Low Libido in Women: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Alicia Wooldridge, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
July 21, 2022

It is natural for everyone’s sexual drive and libido to fluctuate throughout their lives.

Some people find that they desire more sexual activity as they age, while others find their libido decreasing as they get older.

People with vaginas may find that their sex drive constantly changes depending on their hormone levels, menstrual cycle, lifestyle, and other internal and external factors. 

In this article, we’ll explore the main symptoms of low libido and low sex drive in women and those who identify as women.

We’ll also look at what causes low libido and what treatment options are available to help increase libido when desired. 

Symptoms of Low Libido in Women

It can be frustrating and stressful to experience low libido when you don’t know what is causing it or know how to manage it.

However, low libido is an extremely common condition and quite healthy.

In recent years more than 60% of cohabiting couples in the United States have expressed a reduction in sexual desire. 

Knowing what symptoms to look for will help you identify whether you have low libido. 

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No or low interest in sexual activities

This includes masturbation, kissing, foreplay, penetrative and non-penetrative sex, and the stimulation of body parts. 

No or low interest in sex 

If you do not think about sex or have not thought about sexual activity in a long time, you might have low libido.

If you do not have sexual fantasies, have no thoughts about sex, or are unable to find another person or yourself attractive in a sexual manner, you may have low libido. 

No or low pleasure from sexual activity

If you find that participating in sexual activities does not provide you pleasure or make you uncomfortable, it could be a symptom of low libido.

This includes sexual activities that are causing you pain or no sensation at all. 

Feelings of dissatisfaction and stress in relation to sexual activity

If thoughts of or physical acts of sexual activity make you uncomfortable or cause you anxiety, then you may have a low libido. 

Causes of Low Libido in Women

Low libido is a natural fact of life and happens to almost everyone.

There is often an identifiable cause or reason for a decrease in sexual appetite. 

Physical causes

Certain ailments, chronic conditions, and physical changes can lead to low libido.

If you have recently had surgery, have been in an accident, or have injured yourself, then this can be a reason for a change in sexual desire.

Some ailments and their treatments like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer can lead to low libido. 

Some medications like antidepressants, hormonal contraceptive birth control pills, steroids, and antihistamines can also affect libido.

If your body is tired, both mentally and physically, you might not be in the mood for sexual activity.

Your lifestyle habits, for example, alcohol consumption and tobacco, can lead to low sex drive and erectile dysfunction

Hormone changes

Pregnancy and menopause cause hormonal changes in your body which can change sexual desires.

Pregnant and breastfeeding people tend to be more tired, and the sexual appetite of both partners is commonly affected during this time. 

When nearing menopause, the body’s estrogen levels drop, causing a lower libido and making sexual activity uncomfortable or even painful due to vaginal dryness.

This can affect premenopausal and postmenopausal women too. 

Other causes of hormonal imbalance include illnesses like depression, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and diabetes.

If you notice the below additional signs of a hormonal imbalance or changes in hormones, seek medical guidance.

Psychological causes

Your mental health and well-being play a crucial role in determining your sexual desires and libido.

Someone with low self-esteem and poor body image can struggle with feeling unattractive which can affect intimacy with their partner.

Anxiety, depression, and previous sexual encounters that leave a negative impression in a person’s mind can result in low libido. 

If you are suffering from or have suffered from sexual trauma or abuse, seek medical help immediately. 

Relationship issues

Many people find that they need a strong emotional bond with their partner before they can indulge in sexual activity.

If there is a disconnect in the relationship, arguments, poor communication, or any unresolved conflicts, libido may remain low until the issues are resolved. 

Diagnosis

To get a diagnosis about the cause or reason for your low libido, you will need to consult a medical practitioner.

They will ask you some questions about your lifestyle and sexual history.

It is important that you are completely honest about this to receive an accurate diagnosis.

You may also be asked to undergo certain physical examinations and tests, including:

  • A pelvic exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Thyroid function tests

Treatment

It is important not to let low sex drive frustrate you even further – especially since there are plenty of treatment options and ways to overcome this today. 

Sex education and counseling

Many people find talking therapy and counseling to be effective solutions for low sexual desires.

This is useful when there are relationship issues or psychological causes for low libido.

Your medical professional may be able to suggest some exercises for you to do by yourself or as a couple.

They will also help you to resolve any pending conflicts. 

Since intimacy issues like sexual performance and low libido go beyond the scope of what you would normally discuss with your healthcare provider, you may need to consult someone who is more experienced in sexual health.

They may want to speak to each partner alone or as a couple.

Many also help people overcome their fears and biases regarding sexual activity. 

Medication

Disclose to your medical professional any medications you are on so that they can monitor if the side effects are causing your low libido.

They may want to switch their prescribed medications or change the dosage accordingly. 

Certain drugs such as Flibanserin and Bremalanotide can be prescribed to treat low libido.

All medications should be taken only after consultation with a healthcare provider. 

Hormone therapy

If hormonal changes cause your low libido, then your medical provider will prescribe hormonal therapies and drugs to help balance or increase certain hormones in your body.

You will need to undergo some tests to check estrogen and testosterone levels in the body.

You may be prescribed ospemifene or dehydroepiandrosterone to help treat low libido and vaginal dryness. 

Other ways to regulate your hormones and entice sexual desire include:

  • Going on holiday, taking a break from stressful activities, and distracting yourself from daily routine
  • Maintaining a healthy relationship and open, honest communication with your partner
  • Going for a massage or spa day to relax

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When to Seek Medical Attention

Remember that there is no fixed benchmark or required amount of libido that you need.

Each person’s sexual appetite and desire are different, and it is healthy for it to fluctuate and change throughout your life.

Many couples and people in relationships find that they do not require constant sexual activity and find other ways to be intimate and build a bond. 

However, if your low sex drive is a cause of concern for you and is proving to be a hindrance to your relationship and lifestyle, then seek medical attention.

If you previously were able to feel and experience sexual pleasure in sexual activities and now find that it is unpleasant or painful then consult a medical expert for guidance. 

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? If your lower sex drive or lack of interest in sex is affecting your life or relationship, then our team of experts can help you navigate this.

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and, if needed, text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can a woman do for low libido?
You can improve your libido by exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet. You may need to limit stressful factors in your life and look for ways to relax. If your low libido does not improve, speak to a healthcare professional.
What are the symptoms of low libido?
Some symptoms of low libido include: Lack of or no interest in sexual activity Tiredness and fatigue Inability to initiate sexual activity Limited or no sexual thoughts or fantasies Dissatisfaction with sexual activity Inability to feel pleasure during sexual activity
What vitamins will increase a woman's libido?
Certain vitamins and supplements are known to increase a woman’s libido. However, these should only be taken after consulting a healthcare professional. Some of these include vitamins E, A, C, and B. Magnesium, Tribulus, ginseng, selenium, and zinc supplements may also be prescribed by a healthcare expert.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Alicia Wooldridge, MD

Dr. Alicia Wooldridge is a board certified Family Medicine physician with over a decade of experience.