Where’d my libido go? 4 causes of low sex drive in women
Sex drive shifted into park? One of these issues could be the culprit.
It’s normal to lose interest in sex from time to time, especially as you age. In fact, it may not be a big deal to you if you’re comfortable with it.
But if a dip in your libido, also known as sex drive or desire for sex, is affecting your daily life — or causing a rift with a partner — you’re probably wondering how to get things going again.
The first step? Finding the root cause.
Low sex drive: Common causes for a common issue
Low libido happens. If things are awry with your physical or emotional health, for example, your desire for sex is likely to take a hit. The good news? It’s treatable.
“Low sex drive in women is common and can be caused by many things,” explains Dr. Sabrina Whitehurst, OBGYN at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital. “But finding the root cause can lead to effective treatment — often, it’s as simple as changing a medication you’re taking.”
Here are some common causes for low libido in women:
1. You’re on birth control or an antidepressant
Most birth control pills contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. If you’re taking a pill with both, it may lower your level of testosterone — the hormone that drives your sexual desire.
Sexual side effects are also common when taking antidepressants, especially SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs work by raising the levels of serotonin in your body, making you feel more calm and less anxious. This can also lower your libido.
“There are other medications and physical factors, like an underlying medical condition, that may lower your sex drive,” adds Dr. Whitehurst. “Your primary care physician or OBGYN can suggest new prescriptions or dosages and help you manage any medical conditions that may be impacting your well-being.”
2. Natural hormone changes due to pregnancy or menopause
If you’re pregnant, just had a baby or are breastfeeding, your sexual desire may be low due to changing hormones. “Fatigue, changes to your body and the stress of being a new parent may also cause a dip in your libido,” adds Dr. Whitehurst. “This is normal, especially for the first few months after giving birth.”
You may also notice a drop in your sex drive when transitioning to menopause. During this time, your estrogen levels drop — causing loss of libido and vaginal dryness, which can lead to uncomfortable sex.
“If you’re struggling to feel like yourself again after birth, or feeling pain during sex, your doctor can help,” says Dr. Whitehurst. “Don’t be afraid to speak up.”
3. Your mental health could use some attention
From untreated anxiety or depression and high stress to poor body image and low self-esteem — when you don’t feel good, sex is probably the last thing on your mind.
“And if you’re coping with stressors by smoking, drinking alcohol or using other substances, your physical health will also suffer as a result,” adds Dr. Whitehurst.
If your mental health is taking a toll on your overall well-being, it’s time to talk to your doctor. “A therapist can help you manage any mental health conditions and teach you healthy ways to cope with stressors,” says Dr. Whitehurst.
4. Issues in your romantic relationship
For many women, emotional closeness is essential for intimacy. So, if you’re having problems with your partner, it could be the cause of your lower-than-normal sex drive.
If connection is lacking with your partner, you have unresolved conflicts or maybe some trust issues, marriage counseling or couple’s therapy can help you work together to resolve the issues — and focus on building your relationship back up.
If your problem is simply lack of time or effort, setting aside time for connection and intimacy can go a long way in spicing up your love life.
Treating low libido — you have options
No matter what’s causing your low sex drive, there are ways to improve it.
Your primary care doctor or OBGYN can help identify any medical factors that may be causing your low libido. From there, they can suggest lifestyle changes, tweak existing or prescribe new medications and help you manage any underlying medical conditions.
Another option includes therapy — either as an individual or as a couple — so you can work toward healing and managing any personal or relationship issues that may be causing your low sex drive.
The bottom line? “If your low libido is bothering you, it’s worth talking to your doctor about,” says Dr. Whitehurst.
Meet Sabrina Whitehurst, MD
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