In my practice, I hear my patients talk about a wide range menopause-related struggles. Some of the stories I find most affecting are the ones related to loss of desire, which about half of women over age 40 experience. The women are just so sad—and rightly so. It’s a cruel irony that at the exact moment children leave the nest and you have time and privacy to devote to sex, desire disappears.
Some women honestly don’t mind, and there’s nothing wrong with just letting sex go (although your partner might not agree, and you’ll be foregoing all the health benefits!). Others feel the loss keenly. They are stunned by their sudden inability to access the feeling that has always been an easy path to connectedness. Oh, the things we take for granted in our youth!
There are a few names for this condition: hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) or hypoactive sexual interest and arousal disorder (HSIAD). How do you know if you have it? If you are unsatisfied with how often you consider or pursue sex, and there’s no medical reason you don’t consider or pursue it, then you have it.
If it bothers you, if you’re like my patients who ask, “Isn’t there something I can do?”, then keep reading. Although companies are continually trying to create a drug that will enhance desire (Vyleesi is a recent entry on the market, and we’ll post about it soon), there isn’t a silver bullet yet like there is for men, who can take Viagra or a number of alternatives. Desire in women is the result of a complex balance of physical, psychological, and social influences. (If you haven’t come across it yet, now’s a good time to read the MiddlesexMD Recipe for Sexual Health.)
While there isn’t an easy answer, there are numerous things you can try, which you can explore from this page on our website. Look in the right-hand column for possible underlying causes, and follow the links to actions you can take.
If nothing you see works for you, talk to your medical professional. Desire is well worth working to hang onto!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.