Why Women Lose Interest in Sex
What Is Low Sexual Desire? continued...
Therefore, all of these aspects of sexual desire must be
examined in order to determine the root of the problem.
Common causes for a loss of sexual desire and drive in women
Interpersonal relationship issues. Partner performance problems,
lack of emotional satisfaction with the relationship, the birth of a child, and
becoming a caregiver for a loved one can decrease sexual desire.
Sociocultural influences. Job stress, peer pressure, and media
images of sexuality can negatively influence sexual desire.
Low testosterone. Testosterone affects sexual drive in both men and
women. Testosterone levels peak in women's mid-20s and then steadily decline
until menopause, when they drop dramatically.
Medical problems: Mental illnesses such as depression, or medical
conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, and thyroid disorders, impact a
woman's sexual drive both mentally and physically.
Medications: Certain antidepressants (including the new generation
of SSRIs), blood pressure lowering drugs, and oral contraceptives can lower
sexual drive in many ways, such as decreasing available testosterone levels or
affecting blood flow.
Age. Blood levels of androgens fall continuously in women as they
Putting the Desire Back in Women's Sex Lives
Because a loss of sexual desire in women is caused by a
combination of physical and psychological factors, it usually requires more
than one treatment approach to fix the problem.
"For women, it is much more complex. They're not just
complaining of one plumbing problem, says Shifren. "So we have to be more
thoughtful in our approaches to treatment."
Once the factors causing low sexual desire have been
determined, potential treatment options may include:
Sex therapy and/or relationship counseling. "Sex therapy is very
effective for individuals and couples, and that is always at the top of my
list," says Shifren. Sexual dysfunction usually affects both parties in a
relationship and should be discussed together or individually with a mental
Changing medications or altering the dose. If the problem is caused
by medications, a change of prescription or alternative therapies may be
recommended. If an oral contraceptive is suspected as the culprit in lowering
testosterone levels, a different formulation or nonhormonal birth control
methods may be prescribed.
Addressing underlying medical conditions. Medical problems
contributing to low sexual desire may require surgical treatment, such as the
removal of painful fibroids or medication.
Vaginal estrogens. In postmenopausal women, vaginal dryness may be
treated with vaginal estrogen creams.
Testosterone therapy. Although no hormone or drug has been approved
by the FDA to treat sexual problems in women, many gynecologists recommend
off-label uses of testosterone therapy for women with low sexual desire to
restore testosterone to normal (pre-menopausal) levels.
In addition, several therapies involving testosterone pills or
skin patches specifically designed to treat female sexual problems are
currently being studied in hopes of FDA approval in the near future.