Low sexual desire in women
By Anna Ling
Dear Ate Anna,
I have been married for several years. My husband and I only have sex once in a while. It wasn’t like that when we first got married, but Ate Anna, I am just not that interested in having sex anymore. I wonder if I am normal. How can I increase my energy and interest in sex?
It is normal for women to experience varying levels of sex drive at different times in their lives. When women first get married, the sexual attraction and desire for sex is strong. With time, when sex becomes more familiar and routine, the initial excitement is lost and the frequency of sex often decreases.
Susan, you wonder if you are normal because of your low sex drive. The experts acknowledge that it is difficult to define what is normal and what is not. It varies from woman to woman and it cannot be measured by frequency of sex. For example, if sex is not a high priority for either you or your husband and if both of you are not bothered by having sex only once in a while, this is normal for you. As well, if both of you feel satisfied with your relationship, you may have a much stronger emotional bond than many couples. Consequently, less frequent sex may not be an issue.
So what exactly is low sex drive in women? According to the medical definition, a woman has hypoactive (low) sexual desire disorder if she has a persistent or recurrent lack of interest in sex that causes personal distress. In other words, if the absent or low desire to have sex causes a problem in your relationship, or if you are dissatisfied by your level of desire for sex, you may need to get some medical help.
Susan, a woman’s desire for sex is very complex. It depends on many factors such as physical well being, emotional well being, lifestyle, and relationship issues. If a woman experiences problems in any of these areas it can affect her sexual desire. Following are some common causes for low sexual desire in women:
Many women notice varying levels of interest in sex at different times in their menstrual cycle. Many also notice a decrease in sex drive when they go through life changes such as pregnancy and menopause. This is due to fluctuations in hormone levels. The drop in estrogen (female sex hormone) levels during menopause can cause dryness in the vagina making sex uncomfortable. This results in a decreased interest in sex for some women.
Medication and illness
Some of the medications that women take for depression, high blood pressure, or heart conditions, and even antihistamines can diminish sex drive. Birth control pills can also lower a woman’s sex drive. Illnesses including arthritis, diabetes or cancer, and other neurological diseases can affect desire for sex.
Stress and fatigue
Family stress such as exhaustion from caring for young children or aging parents, work stress or financial stress can contribute to low sex drive. Lack of sleep is one of the most common reasons for lack of interest in sex and it affects both men and women of all ages.
For many women, the feeling of intimacy or emotional closeness with their partner or husband is essential before they want sex or are willing to have sex. So, problems in the relationship such as anger, unresolved conflicts, lack of connection, infidelity or poor communication regarding sexual needs can contribute to low sex drive.
Susan, there is no simple way to increase a woman’s sex drive. First of all, talk to your doctor to check for any underlying health conditions and medication that may be causing your low sexual desire. Some experts suggest that a healthy lifestyle can enhance sex drive: regular exercise and strength training can increase your stamina, improve body image and elevate your mood; reduce stress and make time for leisure and relaxation; get more sleep; try to have a positive outlook on life.
Also, communicating with your husband in an open and honest way is important. Talk about what feels good and pleasurable to you. This can increase your emotional connection with your husband, which can lead to better sexual intimacy. Rekindle your romance by setting a special date with your husband. Be willing to put fun back into your relationship or to try different sexual positions. This may also increase your mood and desire. If the lack of interest in sex is due to unresolved relationship issues with your husband, talking to a counsellor can help.
Ate Anna hopes that you will find some of these suggestions helpful. But remember; do not compare your sex life to someone else’s standard. If you and your husband feel good about your sexual relationship as it is, you do not have a problem.