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Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: Low Sexual Drive

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a common sexual difficulty where people have low sexual desire or drive.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) said it can be experienced by both sexes, although it’s more prevalent among women.

Individuals with HSDD lack interest in sex, though they get aroused and may orgasm when they do have sex.

Low sexual desire can range from mild to extreme, wrote BermanSexualHealth.com. In mild cases people may go through periods of not thinking about or wanting sex. Others don’t long for sex, but enjoy it when it happens.

NCBI wrote that in the extreme form, the person not only lacks sexual desire, but may find sex repulsive.

A wide range of physical changes, psychological causes and medications can cause HSDD.

Relationship problems, lack of affection, power struggles and conflicts are common factors, said NCBI.

BermanSexualHealth.com wrote that menopause affects sexual desire by decreasing lubrication, lowering estrogen and testosterone levels, and other changes in the sexual response cycle.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy, just after childbirth, and during breast-feeding can damper sex drive, said Mayo Clinic.

Numerous nonsexual diseases can cause HSDD, added Mayo Clinic. These include arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and neurological diseases.

Many common medications, such as antihypertensives, antidepressants and birth control pills interfere with sex drive, arousal and orgasm by affecting the balance of sexual hormones and the transmission of chemical messengers, wrote Discovery Health.

There are also psychological causes of low sex drive including anxiety or depression, stress, poor body image, and low self-esteem, said Mayo Clinic. And any surgery related to the breasts or genital tract can affect body image, sexual function and sexual desire.

HDSS can result from painful intercourse, childhood sexual abuse or rape, or unusually high levels of inhibition, wrote BermanSexualHealth.com.

Commonly overlooked factors include insomnia or lack of sleep, which lead to fatigue, added NCBI.

There are treatments for hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Some benefit from sex therapists or counselors who help address sexual concerns and low sex drive.

Medications like antidepressants often lower sex drive. Everyday Health said that sometimes HSDD can be resolved by changing medications to ones with fewer side effects.

Estrogen delivered throughout the entire body can have a positive effect on mood factors that affect sexual response, said Mayo Clinic. But this estrogen therapy may increase the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.

Smaller doses of estrogen can increase blood flow to the vagina and help improve sexual desire without the above risks. Testosterone also plays an important role in female sexual function. However, replacing testosterone in women is controversial and not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sexual dysfunction in women.

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