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Low Sex Drive In Women

What Types Of Treatments Are Available?

Last updated on:
09/01/2013

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

 

If you suspect that you may be suffering from low sex drive, the first step is to visit your doctor, to ensure that a medical problem is not to blame for your low sex drive.

Your doctor may identify a medical problem even if you do not realize that one exists. For example, what may seem like depression or anxiety could stem from a hormonal imbalance, vitamin deficiency, or other medical problem.

If your physician rules out a medical problem, it may be wise to seek the advice of a mental health professional.

Nice To Know:

Use this checklist to determine what factors may be linked to your low sex drive:

  • Are you tired almost all of the time?
  • When you think about sex, do you feel angry, anxious, or guilty?
  • Have you recently (in the past year) experienced a stressful life event, such as a change of job, financial troubles, a move, a new baby, or loss of a loved one?
  • Do you have a quiet, comfortable place where you can have sex undisturbed?
  • Are you and your sexual partner having serious difficulty with your relationship?

If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, these factors could be influencing your sex drive. Some issues can be resolved by talking the situation over with your partner, while others may require more specialized treatments.

Counseling

You may find that a psychologist or therapist can help you identify and examine underlying problems in your life.

To find a qualified mental health professional, look for the following educational criteria:

  • Advanced degree, such as M.D. (psychiatrist) or Ph.D. (psychologist)
  • M.S.W. (social worker), M.A. or M.S. (marital and family therapist or nurse), or M.F.C. (marriage and family counselor)

Check with clinics, universities, hospitals, medical schools, or social agencies, or ask for a referral from a university department of psychology.

Sex Therapy

If the medical examination reveals no problems and a psychologist or therapist finds no underlying issues that should be addressed, it may be wise to consider seeing a sex therapist. Sex therapists have special training in dealing with issues related to sexual health.

Need To Know:

Sex therapists should not be confused with sex surrogates. Unlike sex surrogates, therapists do not engage in sexual relations with their patients.

To find a sex therapist, look for experts with:

  • Experience working with couples dealing with sexual problems
  • Training in the treatment of sexual function

During therapy sessions, couples discuss their relationship and sexuality. Treatment involves identifying and modifying the emotions responsible for the problem, like guilt and fear, and teaching the couple better responsiveness techniques.

Nice To Know:

A sex therapist may assign "homework" exercises geared at improving sexual communication and intimacy. These may include "sensate focus" exercises, in which couples lovingly touch each other but do not engage in sexual intercourse. They take turns caressing each other's body, teaching and learning how to give and receive pleasure. Eventually, once they feel ready, the exercise progresses to direct genital stimulation and then intercourse.

The woman may also need to take time to get to know her own body and find out what truly stimulates her. Once she understands her own body, she can better instruct her partner in what pleases her.

Medication

Many women experience lowered sex drive as a result of physical discomfort within the vagina. Often after menopause, vaginal tissue becomes more sensitive and is prone to soreness during and after intercourse. If sufficient lubrication is the problem, lubricants such as K-Y Jelly or Replens can often make sex more comfortable.

Premarin, which is prescribed by a doctor, is an estrogen cream that may help rebuild thinning vaginal walls and also improve moisture. Ogen (estrone) and Estrace (estradiol) are two other similar vaginal creams available.

Some postmenopausal women may also have low sex drive from lack of the male hormone testosterone. While it is strange to think of women lacking testosterone, women do produce this hormone, although in much smaller quantities than men. It is sometimes called androgen and is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands.

Some doctors prescribe testosterone creams or a pill which combines testosterone and estrogen, to bring back a woman's sex drive after menopause. While testosterone treatments have been shown to be effective for many women, they have also been controversial because of several unpleasant side effects, such as:

  • Acne
  • Facial hair
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Emotional mood swings

Nice To Know:

Some women find that the ginseng herb ginseng helps improve libido. Ginseng has also been shown to be effective in reducing feelings of stress and fatigue. It is available at pharmacies and health-food stores.

 
 
 

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.