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19 Reasons for a Low Sex Drive

woman with low sex drive

If you find yourself asking, ‘What happened to my sex drive?’ you’re not alone. It’s a common problem for women, especially after giving birth or as they age. But there are many other reasons for a low sex drive, ranging from hormonal imbalances to lack of self esteem. That said, there is help available.

19 Reasons for a Low Sex Drive

1. Hormonal imbalances: The three hormones that impact a woman’s sex drive and reproductive organs are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

  • Testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for a healthy libido in women. Like men, women also have testosterone, just not at the same levels. Testosterone in women also fluctuates daily and monthly, and typically lowers with advancing age. A low testosterone level reduces the possibility of a satisfying sexual experience by minimizing enthusiasm, sensitivity and arousal.
  • Estrogen is the main hormone responsible for the development of the female sex organs. It regulates the menstrual cycle and is crucial in thickening the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy. As women age and enter the perimenopausal stage, estrogen begins to decrease until the levels are so low that menopause occurs. Vaginal tissue becomes thinner, less elastic and drier. As with testosterone, natural lubrication diminishes with less estrogen, resulting in a reduced sex drive.
  • Progesterone is another female hormone that is vital in thickening both the uterine wall and endometrium to protect the egg during the process of fertilization, conception and pregnancy. Progesterone also regulates a woman’s menstrual cycle. As with estrogen, levels decline with age. It is believed that progesterone’s role in waning libido is just as important as those of testosterone and estrogen.

2. Menstrual cycle: Irregular periods or a lack of a menstrual cycle can wreak havoc on natural hormonal processes, causing a reduced sexual desire.

3. Age: Testosterone, progesterone and estrogen levels diminish as women age and enter menopause, causing lowered sexual interest, loss of muscle mass, compromised bone health and vaginal dryness that can lead to painful intercourse. As these hormone levels decrease, so does libido.

4. Antidepressants or other medications: Prescription drugs have side effects, and often includes a reduced sexual desire. Sexual dysfunction and even genital numbness may be attributed to some currently prescribed antidepressants. Blood pressure medications, antihistamines and sleep aids are just a few that can interfere with sexual desire. Always give your doctor a complete list of medications you are taking.

5. Lack of quality sleep: Fatigue and irritability can cause drowsiness, irritability and fatigue, which can cause a lack of sexual desire.

6. Birth control: Some oral contraceptives fool the body into believing it is pregnant by neutralizing the very hormones that enhance libido. If you notice a sudden disinterest in sex after starting birth control, speak to your doctor.

7. Alcohol, smoking or drug abuse: Smoking restricts blood flow to the body. The clitoris, labia and vagina become engorged with blood during sexual arousal, just like a man’s penis, so restricting this flow also restricts sensation and response to physical stimulation. Alcohol is a depressant. It dehydrates the body, dulls sensitivity and causes loss of vaginal lubrication.

8. Giving birth: Immediately after giving birth, a woman’s hormones cause an uproar in her body. Physical trauma to the vaginal area, possible postpartum syndrome and the exhaustion and stress of caring for a newborn amplify a lack of interest in sex. These issues may only last a few weeks or months, but if sexual desire remains low or nonexistent for longer, consult your doctor.

9. Genital conditions: Pelvic organ prolapse, tissue deterioration, fecal incontinence, urinary problems, atrophy and a small vaginal opening are only a few of the physical problems that can decrease sexual desire. If you experience pain with intercourse, or prolapse or incontinence is disruptive, seek treatment from a urogynecologist, a specialist in advanced female pelvic reconstruction. 


10. Vaginal dryness: Many physical conditions — including giving birth, hormone imbalances or aging — can cause vaginal dryness. It often can cause painful intercourse, which in turn leads to a lack of desire.

11. Surgery: A hysterectomy with or without removal of the ovaries decreases the hormones necessary for sexual gratification.

12. Major health conditions: Cancer, high blood pressure, neurological disorders, hypothyroidism, diabetes, arthritis, infertility and coronary artery disease — along with the medications and procedures necessary to correct these issues — are just a few disorders that can lessen sexual desire.

13. Anemia: Low iron levels caused by heavy periods can result in anemia. Anemia reduces red blood cells and compromises a protein called hemoglobin whose job is to push oxygen from your lungs to all your body parts, including the pelvic area. Since blood is vital to the labia, clitoris and vagina to enhance erotic sensitivity, anemia can greatly subdue bedroom pleasure and cause fatigue, weakness and sexual apathy.

14. Depression or low self-esteem: Either of these emotional conditions can affect performance or pleasure by causing disinterest, especially if medication is being used to control the issue. If a woman lacks confidence,  she may shy away from physical contact, robbing herself of the gratification of a healthy sex life.

15. History of sexual abuse: Rape, assault and molestation can have a devastating effect on the psyche. Without counseling, the aftermath of these experiences can leave lifelong psychological scars, and it is understandable that a woman may avoid any future sexual encounters.

16. Trauma: Psychological trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can follow any highly disturbing event. Just as with sexual abuse, the repercussive emotions following the death of a loved one, a divorce, violence, being the victim of a crime, etc. may lead to sexual dysfunction and a lower sex drive.

17. Relationship problems: Constant tension and conflict with a loved one can slowly chip away at even the strongest of relationships. Anger and unresolved issues ultimately make their way into the bedroom, negatively impacting any activity that is still, or no longer, going on there.

18. Stress: Worries about health, finances or other everyday problems cause physical and mental tension. If a woman is unable to relax and enjoy sex, orgasm is impossible and frustration is inevitable, causing her to lose interest altogether.

19. Poor communication: Optimal sexual performance does not come naturally. It’s a learning process for both partners. Many couples avoid telling each other what pleases them in the bedroom. Whether it is due to shyness, fear of shock or ridicule, women sometimes avoid telling their mates what they prefer and, in time, come to dread intimacy altogether.

How Can I Get Help?

In order to get to the root of the problem, an honest discussion with your OB/GYN is necessary, as well as a list of any medications you are currently taking. Your doctor will ask relevant questions to find out whether the problem is physical or emotional.

After an examination of the genital area, blood tests may be required to determine hormonal levels. Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will move forward to correct the problem. It may be as simple as a change or alteration in medication or a new prescription. If surgery is indicated, most physical corrections are minimally invasive, can be done in our office and the recovery time is usually short.

Get Your Sex Life Back

So if you find yourself asking yourself, ‘What Happened to My Sex Drive’, know that you’re not alone and many women are feeling the same way. However, women can and should enjoy a satisfying sex life at any age, and with modern medicine, we are usually able to effectively treat the problem.

So while there are several reasons for a low sex drive, help is available. Call us today at 770.720.7733 or request an appointment online.