Most women benefit from a treatment approach aimed at the many causes behind this condition. Recommendations may include sex education, counseling and sometimes medication.
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. Couples counseling that addresses relationship issues may also help increase feelings of intimacy and desire.
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. Switching to bupropion (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin) — a different type of antidepressant — usually improves sex drive.
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.
Dec. 17, 2014
- Frequently asked questions. Women's health FAQ072. Your sexual health. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Your-Sexual-Health. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.
- Shifren JL. Sexual dysfunction in women: Epidemiology, risk factors, and evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.
- Hoffman BL, et al. Williams Gynecology. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookId=399. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.
- McAninch JW, et al., eds. Smith & Tanagho's General Urology. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://accesssurgery.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookID=508. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.
- Shifren JL. Sexual dysfunction in women: Management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.
- Buster JE. Managing female sexual dysfunction. Fertility and Sterility, 2013; 100:905.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.