Question: Is low libido unusual?
A healthy sex drive is something most women want. But approximately 30 percent deal with a decreased libido at some point in their lives. Many women are too embarrassed to talk about it or just don’t think it’s a big enough deal to discuss with their doctors.
Keep these four points in mind:
1. Lack of libido isn’t a one-factor issue
“Women in general can take on too much and expect too much of themselves,” Dr. Simone said. “Finding balance and prioritizing self-care is an important part of addressing libido issues.”
If you’re dealing with low sex drive, contributing factors can include:
- Lack of sleep
- Medications and supplements
- Lack of nonsexual intimacy in the relationship
Libido isn’t a light switch that can easily be turned on and off. If you’re a new mother, the postpartum period especially can be a trying time due to lack of sleep, lack of help around the house, self-confidence issues and anxiety.
2. Low libido may not actually be the issue
The mainstream introduction of libido therapies for men has made it easy for men to “fix” many age-related sexual health issues through testosterone therapy or Viagra.
Dr. Grade argues that because of this, “women may experience even more guilt and stress for feeling like they can’t match that same sex drive or ‘fix’ the same problem. It’s a false comparison.”
Low libido also can be a side effect of an overall unhealthy lifestyle. In the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock gains weight by eating fast food. He starts feeling depressed and loses his sex drive.
If your desk job has you sitting most of the day, or you’re grabbing fast food on the way to soccer practice, focus on making healthier lifestyle choices. That may boost your libido.
3. Many misconceptions surround hormone replacement therapy
Your OB/Gyn might suggest testosterone. You may have heard that hormone replacement therapy leads to serious adverse health effects, including cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, but this isn’t necessarily true.
Practitioners today use bioidentical hormones that may not carry the same risks. Subsequent studies have shown that some of the possible issues, such as an increased cardiovascular risk, can be mitigated with regular exercise.
This doesn’t mean that hormone replacement therapy is totally risk-free. The decision to use hormones as part of a treatment plan for low libido needs to be an educated one you make with your doctor.
4. A relationship with your doctor is important
While your well-woman exam may not be something you look forward to, it’s an important part of your overall healthcare. Telling your gynecologist that you’re experiencing problems can open a helpful dialogue.
To get the most out of your visit:
- Write down your questions beforehand. This will ensure that you won’t forget important issues you want to discuss.
- It may take two to three visits to address all your questions. If you have topics you want to discuss at length, it may be helpful to schedule a “question visit” instead of trying to squeeze everything in during your wellness exam.
- Be open-minded. Listen to your healthcare provider and review all of the possible options presented. This lets you work together to make the right choices for you.
- Bottom line: If you’re experiencing low libido, various treatment options are available. Making an appointment with your gynecologist to discuss your questions and concerns is the first step.
Patricia Grade, M.D., and Jennifer Simone, M.D., independent OB/GYNs affiliated with HonorHealth, offer valuable information about a common topic.