There are two types of sexual desire: spontaneous and responsive. Spontaneous desire, depicted in movies, is the internal arousal or interest in sex that seems to come out of thin air. Responsive desire is when desure shows up in response to stimulation, meaning foreplay or something sexy happens and the body responds.
In long-term relationships, responsive desire tends to be more prevalent. It's common to question ourselves when the initial spontaneous desire wanes, but this shift is entirely normal.
Nevertheless, for some women, a lack of desire can be a source of distress and frustration. Diminished sexual desire, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), is a medical condition characterized by decreased or absent spontaneous or responsive sexual desire (i.e., sexual thoughts or fantasies) associated with negative emotional states and personal distress. HSDD is the most common sexual dysfunction in women.
Causes of low desire:
When consulting a healthcare provider about this concern, they will explore all these aspects. We understand that HSDD can significantly impact self-esteem, relationships, and overall quality of life. The initial step is collaborating with your physician to understand what might be causing low desire and advocating for yourself.
Relationship issues, poor body image, and a history of trauma can all contribute to decreased desire, warranting an interdisciplinary approach beyond the OBGYN's office.
Your sexual journey isn't over.
Several treatment options can help increase sexual desire. Addyi (flibanserin), Vyleesi (bremelanotide), and testosterone therapy are noteworthy choices.
An FDA-approved medication, Addyi works by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Studies show it increases the frequency of satisfying sexual events and decreases the distress associated with HSDD.
Vyleesi, a self-administered injectable medication, enhances sexual desire by increasing melanocortin levels, a hormone involved in sexual response.
For women with HSDD, especially those experiencing decreased testosterone levels post-menopause, testosterone therapy is a potential option. It can help boost sexual desire and enhance overall sexual function.
Let's discuss intimacy.
It's crucial for women to open up to their healthcare providers about their sexual concerns and seek treatment if necessary. HSDD is a treatable condition, and the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH) encourages women to actively participate in their sexual health. With the right approach and treatments, women can rekindle their sexual desire and experience a more fulfilling sex life. If your provider isn't comfortable discussing these topics, seek an ISSWSH physician.