:
- Menopause. Estrogen levels drop during the transition to menopause. This can cause decreased interest in sex and dryer vaginal tissues, resulting in painful or uncomfortable sex. At the same time, women may also experience a decrease in the hormone testosterone, which boosts sex drive in men and women alike. Although many women continue to have satisfying sex during menopause and beyond, some women experience a lagging libido during this hormonal change.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding. Hormone changes during pregnancy, just after having a baby and during breast-feeding can put a damper on sex drive. Of course, hormones aren't the only factor affecting intimacy during these times. Fatigue, changes in body image and the pressures of carrying — or caring for — a new baby can all contribute to changes in your sexual desire.
Your problems don't have to be physical or biological to be real. There are many psychological causes of low sex drive, including:
- Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Stress, such as financial stress or work stress
- Poor body image
- Low self-esteem
- History of physical or sexual abuse
For many women, emotional closeness is an essential prelude to sexual intimacy. So problems in your relationship can be a major factor in low sex drive. Decreased interest in sex is often a result of ongoing issues, such as:
Jan. 20, 2012
- Lack of connection with your partner
- Unresolved conflicts or fights
- Poor communication of sexual needs and preferences
- Infidelity or breach of trust
- Shifren JL. Sexual dysfunction in women: Epidemiology, risk factors, and evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- Lenz G. Emotional aspects of gynecology: Sexual function and dysfunction. In: Katz VL, et al. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1524/0.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- Giustozzi AA. Sexual dysfunction in women. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- Clayton AH, et al. Female sexual dysfunction. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2010;33:323.
- Biggs WS. Medical human sexuality: Female sexual dysfunction. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-4/0/1481/0.html#. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- Shifren JL. Sexual dysfunction in women: Management. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- Bhasin S, et al. Management of low desire and arousal in women. In: Kronenberg HM, et al. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-3/0/1555/0.html#. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.