Low Libido in Women: 4 Causes of Low Sex Drive & How To Treat It

Low libido can be a frustrating issue for women. Our guide will cover the main causes and offer treatment options that may help increase sex drive.

Dr. Blen Tesfu
By The Promescent Team Medically reviewed by Dr. Blen Tesfu Last updated 12/11/2023
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While a man's sex drive is stable to some degree, a woman's libido ebbs and flows throughout their life. There's no right or normal level of sex drive.

For some women, a low sex drive is frustrating, isolating, and can negatively impact a relationship.

Quick FAQs

Low libido can be caused by physical issues such as illnesses, psychological issues such as depression, and hormonal changes.

Common symptoms of low libido in females include having no desire for sexual activity and rarely having thoughts or fantasies about sex.

Treatment for low libido can include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

According to one study, up to 50% of women struggle with female sexual dysfunction (FSD), which includes low libido or hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). And the causes can range from physical to psychological.

Let's look at the causes of low libido in women and how to address a low sex drive.

Causes of Low Libido in Women

If low libido is causing you distress, it requires attention. Most of the time, that includes trying to find the source of the lack of libido.

When we asked Dr. Blen Tesfu of Welzo about the causes, she stated, “Low libido in women can be caused by various factors that often intertwine physical health, mental health, and lifestyle.”

She noted that physiological factors, medical conditions, specific medications, and psychological factors can all be possible reasons for low sex drive. Here are some of the top causes of low libido in women.

1. Physical Causes

A variety of illnesses, physical changes, and medications can lead to low libido.

  • Sexual issues: Pain during sex or the inability to orgasm
  • Illnesses: Nonsexual diseases including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and neurological disorders.
  • Infections: UTIs, vaginal yeast infections, the flu, etc.
  • Reproductive issues: Edonometres, PMS, and polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Medications: Doctor-prescribed drugs such as antidepressants (SSRIs)
  • Unhealthy habits: Excessive alcohol consumption and recreational drug use.
  • Cigarettes: Smoking decreases blood flow which leads to less sensation when having sex.
  • Surgery: Procedures done on the breasts or genitals may affect libido.
  • Tiredness: Fatigue from illnesses, personal stress, or work-related stress.

2. Psychological Causes

According to research, a woman's brain and body are connected even more than men's. The various psychological issues that can lead to a diminished libido include:

3. Relationship issues

For women especially, issues within a relationship can lead to a lower desire for sex. Some common issues couples struggle with include:

  • Communication
  • Money
  • Household chores
  • Trust

It's also normal for libido to lower during the course of a relationship. Finding new ways to experience intimacy together can help bring that spark back into the bedroom.

4. Hormonal changes

Any change in a woman's hormones can affect her sex drive.The most common reasons for a change in hormone levels include:

  • Menopause: Menopausal women can become less sensitive to touching and not as easily aroused. As a result, they lose interest in sex.
  • Pregnancy & breastfeeding: Pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause women to have vaginal dryness and a lack of sexual desire.

Oral contraceptive pills don’t generally cause a decrease in libido, despite hormonal changes. However, other birth control methods, such as contraceptive implants, may negatively impact sex drive.

Symptoms of low libido in females

Here are a few symptoms that Dr. Tesfu noted could be a sign of low libido in women:

  • Infrequent sexual thoughts or fantasies
  • No interest or diminished interest in sexual activity
  • Concern or distress over the lack of sexual interest
  • The absence of a medical condition that explains the lack of interest

    Treatment for low libido in females

    Women that struggle with low libido have options when it comes to treatments that increase sex drive. Some require consulting a physician, while others are simple changes to your lifestyle.

    As Dr. Tesfu explains, “The treatment for low libido in women depends on the underlying cause.” She further noted that some might also benefit from devices or aids meant for sexual enhancement, but it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider first to determine the best treatment option. Here are some possible treatments to consider for treating low libido.

    1. Medications

    First, a doctor will want to review current medications to address whether they are the cause of the low libido.

    While some antidepressants like Paxil and Prozac can cause a decrease in desire, others, such as Wellbutrin, can address low sex drive for some women.

    A personal physician may prescribe another medication to treat low libido in premenopausal women.

    • Flibanserin (Addyi). Taken once a day at bedtime to treat low sex drive. Side effects include dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
    • Bremelanotide (Vylees). An injection you give yourself before sexual activity. Some women experience nausea, flushing, headache, and skin reactions.

    2. Therapy and sexual education

    Studies show talking with a counselor or therapist can help address problems with sexual dysfunction, including a decreased libido.

    Individual psychotherapy, or talk therapy, helps people recognize unhealthy emotions, feelings, and thoughts regarding sex.

    A couples therapist will recommend reading materials and couples exercises that help to heal the psychological issue.

    3. Hormonal therapy

    Once a doctor has run a blood test to verify hormone levels, they may recommend hormone therapy.

    Vaginal dryness is the number one complaint of menopausal women experiencing poor libido.

    Hormone therapies are proven to treat imbalances that cause sex to be painful or uncomfortable. Here are a few types of therapy treatments that may be recommended:

    4. Lifestyle changes

    The simplest start to tackling a low libido is making healthier lifestyle choices. Here are a few potential changes to consider making:

    • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps to increase stamina and improve body image, which may result in increased desire for sex.
    • De-stress: Stress is proven to cause low libido. Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga are activities that can potentially help to reduce stress.
    • Spice things up: Experiment with new positions, draw out foreplay, or throw in a little sex toy play or fantasy.
    • Toss the bad habits: Cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption, and recreational drugs all negatively impact sex drive.

    5. Alternate libido medications

    Specific vitamins and minerals may also help address a declining libido. Consider getting more of the following in your diet:

    • Vitamin B
    • Vitamin B3 & B6
    • Vitamin E
    • Magnesium
    • Vitamin C
    • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
    • Iron
    • Zinc
    • DHEA

    Some women require supplements to fill in nutritional gaps when treating poor libido. Over-the-counter supplements (OTC) like Libido Booster for Women are available without the need for a prescription.

    Be sure to follow the instructions on the label of any supplement to avoid adverse effects. Before starting any supplement, always chat with your doctor to avoid side effects or medication interactions.

    At what age do women have low libido?

    Dr. Tesfu states that, “Women can experience low libido at any age, but certain life stages are associated with a higher risk. The perimenopause and postmenopause phases, typically in a woman's late 40s to early 50s, are often associated with a decrease in libido due to hormonal changes.”

    In addition she stated, “However, many younger women also experience low libido due to stress, relationship difficulties, and other factors. It's also important to remember that individual experiences vary greatly, and not all women will experience a decrease in libido at these times.”

    Takeaways

    Low sex drive in women is more common than you think. Research shows that nearly 27% of premenopausal women and 52% of menopausal women experience decreased sexual desire.

    The causes of low libido in females can be physical, emotional, or psychological. Physical issues that can affect sex drive include Illness, infections, lifestyle and medication interactions.

    Emotional and psychological issues that may lower sex drive include stress, low self-esteem, past abuse and relationship problems.

    Doctor-prescribed and over-the-counter medication is available that treats poor libido in women. Additionally, supplements and vitamins may be helpful as well. Be sure to discuss with your doctor if low libido is negatively affecting your life.

    Dr. Blen Tesfu

    Dr. Blen Tesfu

    Dr. Blen Tesfu is a practicing physician who is also pursuing a master's in epidemiology and Public Health. She has extensive experience working in primary as well as Tertiary care settings, particularly with women's health and reproductive medicine, communicable diseases, and non-communicable illnesses. Throughout her role as General Practitioner, she has gained diverse knowledge and experience on complex medical topics and dedication to patient education and promotional activities for public well-being initiatives. She is passionate about staying up-to-date on the latest research findings through research publications, journal articles, and guidelines that help inform the best evidence-based practices when treating patients across different communities worldwide.

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    Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can find out more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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    The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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