Low sex drive in women, also known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) or female sexual interest/arousal disorder, is a common sexual health concern. It can have both physical and psychological causes, and it's essential to approach it with sensitivity and open communication. Here are some common factors that can contribute to a low sex drive in women:
- Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as during menopause, pregnancy, or while breastfeeding, can lead to a decrease in libido.
- Stress and Mental Health: High levels of stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues can reduce sexual desire. Addressing these underlying issues through therapy or stress management techniques can help.
- Relationship Problems: Conflicts or unresolved issues in a relationship can lead to a low sex drive. Effective communication and couples counseling can help address these concerns.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants and birth control pills, can affect sexual desire as a side effect. It's important to discuss these effects with a healthcare provider.
- Physical Health Issues: Chronic illnesses, fatigue, pain during sex, or other physical health issues can decrease libido. Treating these conditions may help improve sexual desire.
- Lack of Self-esteem: Negative body image and low self-esteem can also impact a woman's sexual desire. Promoting self-confidence and a positive self-image can be beneficial.
- Cultural and Societal Factors: Societal and cultural factors can play a role in how women perceive their sexuality. It's essential to challenge unrealistic expectations and body image standards.
- Lifestyle Factors: An unhealthy lifestyle, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, or excessive alcohol and drug use, can negatively affect sexual desire.
Treatment options for low sex drive can vary depending on the underlying cause. Consulting a healthcare provider, gynecologist, or therapist can help diagnose and address the issue appropriately. Treatments may include therapy, hormone therapy (if hormonal imbalances are the cause), lifestyle changes, or counseling for relationship issues. Open and honest communication between partners is crucial in addressing and resolving low sex drive in women, as it often involves multiple factors that need to be considered and discussed together.
In this blog, we will discuss how stress and mental health and Physical Health Issues, including pelvic floor dysfunction contribute to low libido in women.
How Stress and Mental Health affect libido and sex drive in women
Stress and Mental Health:
Stress, anxiety, and depression can make it challenging to focus on or enjoy sexual activities.
Stress, anxiety, and depression also can result in physical symptoms such as fatigue, muscle tension, and headaches, which can reduce interest in sex.
Often, women carry much or most of the mental load in households, which can increase stress and reduce desire for sex.
Strategies to reduce stress and improve libido:
Diaphragmatic breathing focusing on a longer exhale. A recent study showed that just 5 minutes of deep breathing per day can significantly improve stress response and mental health.
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Try inhaling for 5 seconds, then exhaling for a count of 10. If this is hard for you, you probably need some core and pelvic floor help! Our ability to breathe is a direct reflection of how well our core is working! Breath work changes your nervous system which can change your low libido.
- Speak your needs. If you’re in a safe relationship, tell your partner explicitly what you need. Don’t expect them to know ANYTHING. For me, this has been a game-changer. I give direct, specific instructions like, “can you cut up the mushrooms and peppers for our omelets tomorrow while you cook dinner.” Often I think we expect partners to just know and when they don’t we carry the load unnecessarily. Communication is key to reduce stress for improvements in libido.
- Exercise. Studies show that regular exercise should be the first line of defense for stress reduction and management of anxiety and depression. If exercise causes pain or pelvic floor problems, hit us up! We can help you find the best exercise for you to improve your low libido. (opens in a new tab)
How Physical Health Issues affect low libido in women:
Physical Health Issues such as chronic illnesses, fatigue, pain during sex, or other physical health issues can decrease libido. Even changes in pelvic floor function including pelvic floor muscle weakness can cause sexual dysfunction and low libido. There was a small study in 2017 that showed a correlation between sexual dysfunction in women undergoing cancer treatment and pelvic floor weakness. 64.3% of these women had sexual dysfunction and that dysfunction was related to poor pelvic floor muscle endurance and strength. Pelvic floor muscle weakness can be related to low libido in women!
Strategies to address physical health conditions and improve low libido:
If you have pain with sex, see a pelvic floor Physical therapist for Pelvic floor therapy.
If you have chronic fatigue, see a functional medicine provider and make sure exercise is a part of your routine! (annoying conundrum, I know)
If you have a weak pelvic floor, see a pelvic floor PT to see if you have pelvic floor weakness. Chances are, if you’ve had a baby at any time or are pregnant, your pelvic floor is most likely tight and weak, which can contribute to low libido.
Schedule sex. If you are working on your physical health you can still prioritize improving your sex drive. Scheduling sex does not sound sexy, but putting it on the schedule can help some people to look forward to it, plan for it, and can improve blood flow to the pelvic floor, which can improve sex drive. If this doesn’t work for you, it’s a great sign that you need additional strategies and tactics to improve your low libido. We can help with this!
If you want to improve your libido our pelvic floor therapists at Resilient Motherhood can help. We take an integrative approach that incorporates mental health challenges that get people results when no one else can. If you want expert guidance in improving low libido and increasing sex drive, book a free consult with us virtually, in Wexford, PA, or Greensburg, PA.
1. Balban MY, Neri E, Kogon MM, et al. Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal. Cell Rep Med. 2023;4(1):100895.
2. Albanaz da Conceição TM, Da Roza T, dos Santos KM, Tonon da Luz SC, Medeiros da Luz C. Pelvic floor muscles contraction and sexual function are associated with hormonal treatment in women after breast cancer? Manual Therapy, Posturology & Rehabilitation Journal. 2017;15:1-5. doi:10.17784/mtprehabjournal.2017.15.462