Sex is a topic that many people want to talk about — but few want to acknowledge if it becomes a problem. Many women face challenges in what is often the first step in sexual intimacy, which is sexual desire or sex drive.
Women with low sex drive have reduced sexual interest and few sexual fantasies or thoughts. If you experience this, you may not want to have sex with your partner or return your partner’s advances. As a result, you can’t be an active partner in sexual intimacy, as much as you might try.
Low sex drive impacts both people in a relationship. You may feel anxious because you want to increase your sex drive. But at the same time, you don’t feel the emotions or physical longing. While you care for your partner, you may find yourself unable to fulfill the sexual part of the relationship.
Low sex drive can also affect your partner. They may see themselves as undesirable and lacking sexual fulfillment. This can lead to in relationship difficulties.
There are several steps that you and your partner can take before these difficulties set in.
Many women with low sex drive are surprised to find out how common the condition is. According to The North American Menopause Society, about 5.4 to 13.6 percent of women in the United States have hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), now known as female sexual interest/arousal disorder.. This condition causes women to experience low sex drive that affects their relationship or quality of life. The condition can occur in both premenopausal and menopausal women.
You don’t have to make living with low sex drive your new norm. The condition is treatable. In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a medication for HSDD. Flibanserin (Addyi) treats premenopausal women with this disorder. However, the drug isn’t for everyone. Side effects of this pill include hypotension (low blood pressure), fainting, and dizziness.
In 2019, the FDA approved a second HSDD medication. This medication, known as bremelanotide (Vyleesi), is self-administered via injection. Side effects of Vyleesi include severe nausea, reactions at the site of the injection, and headache.
Other medical treatments, such as topical estrogen, can also enhance your sex drive.
Another option is individual or couple’s therapy. This can help improve communication within a relationship. In turn, this can strengthen sexual bonds and spark desire.
There have been many advances in research and information on HSDD and other conditions related to low sex drive. If you experience low sex drive, talk to your doctor. This could be your primary care physician, gynecologist, or mental health professional. Each of these experts can check you for potential underlying causes related to low sex drive. They can also recommend treatments to enhance sex drive.
There’s no reason to feel ashamed, embarrassed, or even unsure about talking to your doctor. Sexual health is tied with mental and physical health. The impacts of a strained relationship and lower quality of life can carry over into your overall health. Try not to neglect or brush aside your emotions related to sex.
Communication between sexual partners is vital. Communication is especially important to achieve successful outcomes when treating HSDD. According to a survey from the National Women’s Health Resource Center on the impacts of low sexual desire on a relationship:
- 59 percent of women report that low sex drive or HSDD puts a negative impact on their relationships.
- 85 percent of women said low sexual desire hurts intimacy levels with a partner.
- 66 percent of women report that low sexual desire impacts their relationship communication.
While HSDD and low sex drive can impact a relationship, you can take steps to communicate better and enhance intimacy. Some suggestions include:
- Engaging in more foreplay or designating a night where the couple can kiss and touch. This doesn’t have to end with intercourse.
- Engaging in role play or new sexual positions that could stimulate more sensations for a woman.
- Using sex toys, costumes, or lingerie — something new to change the sexual experience.
Enhanced sex drive may not happen overnight, but it’s not impossible. It’s important that you and your partner commit to trying new things. Also, support each other through treatment. Together and with time, low sex drive can improve.