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.

Counseling

Talking with a sex therapist or counselor skilled in addressing sexual concerns can help with low sexual desire. Therapy often includes education about sexual response and techniques and recommendations for reading materials or couples' exercises. Couples counseling that addresses relationship issues may also help increase feelings of intimacy and desire.

Medication review

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) may lower sex drive. Adding or switching to bupropion (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin) — a different type of antidepressant — usually improves sex drive.

Hormone therapy

Estrogen delivered throughout your whole body (systemic) by pill, patch, spray or gel can have a positive effect on brain function and mood factors that affect sexual response. But systemic estrogen therapy may have risks for certain women.

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.

Flibanserin (Addyi)

Originally developed as an antidepressant, Flibanserin (Addyi) is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for low sexual desire in premenopausal women.

A daily pill, Addyi may boost sex drive in women who experience low sexual desire and who find the experience distressing. Potentially serious side effects include low blood pressure, dizziness and fainting, particularly if the drug is mixed with alcohol. Experts recommend that you stop taking the drug if you don't notice an improvement in your sex drive after eight weeks.

Aug. 28, 2015