If you’d rather curl up with a whodunnit or watch Seinfeld reruns than make love, you’re not alone. Many women lose their sex drive — at any age. Sometimes the change is temporary, such as during the stresses of child-rearing or relationship trauma. Other times it’s merely a matter of physiology. You may be less interested in having sex as your hormones change.
If you’re unhappy that you’re experiencing a loss of libido, try to identify the cause. Then, you can try appropriate methods to reignite your inner fire.
What Causes Loss of Libido?
Your sex drive can decrease for many different reasons, and the cause is often complex. Still, the brain is the No. 1 sex organ for women, so start there when trying to identify the source.
- The brain makes hormones in the hypothalamus. If the balance of hormones you produce changes, your libido might increase or decrease.
- If you’re fighting with your partner, or feeling bitter about housework being divided unevenly, that can make your desire plummet.
- If you have a baby or small children, you might be “touched out.” After having little ones on your body throughout the daylight hours, you might want to remain untouched once they’re tucked in for the night.
- If you’ve been abused in the past, sexually or otherwise, your brain may react even years later by tamping down your sex drive.
- Depression is a libido-slasher, and so are less extreme emotional challenges such as body-image issues.
The other component of why your sex drive has decreased is strictly physical. This, too, can be complex.
- “Vaginismus” causes the entrance of the vagina to close up, usually out of a fear of penetration. If that happens regularly, you may stop wanting to try and ultimately might not want to have intimate relations at all.
- Medications you take for other issues can cause side effects, including lower sex drive.
- Sometimes childbirth or surgery can lead to scars or other causes of painful intercourse, and that might affect your desire.
- Breastfeeding lowers progesterone and estrogen, which can lead to a lower libido and vaginal dryness.
- Vaginal dryness from other causes can be a culprit, too. You won’t self-lubricate if you’re not aroused enough, so prolong foreplay until your body is ready for penetration. And, post-menopausal women often produce less natural lubricant than they did in younger years.
- Vaginal atrophy refers to the vagina’s walls getting thinner, drier or even inflamed, usually after menopause. If you have vaginal atrophy, the thought of penetration may be a turnoff.
How To Rev Up Your Sex Drive
While reading a steamy romance or watching a provocative movie might help you get aroused, that’s a short-term solution — although not a bad one. Depending on your situation, one or more of these other solutions might help you get back in the groove long-term.
- Bring toys into the bedroom. While some women feel desire spontaneously, others need to be sexually aroused before wanting to make love. If that’s your situation, try using a small, gentle vibrator on or near your clitoris; the stimulation might lead you to want more.
- Talk therapy. Alone or with your partner, talk to a regular or sex mental health counselor. Those conversations may lead you to understand what’s holding you back emotionally.
- Hormone therapy. Low testosterone might cause you to desire sex less often. You can take supplements, but the medical community is still studying what the side effects might be. Low estrogen can also be the culprit. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons and tinkering with your levels.
- Make lifestyle adjustments. Start small. Exercise regularly. Eat more healthful foods. Set up a weekly date night with your partner, creating time to enjoy one another’s company outside the home. Try relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation or even getting massages if it’s in the budget.
What Medications Will Boost My Sex Drive?
If you’ve gone to therapy, addressed the physical challenges and attempted in tandem for you and your partner to meet each other’s emotional needs, go the pharmaceutical route. While it’s always nice to try to exhaust the natural methods first, you can try medications that are on the market.
Some drugs claim to boost women’s sex drive, including a pill called flibanserin and an injection called bremelanotide. They work for certain women but not most. You’re most likely to benefit if you’re on the younger side — not yet even in perimenopause — and free of any obvious relationship, psychological or physical cause. The medications are marketed as the be all and end all, but most gynecologists find that these options help only a small segment of their patients.
Help is available. If your sex drive is missing in action, figure out the emotional and physical causes, and then take action to address them. You’ll be back in the groove soon enough.
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