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Low Sex Drive in Women: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


It’s perfectly normal for women's sex drive to vary at different times during life. Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause can lower the female libido, as can illness, taking certain medications, or a lack of connection with partners.

If your low sex drive is bothering you, or adversely affecting your relationship, there are effective lifestyle changes and natural remedies you can use to re-ignite it. Read on, to learn more. 

What Is Low Sex Drive?

Low sex drive, or low libido, is defined by a decrease in your usual desire for sexual activity like intercourse and masturbation. Sometimes the drop in sexual desire is temporary and during other stages of life, it can last for longer.

What’s important to remember is that everyone’s sex drive is different. Some may enjoy sex a few times a week, while others might feel like sex a few times a year. There is no ‘standard’ level of sex drive that is right for everyone. 

If you’ve noticed a drop in your desire for sexual activity, the common causes of low libido in women listed below can help you to understand why. 

Symptoms of Low Sex Drive in Women

The main symptom of low sex drive is not having as many thoughts, desires, or fantasies about sex as before. Women with low sex drive can also have less interest in masturbation than they previously had.  

For many women, a lack of libido can also conjure feelings of concern, guilt, or anguish when their partner feels like sex and they don’t. However, these emotions can often be more damaging to a relationship than low libido. 

When it comes to low sex drive, try to remember that it happens to everyone at some stage in life. It’s also helpful to know that there are remedies to help get in the mood, even if it is not as frequent as before, and at the end of the day, loving, long-lasting relationships are not only about sex. 

Common Causes of Low Sex Drive in Women

Sexual desire is typically reliant on four factors – physical health, biological well-being, mental health, and relationship status. The cause of low libido is therefore normally derived from one, some, or all of these factors. 

Physical Factors That Cause Low Libido

When women don’t feel physically healthy, it can alter their sex drive. For example, illnesses like the common cold or the flu could alter the female sex drive temporarily, while managing conditions like diabetes, cancer, arthritis, chronic pain, heart conditions, or osteoporosis could lower libido long-term. Medications that women take to treat these conditions can also affect their sex drive.  

Women who have undergone pelvic or breast surgery can also experience a lull in their libido. While this may initially come down to experiencing physical pain after surgery, certain procedures can also alter women’s body image or their ability to function the same way sexually.   

The physical wellness of the vagina is also a major physical contributor to female sexual desire. Vaginal infections can lower female libido temporarily until treated, whereas with conditions like vaginitis and vulvodynia, the pain experienced during sex (dyspareunia), can cause a long-term drop in libido due to the fear of more pain. 

Another physical factor that can affect the female libido is alcohol. While one alcoholic drink might be relaxing and get some women in the mood for sex, too much alcohol can kill the mood completely. 

Exhaustion is another important physical influencer on women’s sex drive. Working, keeping the home functioning well, and caring for children or elderly parents can be challenging and leave many women too tired for sex. 

Biological Factors

When it comes to sexual desire, biological wellness essentially centers around hormones. At various stages of the month, for instance, female hormones are known to fluctuate and alter the sex drive temporarily. 

During pregnancy, hormone changes can sometimes increase women’s sexual desire, while at other stages of pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations and physical changes to the body will lower the libido. Women’s sex drive is also typically low while breastfeeding due to low estrogen levels.  

With the onset of perimenopause, estrogen levels also begin to drop as women transition into menopause. As estrogen production continues to incrementally decrease throughout this phase of life there is less blood flow to the vaginal tissues and the production of natural lubrication also decreases. This can cause the vaginal walls to thin and become dry (vaginal atrophy), which often results in friction and painful sex (dyspareunia). 

Not all women going through menopause experience vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex, but those who do often experience a drop in their sex drive due to fear of more pain.  

Psychological Causes

Women’s mental health and emotional well-being are vitally important when it comes to being sexually aroused and feeling sexually desirable.  Experiencing anxiety, depression, or stress can happen to women of all ages and each one can lower the libido either temporarily or long-term. Unfortunately, some medications that are prescribed to treat anxiety and depression are also known to lower sex drive. 

Previous sexual abuse or unpleasant sexual experiences can also affect women’s libido. Women recovering from unpleasant sexual experiences, painful sex, or previous sexual abuse often feel a form of psychological pain at the mere thought of sex, for example. 

In these cases, at the prospect of sex, the brain will typically send signals to the vaginal muscles to tighten and protect the body from more pain. When the vaginal muscles tighten in protection mode like this, penetration is uncomfortable, friction and pain occur during intercourse, and due to the cyclical loop of pain, the sex drive typically plummets.   

Mental health issues can also leave women with low self-esteem or a poor body image that negatively affects their ability to enjoy sex or orgasm and ultimately their libido. 

How the Social Relationship with a Partner Can Cause Low Sex Drive 

Although it’s natural for sexual intimacy in long-term relationships to change somewhat over time, maintaining a social connection with one another helps keep the spark of intimacy alive.

Most women prefer, if not require, a sense of emotional intimacy with their partner to feel sexually aroused or ‘ready’ for sex, for instance. Therefore, any issues between partners in a sexual relationship can lead to a drop in the female’s libido. 

Poor communication, a lack of trust, leaving arguments unresolved, and a lack of understanding about one another’s sexual preferences can have a similar effect.

Treating Low Sex Drive in Women

If you’ve noticed a drop in your libido, scheduling a consultation with your doctor will help determine the underlying cause and the proper course of action to improve it. One in three women aged 30-59 experience low libido at least once in their lives, so know that you are not alone and that your healthcare provider is there to help.   

To diagnose the cause of low sex drive in women, a doctor will typically ask about each patient’s sexual and medical history, as well as their biological, physical, and mental health. If needed, a pelvic exam and blood tests might be scheduled to check for gynecological issues, thyroid changes, underlying medical conditions, or hormone fluctuations. 

Depending on their findings, a patient might be prescribed medication to treat an underlying illness that has affected their libido. 

If low estrogen levels are found to be the cause, hormone therapy (HT) might be recommended. 

Counseling would typically be advised for women recovering from negative sexual experiences, or for those suffering from low self-esteem or mental health issues. 

Couples counseling or sex therapy might be recommended if relationship issues are determined as the cause of low sex drive. 

In some cases, women with low sex drive benefit from combining one of the above mentioned medical solutions with some of the natural remedies and lifestyle changes outlined below.  

Natural Remedies & Lifestyle Changes to Improve Sex Drive

If your low sex drive is not medically related, making some small lifestyle changes and trying an easy and effective at-home natural therapy could be all that’s needed to revive it. 

Dilator Therapy

Widely recommended to improve blood flow to the vaginal tissues and flexibility to the vaginal walls, vaginal dilators are one of the best ways to improve women’s sex drive.

Designed for home use, these tube-shaped medical devices are gently inserted into the vagina with the help of lubrication and are used to slowly and gently rejuvenate the vagina after surgery, radiation treatment, dyspareunia, or menopause. 

The best dilators are designed in sets of gradually increasing sizes to provide a slow and gentle rejuvenation to the vagina over time. Whether low libido is caused by physical, biological, or psychological factors, dilator therapy can help women of all ages to feel more naturally aroused.

Personal Lubricant

While personal lubricant is not a cure for low libido in women, it helps to improve sexual arousal during foreplay, makes vaginal penetration more comfortable, and reduces friction during intercourse. To help keep the vaginal microbiome healthy, choose a fragrance-free, water-based lubricant.    

Natural Alternative to Hormone Therapy

As mentioned above, when low estrogen levels during menopause are identified as the likely cause of low sex drive in women, hormone therapy is typically recommended. However, while supplementing estrogen can help relieve symptoms of menopause for some, it can increase the risk of breast and uterine cancer for others. 

Women who need, or prefer, to avoid HT during menopause are turning to a natural remedy called Chasteberry instead. As a phytoestrogen, Chasteberry, which is also known as Vitex, mimics the effects of estrogen in the body instead of supplementing it, meaning it provides similar benefits to HT without any of the side effects. 

It is important to understand that Chasteberry, or estrogen supplementation, will not directly treat low libido in women. However, they do help alleviate menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness, lack of natural lubrication, breast tenderness, mood swings, and hot flashes. Improved vaginal lubrication, less vaginal dryness, and better moods can all enhance women’s sexual desires.    

Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes, it’s easier for women to improve their sex drive by completely forgetting about sex. For example, rather than feeling guilty or stressed about a lack of sexual desire, it can often be more helpful to reconnect with partners in a meaningful way.

Focusing on the little things, like kissing them goodbye, welcoming them home with a smile, buying their favorite treats, arranging date nights, and cooking their favorite meals, can nurture relationships to the point that sex becomes less stressful and more spontaneous.   

Improving communication between partners is also effective. Not only communication in everyday life but talking openly about one another’s changing sexual needs and preferences is important too. Spicing things up with foreplay and plenty of lubricant, for instance, without engaging in sexual penetration, can be very helpful in improving low female libido.    

Self-care is another important life change that can improve the female sex drive. Getting more exercise, learning to relax and release stress with yoga or meditation, and drinking less alcohol are all natural ways of improving low sex drive in women. 


If a drop in libido is concerning you, or adversely affecting your relationship, scheduling an appointment with your doctor can help you determine the underlying cause. Improving women’s sex drive can be as simple as re-training the vaginal muscles, reconnecting with your partner, re-balancing hormones, using more lubricant, or treating an underlying medical condition. 

Experiencing less interest in sex as a woman is perfectly normal at different stages in life. One of the first recommendations from sex therapists is to speak openly with your partner about it so that, together, you can find a way back to intimacy in a way that suits you both.


WebMD - Why Women Lose Interest in Sex -- and What Helps -

Health Direct – Loss of Female Libido -

Mayo Clinic – Dysapeurnia -

North American  Menopause Society – Decreased Desire -

Medline Plus – Women & Sexual Problems -

My Health Alberta – Female Sexuality & Cancer: Vaginal Dilators