Sex is a commonly desired activity as it invokes positive feelings. However, low sex drive in women can sometimes prevent them from wanting or enjoying sex. If you find that you — or the woman in your life — lack libido, here are a few possible causes as well as solutions to them.
Causes of Low Sex Drive in Women and What to Do About It
There isn’t exactly a scale or test to find out if a woman’s libido level is normal or not. According to Dr. Risa Kagan, a gynecologist at Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, “What matters most is how you feel about your current libido and whether or not you want to change it.” (She said in her article on Sutter Health.)
However, sometimes, there are a few factors that can cause low sex drive in women — or lower than usual.
Habits and Lifestyle
Feeling the buzz and euphoric effects of alcohol can sometimes make a person want sex. However, when she gets too intoxicated, it can cause a low sex drive in women. Alcohol is a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant. When the CNS is affected, it can reduce a person’s usual dopamine and serotonin production — causing them to desire sex less.
Additionally, being inebriated can also affect an individual’s physical state. This, too, can make a woman not feel aroused even though they’re being physically stimulated.
Fixing alcohol-induced low sex drive in women is rather easy. If you’re drinking and you plan on having sex afterward, you can be mindful of your alcohol consumption. If you already feel somewhat of a buzz, you can take it easy and pace your drinking. However, even if sex won’t occur later on, one should still control their alcohol consumption, in general.
Drugs or medications can also cause low sex drive in women — especially when the medicine is abused (regardless if it’s prescribed or not). Most street drugs can also negatively impact a person’s physical and mental well-being — not just their libido. Even if the drug doesn’t directly affect a woman’s sex drive, other physical effects of the drug can affect their desire for sex.
If the drug or medication you’re taking is only prescribed to be taken for a certain duration, you can wait for a few days (or weeks — sometimes, even months) to see if your libido level is back. If it’s not the same as it was before, you can tell your physician about it; some antidepressants, anti-epileptic, blood pressure, and heart failure medications can cause low libido levels in women.
On the other hand, if the drugs are not prescribed, and are being abused, fixing your libido levels may have to be postponed — as it’s the least concerning effect of the substances you’re incorporating into your system. If drug abuse seems like a problem you feel that you have, you should talk to a physician about it.
Stopping drug abuse may be the obvious solution for this, however, if you’ve been abusing the substances for a while now, or if you’re taking high doses of the drugs, quitting cold turkey — especially without medical assistance — can cause you to have a seizure. Which can sometimes be fatal.
Unlike alcohol and drug use (and abuse), smoking tobacco doesn’t typically affect an individual’s perception and decisions on sex. However, the physical effects of nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco can cause low sex drive in women.
In a 2022 study published by the BJUI (or British Journal of Urology), it says that female tobacco smokers have lower libido levels than those who don’t smoke. The said reason for this is because of the decrease in estrogen production.
The only solution to this dilemma is to quit tobacco use. There are many smoking cessation programs for those who wish to quit smoking — some taper off their cigarette use, while some quit cold turkey. Furthermore, nicotine alternatives are available in the market — such as nicotine patches and nicotine gums.
Hormonal Contraceptive Pills
Hormonal contraceptive pills can prevent pregnancy, but they can also prevent some women from wanting or enjoying sex. The reason for this is pretty straightforward — these contraceptives alter the hormones.
Depending on the type or brand of hormonal contraceptive pills — and how a woman’s body responds to the medication — the effects of the contraceptives can be temporary. Your physician may advise that you wait for a few months before your libido levels go back to normal. But some doctors may prescribe you alternative contraceptives if your sex life is affected.
Women who have gone through menopause may find that their sex drive has drastically decreased. This is also because of the lack of estrogen and testosterone production. Some menopausal women who engage in sexual activity also find sex to be painful — because of the lack of lubrication production.
If your menopausal symptoms are negatively affecting your sex life, you can talk to your doctor about this. Some menopausal women undergo hormonal therapy. However, your treatment options are still your physician’s call — they know what is best for you.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Pregnant and breastfeeding women commonly have a low sex drive. Beyond the physical aches and pains — as well as exhaustion — pregnancy and breast milk production can make a woman’s hormones go haywire. In a TheBump.com article, Dr. Heather Bartos (an OB-Gyn based in Texas) explained, “Many women’s sex drives change not only after baby, but while breastfeeding too—and for a multitude of reasons.”
“Plus, levels of testosterone are also lower in breastfeeding women,” the physician added. Furthermore, there’s a significant production increase in the hormone prolactin among pregnant and breastfeeding women. When this happens, the estrogen production is depleted.
There isn’t much to do when it comes to low sex drive in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding besides waiting for their hormones to return to normal or for their energy levels to recover.
Mental Health Problems
There are many types of mental health problems that can cause low sex drive in women. Sometimes, it can be as common as stress or anxiety in their everyday lives. However, sometimes, it can be so crippling, that a mental health expert has to be sought.
If you need a simple break from your work life — or life, in general — you can practice breathing exercises or meditation. On the other hand, if you feel as though these techniques don’t work, you can also seek professional help to help you get through your stressors or triggers — especially if your low sex drive is causing a strain in your relationship or marriage.
Low sex drive in women is a common condition. However, “regular” sex drive levels vary per woman. If you suffer from this, ask yourself if you’re dealing with some of the listed common causes above. If you find the need to fix your libido levels, it’s best that you do it under the supervision of your physician. On the other hand, if it’s your partner who’s suffering from a low sex drive, be patient and understanding towards her — never criticize or shame her for it.
Lastly, alcohol, drugs, and mental health conditions can impair your judgment towards sex. This can make you more vulnerable to a plethora of potential problems — such as injuries, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and unfortunately, sometimes, this can also make a woman more susceptible to sexual abuse.
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