Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) — now known as female sexual interest/arousal disorder — is a sexual dysfunction that causes a lowered sex drive in women.
Many women may unknowingly pass off symptoms of this disorder as side effects of a hectic work life, changes in their body, or aging. But it’s a real condition with treatment available.
The following are common myths and facts surrounding HSDD. By educating yourself on the condition, you can feel confident to speak to your doctor about finding treatment for this disorder.
A better quality of life is just around the corner.
Myth: HSDD is part of aging
All women are likely to experience a lowered sex drive at some point in time. In fact, doctors have identified that women usually experience a decline in sexual desire as they age.
However, there is a difference between a temporary lack of sexual desire and HSDD. Understanding the difference is key to finding the right treatment.
Common symptoms of this disorder include:
- intense decline or loss of sexual thoughts
- intense decline or loss of interest in initiating sex
- intense decline or loss of receptiveness to a partner initiating sex
If your sex drive is so low that it’s affecting your intimate relationships, it might be time to talk to your doctor. In order for it to be considered a disorder, it must cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulties and not be better accounted for by another mental disorder, medical condition, a drug (legal or illegal), severe relationship distress, or other major stressors — this is important to mention.
Many different things can contribute to a lowered sex drive in women. It’s important to understand the root of your symptoms before starting treatment for this disorder.
Some contributing factors of HSDD include:
- hormonal changes
- surgically induced menopause due to the removal of one or both ovaries (which shows that women can experience this disorder regardless of age)
- low self-esteem
- chronic conditions, like diabetes or cancer
- treatments or conditions that affect the brain
- problems in the relationship (such as lack of trust or communication)
Myth: Very few women have HSDD
HSDD is the most common sexual disorder in women and can occur at any age. According to The North American Menopause Society, the percentages of women who experience the condition are:
- 8.9 percent (from ages 18 to 44)
- 12.3 percent of women (from ages 45 to 64)
- 7.4 percent of women (ages 65 and older)
Although it’s common, this disorder is traditionally hard to diagnose due to the lack of awareness around the condition.
Myth: HSDD isn’t a high priority for treatment
HSDD is a high priority for treatment. A woman’s sexual health is closely related to her overall health, and symptoms of HSDD shouldn’t be brushed aside.
The symptoms of this disorder affect a woman’s quality of life and can negatively impact her intimate relationships. As a result, some women may experience social anxiety, insecurity, or depression.
Also, women with this disorder are more likely to have comorbid medical conditions and back pain.
Treatment for HSDD includes:
- estrogen therapy
- combination therapy, like estrogen and progesterone
- sex therapy (speaking to a specialist can help a woman identify her wants and needs)
- relationship or marital counseling to help with improving communication
In August 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a medication called flibanserin (Addyi) for HSDD in premenopausal women. This marks the first drug approved to treat the condition for men or women. However, the drug isn’t for everyone. side effects include hypotension (low blood pressure), fainting, and dizziness.
Intimacy plays a major role in a woman’s physical and mental well-being. If your lowered sexual desire is impacting your quality of life, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. There are treatment options available.