Living with libido loco? For a growing number of women,
declining hormones, job stress, relationship issues, menopause, and other
problems are taking their toll in the bedroom.
Loss of sexual desire, known in medical terms as hypoactive
sexual desire disorder (HSDD), is the most common form of sexual dysfunction
among women of all ages. A recent study showed that nearly one-third of women
aged 18 to 59 suffer from a lost interest in sex, and it's not all in their
Unlike men's main sexual complaint, erectile dysfunction,
women's biggest sexual problem is caused by a combination of both mental and
physical factors, which aren't likely to be cured by merely popping a pill.
"Women's sexuality tends to be multifaceted and fairly
complicated," says sex psychologist Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD. "Although we
would love to simplify it so we could have the one-two or even a one-punch
treatment, it doesn't tend to work that way."
But the introduction of anti-impotence treatments in the last
few years has spurred more research into the causes of sexual dysfunction among
both men and women, and effective therapies are available to help put the lust
back into women's lives.
What Is Low Sexual Desire?
Contrary to popular belief, experts say frequency of sexual
intercourse has nothing to do with sexual desire or satisfaction.
"One of first things I do in speaking to women who come in
with sexual concerns is let them know that there is no normal frequency or set
of behaviors and things change with time," says Jan Shifren, MD, an
assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. "If it's working for them
and/or their partner, there is no problem."
But when a woman experiences a significant decrease in interest
in sex that is having an effect on her life and is causing distress, then it's
considered a problem of low sexual desire or HSDD.
Kingsberg says that sexual desire is more than just an issue of
low libido or sex drive. She says sexual drive is the biological component of
desire, which is reflected as spontaneous sexual interest including sexual
thoughts, erotic fantasies, and daydreams.
Kingsberg, who is an associate professor of reproductive
biology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine says, "It's about
your body signaling that it wants to be sexual. Whether or not there is any
intention to act on it, we all have a certain level of drive."
That sexual drive declines naturally with age based on
physiological factors. But sexual desire also encompasses interpersonal and
psychological factors that create a willingness to be sexual.
"Above and beyond horniness, it is the sense of intimacy in
the relationship," says Kingsberg. "If you are mad at your spouse, you
could be horny but you're not going want to be sexual with that particular