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BellaOnline's Gynecology Editor

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Low Libido in Women

Guest Author - Linda Reid

Until recently, not a lot of effort was expended on research regarding female sexual dysfunction (FSD) (also known as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Most treatment was limited to counselling and it was not uncommon for a woman to approach her doctor about low libido and be told that there was no treatment available. While most women have a strong emotional component attached to sexual desire this doesnít negate the fact that many women miss the urges that were present when they were younger, and that there is a physical element to the degree of sexual drive in women, just as there is in men.

What Can Lower Libido

There are a number of factors that can lower libido in women. It has been said that, for women, their brain is their most important sexual organ. Emotions play such a considerable role in the desire for sex that factors such as stress over money, relationship problems, family problems, work-related concerns and other issues can cause the sex drive to decrease significantly.

Having a hysterectomy can greatly diminish sex drive. Removal of the ovaries which produce hormones that aid desire, and removal of the uterus which may cause a decrease in the intensity of orgasms or even eliminate orgasms completely can contribute to loss of libido. Most physicians do not discuss this disheartening consequence with their patients. It is important to consider options to having a hysterectomy, if they are viable.

Sometimes, intercourse is painful. This may be a result of: lower estrogen levels due to menopause or childbirth, causing vaginal dryness and irritation; disorders such as cysts and fibroids; and physical abnormalities such as vaginal prolapse. Involuntary pain is not conducive to sexual desire.

Many women lose interest in sex after they have a child. Sleepless nights, busy days and preoccupation with all things baby can send thoughts of intimacy out the proverbial window.

Depression can play a major role in loss of sexual desire. If a woman is having difficulty finding the energy to function, sex becomes a distant memory in the struggle to maintain a daily existence.

Medications such as some antidepressants, blood-pressure medicine, chemotherapy drugs, oral contraceptives, and alcohol may diminish sexual desire.

Treatment

Clinical studies have shown that increasing testosterone levels in menopausal women has resulted in increased libido. However, this treatment isnít for everyone as some unpleasant side-effects may occur, including, developing facial hair and a change in the voice, both of which are irreversible. As well, high testosterone levels may cause increased muscle mass, enlargement of the clitoris, acne and increased perspiration. Women using testosterone must be closely monitored by their physician. Testosterone is not recommended for women who are not experiencing menopause.

Dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA is a male hormone produced by the adrenal gland and ovaries and converted to testosterone and estrogen. This hormone, which depletes with age, can be purchased in supplement form in the U.S but is banned in Australia, Canada and Britain. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (September 30, 1999) reported that women taking 50 mg a day of DHEA reported a substantial increase in their sexual drive. However, as the recommended daily dose is only 25 mg and because of the potential for heart attacks and breast cancer, and masculating side-effects similar to those of testosterone, it is recommended that DHEA only be used while under a doctorís supervision.

L-Arginine amino acid cream is an amino acid used by athletes to promote muscle development. Informal studies have shown that more than half the women tested that applied the cream to the genital area reported increased arousal and more intense orgasms. L-Arginine amino acid cream and supplements can be found in health food stores and is sold online as a sexual enhancement product.
Bupropion hydrochloride sustained-release tablets (brand name Wellbutrin) and flibanserin are both anti-depressants that have demonstrated increased sexual arousal in premenopausal women. This may be of benefit to women suffering from depression and taking SSRIís, most of which, currently on the market cause varying degrees of sexual disinterest. As well, it may be of benefit for women that are suffering from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder as psychotherapy has had limited results for treatment of this syndrome.

Another Option

Men and women are very different in their sexual needs and responses. It can take much longer for a woman to reach an orgasmic stage. An impatient partner or a disappointing sex life will contribute greatly to loss of sexual desire. While it is possible for a woman to achieve orgasm with intercourse alone, it is usually through manual stimulation of the clitoris that orgasm is achieved. Our society is woefully inadequate in teaching children and young adults about female sexual response and consequently many men and women have no understanding of it. Learning what works and teaching a partner what is needed to achieve arousal can be helpful and, if necessary, there are therapists that specialize in this subject and many books have been written on this topic, as well. Ultimately it comes down to knowing what feels good and communicating this to a partner. Sexual satisfaction is a personal responsibility and plays an important part in the health of a relationship.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Linda Reid. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Linda Reid. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dr. Denise Howard for details.

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