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5 Common Reasons for Low Sex Drive

Since sexual satisfaction plays a crucial part in physical and mental well-being, problems with low sex drive deserve just as much attention and treatment as any other physical or mental illness. To understand the nature of low sex drive, here’s a breakdown of some of the most frequent causes.

Various types of sex drive affect nearly 40 percent of women overall and about 12 percent of women in the United States. 

Cultural aspects of a person’s upbringing, such as religion and subtle messages about female body anatomy passed through generations, can affect someone’s perception and understanding of their sexuality. Familial and cultural influences have a lot to do with the psychological aspect of sexuality.

Having a background and upbringing that included body shame or messages (subtle or more obvious) that having sexual desires is wrong or immoral can lead someone to experience a low sex drive.

Here are the five most common reasons that lead to low libido in women.

Stress is one of the most frequent causes of low sex drive. Common stressors that can affect a person’s overall well-being, including their sex drive, include:

  • Financial problems such as debt or low income
  • Stress at work such as a hostile or dysfunctional work environment, long hours, overworking, and a lack of motivation or appreciation for efforts
  • Relationship problems such as unaddressed relationship issues, lack of communication about sex, and lack of emotional support
  • Family issues such as parenting and pregnancy and not having enough help or support with children and housework

While a health care provider can often help pinpoint the exact causes of a low sex drive, you can do a lot to relieve stress from your life and regain a sense of balance and satisfaction. While getting the right treatment to help you overcome low sex drive, you can try easing the load in your daily life by:

  • Getting more help at home
  • Prioritizing friends and quality time with family over housework
  • Getting more sleep, even at the cost of unfinished work
  • Addressing relationship issues. If you have a partner, would your relationship benefit from counseling? Could you and your partner spend more time together and regain the lost connection?
  • Talking about sex. Don’t keep your problem to yourself. If sex is a taboo topic in your circles, you may want to find people who you trust enough to share your feelings with. 

Physical illness can affect the body in a way that reduces the desire for sex. Some of the most frequent physical and mental causes for low sex drive include:

  • Injury that affects reproductive organs, nerves, or blood vessels can reduce sex drive. Disrupted blood flow to the genitals often results in reduced sex drive. Procedures like a hysterectomy as well as injuries that result from childbirth can also result in less desire for sex.
  • Chronic illness, particularly pain, harms overall physical and mental well-being. A range of illnesses including hormonal imbalance, hypothyroidism, diabetes, anemia, and neurological disorders all affect the body’s normal functioning. If these conditions affect healthy sleep and disrupt normal daily routines, it’s normal to feel “off” and lose the sense of balance necessary for a healthy sex life.
  • Mental problems like anxiety and depression often reduce sex drive. Aside from underlying issues with self-love and self-confidence, depression and anxiety drain physical energy. This further results in a sluggish, tired feeling that doesn’t usually lead to a vibrant sex life. The side effects from taking medications for mental illness, such as anti-depressants, or regular treatment for other chronic illnesses can also cause low sex drive.

What can you do to reduce the effect of illness on your sex drive? You can discuss the issue with a health care provider. They will recommend the right methods to improve your mood and regain energy. Healthy lifestyle changes in this case may include:

  • More rest and leisure time can help. It’s easy to feel overworked and exhausted while coping with chronic illness and trying to keep up with usual routines. Ease the load of daily work and focus on healing.
  • Dietary improvements, like consuming fewer simple carbs, can help increase energy levels. Consult a dietitian to tailor a diet plan specifically for your health situation and lifestyle.
  • Physical activity, such as an amount of exercise and outdoor activities that’s right for you may help you feel more relaxed and energized.

Imbalances in hormone levels, such as cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, and thyroid hormones, affect sex drive.

  • Cortisol levels can fluctuate due to daily stress. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to feeling tired, drained, and overwhelmed. Cortisol is also linked to blood sugar problems and cravings for unhealthy foods. Make sure that you’re not experiencing chronic stress, constantly running around and feeling restless but not energized.
  • Estrogen, one of the main female sex hormones, causes many health issues if it’s out of balance. Aside from reduced sex drive, increased or low levels of estrogen can cause bloating, sudden weight gain, mood swings, vaginal dryness, light or heavy periods, and abnormal Pap smears.
  • An underactive thyroid can cause fatigue and rapid weight gain. It can also cause feelings of constantly being tired and a bad mood. 
  • Testosterone imbalance can also cause low sex drive. Acne, skin tags, hair loss, excess hair, anxiety, and infertility are some of the other common problems caused by a testosterone imbalance.

Although it varies a lot from person to person, female sex drive often decreases starting in the 40s, and the menopausal transition plays a key role. Declining estrogen levels during the menopausal transition can lead to less desire for sex. In addition, abrupt menopause, a condition that happens when female reproductive organs are removed (e.g., hysterectomy), can also affect sex drive.

Women’s high sex drive after 40 is also common and can result from reduced stress with children leaving home and other life changes.

Excessive alcohol and tobacco use over an extended period of time can reduce sex drive.

Alcohol can also reduce the chances of pregnancy, especially if fertility issues are in play. Cutting back on alcohol and smoking and focusing on a healthy lifestyle are better options and can positively affect sex drive.

Mental illness as well as underlying psychological problems that don’t require treatment can both impact sex drive. Here are some issues that can impact the desire for sex:

  • Confidence and self-esteem — A person needs to carry love and acceptance for themselves and their own body in order to have a healthy sex life. A lack of confidence can lead to feelings of insecurity about the body and a diminished desire for sex.
  • Trauma and abuse — Being in an abusive relationship, whether the abuse is emotional, physical, or sexual, can cause low libido.
  • Childhood trauma — Dysfunctional and unhealthy views about the body and sexuality can pass through generations, and these familial influences can stand in the way of feeling liberated and enjoying sex.

If you’re wondering how to improve your sex drive, the answer is as complex as the condition itself. Working with experts who may include a physician, therapist, and sex therapist can help you regain physical health and solve psychological issues that result in less desire for sex.

There are many low sex drive remedies available in pharmacies and drug stores, but they should only be used after consulting a health care provider. Women’s sex drive pills are a pharmaceutical innovation, and they might help you overcome your issues. Speaking with a health care provider can help determine if they would be right for you. Still, considering how complex the issues behind low sex drive can be, it’s important to look into the causes behind it. 

What drives women’s libido might be a balance between physical and mental health, as well as satisfaction with one’s self and personal relationships. When a person experiences distress in one or several of these areas, be it physical illness, stress, or being in a bad relationship, sexual dysfunction might follow. 

Looking into the major reasons for low sex drive and their effect can help overcome low sex drive and regain a healthy relationship with the body. While it’s normal to feel a lack of desire for sex at times, it’s also normal to seek help if the issue becomes concerning.

You don’t have to have a diagnosis of any illness to treat low sex drive. If you feel like a lack of sexual desire is causing distress or you simply want to improve your quality of life (sex included), health care providers and therapists are here to help.

Faubion, Stephanie S., and Jordan E. Rullo. “Sexual Dysfunction in Women: A Practical Approach.” American Family Physician, 15 Aug. 2015, www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0815/p281.html.

“Decreased Desire.” Decreased Desire, Sexual Side Effects of Menopause, The North American Menopause Society, NAMS, www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/sexual-problems-at-midlife/decreased-desire.

Ganz, Patricia A., and Gail A. Greendale. “Female Sexual Desire-Beyond Testosterone.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 2 May 2007, academic.oup.com/jnci/article/99/9/659/2544306.

Montgomery, Keith A. “Sexual Desire Disorders.” Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), Matrix Medical Communications, June 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695750/.

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