Women's levels of sexual desire change over the years. It's common for highs and lows to happen along with the start or end of a relationship. Or they can happen with major life changes such as pregnancy, menopause or illness. Some medicines used for conditions that affect mood also can cause low sex drive in women.

If your lack of interest in sex continues or returns and causes personal distress, talk with your healthcare professional. You may have a treatable condition called sexual interest-arousal disorder.

But you don't have to meet this medical definition to seek help. If you're bothered by a low or reduced sex drive, you can take steps to boost your libido. Lifestyle changes and sexual techniques may put you in the mood more often. Some medicines may offer promise as well.


neither of you may have a sex drive that's outside what's typical for people at your stage in life.

And even if your sex drive is lower than it once was, your relationship may be strong. Bottom line: There is no magic number to define low sex drive. It varies.

Symptoms of low sex drive in women include:

  • Having less or no interest in any type of sexual activity, including masturbation.
  • Never or only seldom having sexual fantasies or thoughts.
  • Being sad or concerned about your lack of sexual activity or fantasies.

When to see a doctor

If you're concerned about your low desire for sex, talk to your gynecologist or other healthcare professional. The answer might be as simple as changing a medicine that you take. Or you may need to get a condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes under tighter control.

Women’s health topics - straight to your inbox

Get the latest information from our Mayo Clinic experts on women’s health topics, serious and complex conditions, wellness and more. Click to view a preview and subscribe below.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the email.


Desire for sex is based on a complex mix of many things that affect intimacy. These factors include:

  • Physical and emotional well-being.
  • Experiences.
  • Beliefs.
  • Lifestyle.
  • Your current relationship.

If you have challenges in any of these areas, it can affect your desire for sex.

Physical causes

A variety of illnesses, physical changes and medicines can cause low sex drive, including:

  • Sexual conditions. If you have pain during sex or can't orgasm, it can lower your desire for sex.
  • Diseases. Many nonsexual diseases can affect sex drive. These include cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and neurological diseases.
  • Medicines. Some prescription medicines lower sex drive — especially depression medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Lifestyle habits. A glass of wine may put you in the mood, but too much alcohol can affect your sex drive. The same is true of street drugs. Also, smoking decreases blood flow, which may dull arousal.
  • Surgery. Any surgery related to your breasts or genital tract can affect your body image, sexual function and desire for sex.
  • Fatigue. Exhaustion from caring for young children or aging parents can contribute to low sex drive. Fatigue from illness or surgery also can play a role.

Hormone changes

Changes in your hormone levels may alter your desire for sex. This can occur during:

  • Menopause. Estrogen levels drop during menopause. This can make you less interested in sex and cause vaginal dryness, leading to painful or uncomfortable sex. Many women still have satisfying sex during menopause and beyond. But some have a lagging libido during this hormone change.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hormone changes during pregnancy, just after having a baby and during breastfeeding can put a damper on sex drive. Fatigue and changes in body image can affect your sexual desire. So can the pressures of pregnancy or caring for a new baby.

Psychological causes

Your state of mind can affect your sexual desire. Psychological causes of low sex drive include:

  • Mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
  • Stress tied to things such as finances, relationships or work.
  • Poor body image.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • History of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
  • Past negative sexual experiences.

Relationship issues

For many people, emotional closeness is a key to sexual intimacy. So problems in your relationship can be a major factor in low sex drive. Often, less interest in sex is a result of ongoing issues such as:

  • Lack of connection with your partner.
  • Unresolved conflicts or fights.
  • Poor communication of sexual needs and desires.
  • Trust issues.
  • Concern over your partner's ability to have sex.
  • Not enough privacy.

Risk factors

Factors that can raise the risk of low sex drive include:

  • Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Pain during sex or not being able orgasm.
  • Mental health conditions and life circumstances that affect your state of mind.
  • Various prescription medicines, including depression medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
  • Surgeries related to the breasts or genital tract.
  • Changes in hormone levels during menopause, pregnancy or breastfeeding.
  • Relationship issues that lessen emotional closeness with your partner.

March 07, 2024
  1. FAQs: Your sexual health. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/your-sexual-health. Accessed Sept. 20, 2023.
  2. Shifren JL. Overview of sexual dysfunction in females: Epidemiology, risk factors, and evaluation. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 20, 2023.
  3. Loscalzo J, et al., eds. Sexual dysfunction. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 21st ed. McGraw Hill; 2022. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Sept. 20, 2023.
  4. Hoffman BL, et al. Psychosocial issues and female sexuality. In: Williams Gynecology. 4th ed. McGraw Hill; 2020. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Sept. 20, 2023.
  5. AskMayoExpert. Sexual dysfunction in women. Mayo Clinic; 2023.
  6. Shifren JL. Overview of sexual dysfunction in females: Management. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 20, 2023.
  7. Addyi (drug label information). Sprout Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; 2021. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=3819daf3-e935-2c53-c527-e1d57922f394. Accessed Sept. 26, 2022.
  8. Hirsch M, et al. Sexual dysfunction caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Management. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 20, 2023.
  9. Vyleesi (prescribing information). Palatin Technologies; 2021. https://vyleesipro.com. Accessed Sept. 20, 2023.
  10. AskMayoExpert. Genitourinary syndrome of menopause: Hormonal treatments. Mayo Clinic; 2023.
  11. Marnach ML (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Sept. 29, 2023.
  12. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin No. 213: Female sexual dysfunction. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2019; doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003324.
  13. Adipe T. Role of partner support in psychosexual aspects of vulvar dermatoses. Obstetrics and Gynecology Science. 2021; doi:10.5468/ogs.21180.
  14. Menopausal hormone therapy and cancer risk. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/medical-treatments/menopausal-hormone-replacement-therapy-and-cancer-risk.html. Accessed Oct. 2, 2023.


Associated Procedures

Products & Services