Not feeling so sexy in the sack lately? Take heart. Low libido is common, it’s curable, and it’s natural for the big O to go AWOL at certain points in a woman’s life. There are as many ways to give your sultry side a lift as reasons your sex drive might be stuck in neutral. Could the male hormone testosterone be the answer?
If the issue turns out to be hormonal, testosterone replacement may be the solution. Testosterone isn’t for every woman with low libido, but for some — notably women in peri or full menopause — applying a small amount of bioidentical testosterone may put the va-voom back into the bedroom and offer additional health benefits to boot.
While it’s an uncomfortable topic to tackle, talk to your partner and a doctor you trust. Write down your feelings and physical symptoms to help narrow down the underlying causes.
Causes of low libido
Like with any mysterious symptom or change that pops up in your body, the first step is to identify an underlying trigger. Does your gut tell you it’s physical? Psychological? Hormonal? A result of your relationship or a new medication? A combination of several factors?
An enormous number of physical issues can contribute to diminished sex drive:
- Sexual problems
Pain during sex (dyspareunia) or inability to orgasm (anorgasmia) can dampen your desire for sex.
- Medical issues
Illnesses that can dampen your sex drive include arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and neurological diseases. Infertility also can lead to low sex drive, even after infertility treatments are over.
Medications including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, chemotherapy drugs, even over-the-counter antihistamines can douse your sex drive.
- Alcohol and drugs
While one glass of wine might help you relax enough to get in the mood, too many can take away your desire. Street drugs can have the same result.
Surgery in the breast or genital tract can affect your body image, function and desire for sex.
Exhaustion, stress or adrenal fatigue from the demands of life such as caring for children or aging parents can contribute to low sex drive.
Hormones are extremely powerful chemicals in the body; any imbalance or change can diminish your desire for sex:
Estrogen helps maintain vaginal tissue health. As estrogen levels drop during the transition to menopause, women may experience lower libido and vaginal dryness that can lead to painful sex.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, post-baby and during breastfeeding can dampen sex drive. Chronic exhaustion, changes in body image, a view of the breasts as functional (not recreational), and the transitions of new motherhood can affect your desire for intimacy.
How you feel about your body, your life and your partner deeply affects your libido. Sex isn’t just about how you react in your nether regions; feeling sexy begins further north — in your head. The following issues can douse your desire:
- Mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
- Poor body image
- Low self-esteem
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Relationship issues
Feeling emotionally connected to your partner affects how you feel about heading to the bedroom with him. Mental intimacy is often a woman’s sexual appetizer. As a result, ongoing relationship issues — such as the following — can turn you off:
- Lack of emotional connection with your partner
- Unresolved conflicts
- Poorly communicating your sexual needs and preferences
- Infidelity or breaking of trust