“Libido, otherwise known as your sexual ‘drive’ or ‘desire’ varies from woman to woman and there is no right or wrong level. It is normal for desire to fluctuate…”.1

Umbrella
What may the Sexual Health and Libido Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Decreased Libido
  • Decreased Sex/Sexual Desire/Drive/Interest
  • Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD)
  • Female Sexual Interest-Arousal Disorder (FSIAD) [HSDD + Female Sexual Arousal Disorders]
  • Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)
  • Lack of Sexual Desire/Drive/Interest
  • Libido
  • Low Libido
  • Low Sex/Sexual Desire/Drive/Interest
  • Sex/Sexual Desire/Drive/Interest

Libido

What is libido?

DotS the definition of libido may vary. In Female Sexual Dysfunction: What Is Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD)? the (United States) Hormone Health Network’s (HHN) definition is:

“Libido is the desire to engage in sexual activity”.2

The (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health’s (JH) definition is:

“Libido is the sexual instinct or erotic desire and pleasure”.3

Low Libido

What is low libido?

DotS the definition of low libido may vary. The Australasian Menopause Society’s (AMS) definition is:

“Low libido refers to diminished desire for sex. When clinically a problem it is referred to as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD)”.4

Different Differences

Is libido one-size-fits-all?

In Libido: What Is Libido? the JH elaborate on:

“Libido varies from woman to woman and can be influenced by a range of different factors”.5

Cause

What may cause low libido in women?

In Low Sex Drive In Women: Symptoms & Causes – Causes the (United States) Mayo Clinic elaborate on:

“Desire for sex is based on a complex interaction of many things affecting intimacy, including physical and emotional well-being, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle, and your current relationship. If you’re experiencing a problem in any of these areas, it can affect your desire for sex”.6

In Libido the JH note:

“Libido, otherwise known as your sexual ‘drive’ or ‘desire’ varies from woman to woman and there is no right or wrong level. It is normal for desire to fluctuate perhaps due to changes in hormone levels, medication, your health, lifestyle changes and what’s happening in your relationship and in your life. If your libido level worries you there are a number of things you can do to improve desire. Finding a solution to the problem involves determining what seems to affect your libido and trying strategies to deal with this”.7

In Sexual Difficulties In the Menopause the AMS explain:

“Hormones are rarely the only factor involved in desire-arousal problems and other factors need to be identified and addressed. These might include relationship issues, psychological factors, side effects of common medications, such as antidepressants, or health issues such as diabetes. Women often say that the physical changes that occur with ageing and/or menopause make them feel more self-conscious about their body, particularly in relation to sex. Other changes in a woman’s life, such as a partner’s midlife issues (including erectile dysfunction), teenagers in the house or leaving home, and parents dying or requiring care will affect sexual function”.8

Common or Not

How common is low libido?

In the United States, according to the HHN:

“Studies show that about 33% of American women have low sex drive. Of those, about one in three women are upset about having low sex drive. That’s about 10% of all women in the United States”.9

In the United Kingdom, according to the (United Kingdom) NHS (National Health Service):

“Loss of libido (sex drive) is a common problem that affects many men and women at some point in their life”.10

The AMS note:

“Low libido is the most common sexual concern reported by women and is often inseparable from diminished capacity to become aroused”.11

Fluctuations

Can libido fluctuate?

In Low Sex Drive In Women: Symptoms & Causes – Overview the Mayo Clinic elaborate on:

“Women’s sexual desires naturally fluctuate over the years. Highs and lows commonly coincide with the beginning or end of a relationship or with major life changes, such as pregnancy, menopause or illness. Some medications used for mood disorders also can cause low sex drive in women”.12

Aging

Is there an association between aging and libido?

In Loss of Libido (Reduced Sex Drive): Getting Older and the Menopause the NHS note:

“A reduced sex drive isn’t an inevitable part of ageing, but it’s something many men and women experience as they get older. There can be many reasons for this, including:
  • Falling levels of sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) just before, during and after the menopause in women…”.13

In Menopause FAQs: Menopause Symptoms – Q. Ever since my periods stopped, my desire for sex has decreased. Is this normal? the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) explain:

“A. Sexual desire decreases with age in both sexes, and low desire is common in women in their 40s and 50s, but not universal. Some women have increased interest, while others notice no change at all. There is no major drop in testosterone at menopause. If lack of interest is related to discomfort with intercourse, estrogen may help”.14

Menopause

Is there an association between menopause and libido?

In Sexual Health & Menopause Online: Decreased Desire – Desire Usually (But Not Always) Wanes With Age  the NAMS elaborate on:

Sexual health and Libido
“During the menopause transition, the physical effects of falling estrogen levels—including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness—can undermine sexual motivation and drive”.15

In Sex & Relationships: Libido At Menopause the JH explain:

“Libido (sexual desire) tends to be lowered in some women at perimenopause and menopause. It is difficult to have desire if:

  • You have experienced pain because of a dry vagina
  • You are exhausted because of menopausal symptoms
  • You feel moody or frustrated by all the changes
  • You feel like you do not want to be touched as much.
Some women may improve with a trial of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) or with use of vaginal moisturisers/lubricants or vaginal oestrogen to improve vaginal dryness. It is an important issue to discuss with your doctor”.16

Relationships

Is there an association between relationships and libido?

Yes. The NHS note:

“One of the first things to consider is whether you’re happy in your relationship. Do you have any doubts or worries that could be behind your loss of sexual desire?”17

The JH explain:

“Low libido can become an issue in relationships when one partner wants sex more often than the other. This is called ‘desire discrepancy’ and can cause conflict and unhappiness”.18

Testosterone

Is there an association between testosterone and a woman’s libido?

The JH note:

“Whether testosterone can help women with loss of libido continues to be debated. Testosterone treatment in women aims to replace the reduced testosterone production by the ovaries that occurs as you age and after menopause”.19

The Mayo Clinic also note:

“Male hormones, such as testosterone, also play an important role in female sexual function, even though testosterone occurs in much lower amounts in women. It’s not approved by the FDA for sexual dysfunction in women, but sometimes it’s prescribed off-label to help lift a lagging libido. However, the use of testosterone in women is controversial. Taking it can cause acne, excess body hair, and mood or personality changes”.20

Treatment

How is low libido treated?

The NAMS explain:

“What’s important to remember is that there is a full range of psychological, cultural, personal, interpersonal and biological factors that can contribute to declining sexual interest, so if the decline in desire is bothering you, tell your healthcare provider. A clinical evaluation can identify any underlying medical or psychological causes of low sexual desire, which then can be treated as appropriate”.21

In Low Sex Drive In Women: Diagnosis & Treatment – Treatment the Mayo Clinic elaborate on:

“Most women benefit from a treatment approach aimed at the many causes behind this condition. Recommendations may include sex education, counseling, and sometimes medication and hormone therapy”.22

Health Care Provider

What if I have low libido?

If you have low libido, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. The NHS note:

“Everyone’s sex drive is different – there’s no such thing as a “normal” libido. But if you find your lack of desire for sex distressing or it’s affecting your relationship, it’s a good idea to get help”.23

The NAMS remind us:

“Don’t fall victim to the common female tendency to take on all the responsibility for solutions yourself. Most sexual problems involve both partners to some degree, so ensuring that your partner is engaged in working toward a solution can make a big difference in whether a solution is reached”.24

In Libido: Managing & Treating Low Libido – Seek Advice the JH elaborate on:

“It is better for your relationship and future sexual experiences to discuss your feelings of low libido. You may want to seek advice from your doctor, with your partner if appropriate. Some of the following may help:

  • Treatment for any underlying illness or medical condition
  • Lifestyle changes and stress management
  • Herbal remedies (see an accredited naturopath)
  • Hormone therapy (if appropriate)
  • Medication changes
  • Antidepressants (certain antidepressants may be more suitable, others can reduce libido)
  • Stress management
  • Couples counselling
  • Counselling with a therapist who specialised in sexual concerns”.25

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted above?

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Sources

  1. Libido. Last Updated 09 May 2019 — Topic Updated 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
  2. Decreased Libido: What Is Libido? Last Updated May 2018. Hormone Health Network http://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/mens-health/decreased-libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
  3. Libido: What Is Libido? Last Updated 09 May 2019 — Topic Updated 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
  4. Sexual Difficulties In the Menopause. Content Updated 27 June 2016. Australasian Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/722-sexual-difficulties-in-the-menopause Accessed: 30 July 2019
  5. Libido: What Is Libido? Last Updated 09 May 2019 — Topic Updated 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
  6. Low Sex Drive In Women: Symptoms & Causes – Causes. 15 February 2018. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sex-drive-in-women/symptoms-causes/syc-20374554 Accessed: 30 July 2019
  7. Libido. Last Updated 09 May 2019 — Topic Updated 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
  8. Sexual Difficulties In the Menopause. Content Updated 27 June 2016. Australasian Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/722-sexual-difficulties-in-the-menopause Accessed: 30 July 2019
  9. Female Sexual Dysfunction: What Is Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD)? Last Updated: October 2017. Hormone Health Network http://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/womens-health/female-sexual-dysfunction Accessed: 30 July 2019
  10. Loss of Libido (Reduced Sex Drive). Page Last Reviewed: 13 January 2017. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/loss-of-libido/ Accessed: 30 July 2019
  11. Sexual Difficulties In the Menopause. Content Updated 27 June 2016. Australasian Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/722-sexual-difficulties-in-the-menopause Accessed: 30 July 2019
  12. Low Sex Drive In Women: Symptoms & Causes – Overview. 15 February 2018. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sex-drive-in-women/symptoms-causes/syc-20374554 Accessed: 30 July 2019
  13. Loss of Libido (Reduced Sex Drive): Getting Older and the Menopause. Page Last Reviewed: 13 January 2017. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/loss-of-libido/#getting-older-and-the-menopause Accessed: 30 July 2019
  14. Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Ever since my periods stopped, my desire for sex has decreased. Is this normal? North American Menopause Society http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-your-health-after-menopause Accessed: 30 July 2019
  15. Sexual Health & Menopause Online: Decreased Desire – Desire Usually (But Not Always) Wanes With Age. North American Menopause Society http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/sexual-problems-at-midlife/decreased-desire Accessed: 30 July 2019
  16. Sex & Relationships: Libido At Menopause. Last Updated 04 February 2019 — Topic Updated 17 December 2017. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/sex Accessed: 30 July 2019
  17. Loss of Libido (Reduced Sex Drive): Common Causes of A Low Libido – Relationship Problems. Page Last Reviewed: 13 January 2017. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/loss-of-libido/#relationship-problems Accessed: 30 July 2019
  18. Libido: What Is Libido? Last Updated 09 May 2019 — Topic Updated 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
  19. Libido: Managing & Treating Low Libido – Testosterone Therapy. Last Updated 09 May 2019 — Topic Updated 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
  20. Low Sex Drive In Women: Diagnosis & Treatment – Treatment: Hormone Therapy. 15 February 2018. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sex-drive-in-women/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374561 Accessed: 30 July 2019
  21. Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Ever since my periods stopped, my desire for sex has decreased. Is this normal? North American Menopause Society http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-your-health-after-menopause Accessed: 30 July 2019
  22. Low Sex Drive In Women: Diagnosis & Treatment – Treatment. 15 February 2018. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sex-drive-in-women/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374561 Accessed: 30 July 2019
  23. Loss of Libido (Reduced Sex Drive): Introduction. Page Last Reviewed: 13 January 2017. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/loss-of-libido/ Accessed: 30 July 2019
  24. Sexual Health & Menopause Online: Steps Your Partner Can Take. North American Menopause Society http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/steps-your-partner-can-take Accessed: 30 July 2019
  25. Libido: Managing & Treating Low Libido – Seek Advice. Last Updated 09 May 2019 — Topic Updated 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/libido Accessed: 30 July 2019
Topic Last Updated: 30 July 2019 – Topic Last Reviewed: 30 July 2019
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