Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most women benefit from a treatment approach aimed at the many causes behind this condition. Recommendations may include sex education, counseling and sometimes medication.

Medications

Your doctor will want to evaluate the medications you're already taking, to see if any of them tend to cause sexual side effects. For example, antidepressants such as paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) and fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) often lower sex drive. Switching to bupropion (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin) — a different variety of antidepressant — usually improves sex drive.

Counseling

Talking with a sex therapist or counselor skilled in addressing sexual concerns can help with low sex drive. Therapy often includes education about sexual response and techniques and recommendations for reading materials or couples' exercises.

Hormone therapy

Estrogen delivered throughout your whole body — by pill, patch or gel — can have a positive effect on brain function and mood factors that affect sexual response. But this systemic estrogen therapy may increase your risk of heart disease and breast cancer.

Smaller doses of estrogen — in the form of a vaginal cream or a slow-releasing suppository or ring that you place in your vagina — can increase blood flow to the vagina and help improve desire without the risks associated with systemic estrogen. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a combination of estrogen and progesterone.

Male hormones, such as testosterone, play an important role in female sexual function, even though testosterone occurs in much lower amounts in women. However, replacing testosterone in women is controversial and it's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sexual dysfunction in women. Plus, it can cause acne, excess body hair, and mood or personality changes.

Jan. 20, 2012