You’ve come a long way, baby…but it can still be awkward to talk about sexual desire.
If you’re like most women, you may wonder whether your libido is normal but feel uncomfortable asking your doctor or even discussing it with your partner.
Well—wonder no more. Take this quiz to find out if you’re in the know about women’s libido…
Your gynecologist can tell you if your libido is normal for your age.
Everyone's sex drive is different, so there's no such thing as a “normal” libido. If you are troubled by a persistent or recurrent lack of desire, you may have a condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD (chronic lack of interest in sex), which is the most common sexual complaint among women. And while there are lots of treatments available, it’s unfortunately not as easy as popping the little pink pill—also known as Addyi (flibanserin), an FDA-approved treatment for HSDD. Talk to your family physician or gynecologist about your options for treatment.
Each woman's sexual desire naturally fluctuates over the years.
The highs and lows of sexual desire commonly coincide with the beginning or end of a relationship…or with other major life changes, such as pregnancy, menopause or illness. In general, sex drive decreases gradually with age in both men and women. However, women are two to three times more likely to experience a decline in sex drive as they age. While some women experience a big dip in sexual desire beginning in their 40s and 50s, others may notice no change…and a few may even experience more interest in sex than they had when they were younger. Why? It could be that the women with increased desire feel a sense of liberation because they no longer need to worry about contraception and they have more privacy once their children have left home.
A low libido can result from being in a long-term relationship—even if you still love your partner deeply.
The predictability of a long-term sexual relationship can douse the flames of desire. If this occurs, a woman’s flagging libido may not bother her, but it can become a problem because it frustrates her partner and threatens to weaken their relationship.
What helps? Finding new—and mutually appealing—ways to keep the passion alive in your relationship. Discussing the problem with your partner is the first step. If you need some coaching on how to do this, your family physician may be able to offer some tips or refer you to a sex therapist for advice. (To find a sex therapist near you, consult the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.)
Vaginismus is a type of exercise that enhances sexual desire in women.
Vaginismus is a condition that puts the brakes on sexual intercourse. A woman whose vaginal muscles involuntarily tighten when penetration (during sex or pelvic exam) is attempted is said to have this condition. The cause depends on the woman but may be related to a traumatic event, surgery or a life change such as menopause. In some cases, vaginismus may occur after years of pleasurable intercourse. To treat the condition, women can use vaginal dilators of varying sizes to gradually become comfortable with (and enjoy) vaginal penetration.
Low libido is always due to a mental or an emotional issue (like a loss of trust in your partner).
Low sex drive certainly can be caused by emotional issues, but it’s not uncommon for a physical problem to make sex difficult or unfulfilling. For example, low sex drive can be the result of vaginal dryness, painful sex or an inability to orgasm. Lots of people experience problems with their sex drive, and seeing a doctor to rule out a physical cause should be the first step toward resolving the issue.
Vaginal dryness occurs only in older women.
Vaginal dryness can occur at any age, but it is particularly common during and after menopause. The good news is that this problem is treatable. If you're having problems with vaginal dryness, try using a lubricant or vaginal moisturizer, which can be purchased without a prescription. See your doctor for advice if self-help measures aren't effective…if your symptoms are particularly severe and interfere with your normal activities…or if you have other troublesome symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Antidepressant medications normally increase a woman’s sex drive, so they are often prescribed to treat low libido.
Some medications, including antidepressants and blood pressure medications, have sexual side effects that include low libido. If you're bothered by your weak (or nonexistent) desire for sex, talk to your doctor. The solution could be as simple as changing the type of antidepressant you take. Some antidepressants, including bupropion (Wellbutrin) and vilazodone (Viibryd), tend to have the least sexual side effects.
It’s normal to be bothered by your low libido.
This is a bit of a trick question…because it’s also normal not to be bothered by low libido. For many women, diminished desire is a source of distress, lessening their satisfaction with life and changing their sense of sexuality and self. For others—especially during and after menopause—a gradual decline in sexual desire does not have an important impact on their overall sexuality and quality of life.