Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), now known as female sexual interest/arousal disorder, is a condition that produces chronically low sex drive in women. It affects quality of life in women as well as their relationships. HSDD is common, and according to the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, an estimated 1 in 10 women experience it.
Many women are hesitant to seek treatment for HSDD. Others may be unaware that it exists at all. While starting a conversation with your doctor may be difficult, it’s important to be open with them.
If you’re dealing with low sex drive but are hesitant to talk to your doctor about it, you can write or type a list of questions to take to your doctor visit to ensure your questions are answered. You may also wish to take a notebook or trusted friend, so you can remember your doctor’s answers later on.
Here are some questions you may want to ask about low sex drive and treatments for HSDD.
Your doctor may make referrals to those who specialize in the treatment of HSDD. They may recommend a variety of professionals, from sex therapists to mental health professionals. Sometimes, treatment involves an interdisciplinary team who can address the potential contributing factors.
Other similar questions that you may want to ask include:
- Have you treated women with similar concerns before?
- Can you make any recommendations for relationship or marital therapy experts who could help me?
- What are some nonmedical treatments?
- Are there other specialists I should consider seeing for any underlying medical conditions that could be affecting my sex drive?
Not every woman living with HSDD needs prescription medications. Sometimes, treatment may only include changing current medication, spending more nonsexual time with your partner, or making certain lifestyle changes.
However, several medications to treat HSDD exist. Hormonal treatments include estrogen therapy, which can be given in pill, patch, gel, or cream form. Doctors may sometimes prescribe progesterone, too.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two prescription treatments specifically for low sex drive in premenopausal women. One is an oral medication known as flibanserin (Addyi). The other is a self-injectable medication known as bremelanotide (Vyleesi).
However, these prescription treatments aren’t for everyone.
Addyi’s side effects include hypotension (low blood pressure), fainting, and dizziness. Vyleesi’s side effects include severe nausea, injection site reactions, and headache.
Some more questions on medications for HSDD include:
- What are the potential side effects of taking this medication?
- What results can I expect from taking this medication?
- How long do you think it will take for this treatment to work?
- Could this medication interfere with my other medications or supplements?
Women with HSDD don’t have to feel powerless in their treatment. There are several steps you can take at home to treat your HSDD. Often, these steps revolve around exercise, relieving stress, being more open with your partner, and experimenting with different activities in your sex life. Your doctor can help you explore ways to promote stress relief whenever possible. They can also suggest relationship or marital therapy for certain scenarios.
More questions you might ask about at-home treatments are:
- What are some habits that could be contributing to my HSDD?
- What are some of the most effective ways I could relieve stress and anxiety?
- Are there other techniques to enhance communication and intimacy that you would recommend?
You may have been experiencing low sex drive for many months before raising your concerns with your doctor. Sometimes, it can even be years before you realize that your issues related to sex and sexual desire are actually a treatable condition.
For some women, it may take time to see changes in your sex drive. You may need to try different approaches to HSDD treatment to determine what is most effective. The timing for this can range from months to a year. You should always check in with your doctor and be honest about your progress.
Other questions you should ask your doctor on this topic include:
- How will I know if a treatment is not working?
- What are some of the milestones I can look for in my treatment?
- What are side effects I should call you about?
It’s important to follow up with your doctor about your HSDD treatment. Your doctor may recommend different times for check-ins, ranging from monthly to every six months or more. These follow-ups can help you and your doctor identify which treatments are working and which are not.
You may also want to ask:
- What are some signs that mean I am doing better?
- Where do you expect my progress to be at our next follow-up visit?
- What symptoms or side effects mean I should schedule an earlier appointment?
Taking the initial step to discuss your low sex drive with your doctor can be daunting. Once you receive a diagnosis of HSDD, you may have even more questions about how it can be treated. But by preparing yourself with a list of questions to ask at your next appointment, you can soon find yourself on the way back to a satisfying sex life.