Has the Va-Va-Voom Left the Bedroom?

Low Libido in WomenWhen should your frequent ‘not-in-the-mood’ become a concern? Are you just tired, or is something else going on? Is it something that warrants medical attention? If ‘not tonight’ is every night, it might be time to seek help.

Low sex drive in women (low libido or loss of interest in sex) plagues a large percentage of adult women, from those in their pre-childbearing years to the post-menopausal years. And, yes, low sex drive in young women is quite common. Husbands start wondering ‘why is my wife on interested in sex,’ or she might ask herself ‘why am I not interested in sex?’ A loss of interest in sex can be a part of the normal ebb and flow of life, but when does not tonight become a problem?  It is best to seek medical help when low sex drive begins to negatively affect the couple’s satisfaction with their relationship.

Many women are embarrassed or hesitant to talk to their doctor or healthcare provider about sexual problems, thinking that they won’t be taken seriously or that there isn’t anything that can be done to help. Studies show that only about 20% of women with sexual problems actually seek medical help[1]; however, a woman’s sexual vigor affects her overall well-being and happiness and has potential lifelong implications.

Types of Female Sexual Dysfunctions

There are four main types of sexual dysfunction that can have an impact on a woman’s sex drive. These are sexual desire, sexual arousal, orgasmic difficulties, and dyspareunia.

● Decreased sexual desire is low libido, reduced sexual interest, lack of a craving for sexual sensations, or a struggle with ‘getting in the mood.’

● Diminished sexual arousal is a decreased physical, emotional, or mental reaction to sexual stimulation during foreplay or sex even if the initial desire for sex is present.

● Orgasmic problems are the inability for a woman to reach orgasm, or the recent inability for a woman who previously achieved orgasm to reach climax of the sexual response.

● Finally, dyspareunia is pain during sex that can be due to gynecological, emotional and physical abnormalities. Sex should never be painful. Any pain during sex should receive immediate medical attention by a specialist.

Of these sexual problems, the most common cause of is decreased sexual desire, and the majority of women affected are in their 40s. Women naturally experience a decrease in sexual desire as they age, and many are not distressed. But if they feel their relationship is negatively impacted or if they have a desire to desire know that there is help.

What causes low sex drive in women?

A women’s sexual desire is far more complicated than a man’s libido. He can take a little blue pill to remedy his most common sexual complaint and be ready to go, but the same cannot be said for her. The female sex drive comprises psychological and physiological factors, with a wide range of possible culprits that might negatively impact her libido.

● Common psychological (mental or emotional) triggers can be job stress, relationship problems, depression or anxiety, negative body image, past sexual trauma, an unwillingness to be sexual, or sociocultural influences like media images or peer pressure.

● Typical physical impairments can be hormone imbalances like low testosterone, age, menstrual cycle, menopause, demands of a caregiver or mother, and post-partum pregnancy changes.

Medical conditions affecting libido include anemia, chemotherapy, depression, anxiety, prolactin tumors, fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid disease, and even some vitamin deficiencies.

Medications that can decrease sex drive include antidepressants, anxiety medicine, narcotics, some blood pressure drugs, or even some birth control pills.

Low sex drive only becomes a problem if it causes stress on the woman or the couple. Some people are adversely affected by a lower sex drive, while others are not. Studies show a correlation between distress over low sex drive and depression. The more distressed a woman is over her low libido and the effects it has on her relationship, the greater the prevalence of depression. “[One] in 8 women aged 45-64 years had distress associated with desire problems….”[2] Because a low libido frequently has both psychological and physical elements, a multifaceted approach and the right doctor are essential to fix the problem.

When a woman desires to increase her sex drive, she should have an honest talk with her partner and hopefully get his full support. The couple should create a trusting, safe, and intimate setting. Then they should troubleshoot potential areas in the bedroom that could be enhanced.  Lifestyle changes might include reducing workplace stress or changing jobs, asking for and receiving more help from her partner with parenting and household duties, avoiding exhaustion, and finding a way to have a little bit left in the tank at the end of the day. Psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, or perhaps past sexual trauma also can help women receive and give sexual intimacy. The mind plays a large role in arousal for women, and should not be overlooked. It is very important for her to stop, find a healthy balance, and take care of herself and her relationship with her partner.

Diagnosis of Physical Factors

To properly diagnose the physiological component of a low libido, it is critical to consult a medical doctor who specializes in women’s sexual health. The doctor must take her concerns very seriously, be an expert in the field, take the time to thoroughly evaluate all areas of her life including psychological and physiological components, and know how to effectively treat the condition. Dr. Katherine Williams, an obstetrician/gynecologist in the New Orleans area, is such a doctor. She earned a fellowship with the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) in 2015, making her uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat women with sexual problems.

Treatment: How can a woman increase her libido?

For women with sexual dysfunction, Dr. Katherine Williams created a special clinic called the Southern Institute for Women’s Sexual Health (SIWSH) with locations in New Orleans and Covington, Louisiana.  At SIWSH, Dr. Williams spends about three times as long as the average gynecological visit with each woman, allowing her to give great attention to the details, receive a full medical history, perform a thorough exam, take tests, and order specific blood work. To boost a low sex drive, Dr. Williams implements a personalized plan of care for each woman. The plan might include changing medications, hormone therapy, remedying gynecological abnormalities, or treating other medical conditions.

Benefits of Sex

A woman who has an active sex life has enhanced self-esteem, feels sensual and attractive, and typically has better communication and intimacy with her partner. There are countless health benefits to a robust sex life, like improved immunity, better heart health, lowered blood pressure, improved sleep, relieved stress, strengthened pelvic floor muscles (which helps with incontinence), blocked back and leg pain signals, and increased release of oxytocin (the love hormone). The more sex you have, the more sex you want. And don’t forget that sex counts as exercise! A good sex life is a healthy life.

If you need help with a low libido, low sex drive, or other sexual dysfunction, contact Dr. Williams at the Southern Institute for Women’s Sexual Health at www.swish.com, (985) 871-0707, or appointments@siwsh.com. Help is waiting for you. Please don’t suffer in silence anymore.

[1] “Sexual Problems and Distress in United States Women: Prevale… : Obstetrics & Gynecology.” LWW. Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal, Nov. 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Abstract/2008/11000 .
[2] “Why Women Lose Interest in Sex.” WebMD. WebMD, 2004. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/loss-of-sexual-desire-in-women#1>.
[3] Top 11 Health Benefits of Sex. (2013, November 8). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/18/11-sex-health-benefits.aspx

One thought on “Has the Va-Va-Voom Left the Bedroom?

  1. Low libido for women also needs to be taken care of. This is where this article is a big help for women who experience low libido. This is a must-read for women to be aware that they have experienced such and on how they can avoid it as early as they can.

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