Not sure what's causing your low sex drive? An expert unpacks reasons and remedies for women

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Illustration by Getty Images
  • Having a low sex drive can be worrying, especially in a relationship with a partner with a high sex drive. 
  • Superintendent pharmacist Abbas Kanani says psychological issues such as depression and poor body image can influence sexual desire. 
  • There are a lot of over-the-counter remedies: some safe and some not. 
  • Knowing what you are using and how it affects your body is essential.  

A low sex drive can be worrying, especially in a relationship with a partner with a high sex drive. But women should not be too hard on themselves when they go through it as various reasons cause it. 

The UK-based Chemist Click shares that change in hormone levels may alter a woman's desire for sex. The following can lead to female sexual dysfunction (FSD), preventing a woman from experiencing satisfaction during sex. It may affect their ability to become aroused, orgasm or enjoy sex without pain. 

Possible causes of a low sex drive 

- For instance, estrogen levels drop during the transition to menopause which can cause a dip in libido and dry vaginal tissues, resulting in painful or uncomfortable sex. 

- Women who experience pain during sex or can't orgasm may have a reduced desire for sex as a result. Underlying health issues also impact sex drive, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and neurological diseases. 

- Those pregnant or breastfeeding may also notice a lack of interest in sex. It is a normal part of pregnancy for many women, as fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone influence levels of sexual desire. 

- Additional pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, stress and weight gain, may also impact a woman's libido.

- Smoking has been shown to affect the two hormones that play a large part in sexual desire - testosterone and oestrogen in both men and women. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to nerve damage in the clitoris and negatively affect the body's serotonin, testosterone, and dopamine levels. 

-Some prescription drugs, particularly antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are known to lower the sex drive. 

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According to Superintendent pharmacist Abbas Kanani, psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and poor body image influence sexual desire and cause the disorder, sexual performance anxiety. "Depression can change the body's biochemistry and therefore reduce libido, while anxiety associated with a negative self-image can increase the inability to achieve heightened levels of arousal," Kanani says. 

Once you understand what is causing the low sex drive, it is better to remedy it. 

Here is how to remedy it according to Kanani: 

- It is possible for women to influence libido and increase sex drive positively. A blood test can effectively determine why sex drive has reduced if a hormonal change or imbalance is causing a lowered libido. A doctor may recommend estrogen therapy, a type of hormone therapy. The combination of oestrogen and progesterone can help to increase libido in women. 

- Exercise, mindfulness, and a healthy diet are all effective methods for improving sex drive. Women benefit from exercise thanks to the effects of hormones, neurotransmitters, and autonomic nervous system activity. Just 20 minutes of exercise could boost sexual arousal by 169%. 

- If lowered libido stems from psychological issues, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a treatment that works by talking through worries, experiences and feelings, which can help increase your libido. 

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- A healthy diet rich in antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins, as well as reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking, is likely to positively affect your overall health. These lifestyle changes can improve blood flow, ease the strain on the liver, and contribute to a healthier mental state. 

- Sleep has a profound effect on women's arousal levels as well. The Journal of Sexual Medicine published results of a study that indicates women were 14% more likely to engage in sexual activity with their partners if they had even one extra hour of sleep. 

There are a lot of over-the-counter remedies: some safe and some not. Knowing what you are using and how it affects your body is essential. 

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- Often recommended are two products that have been referred to as the female Viagra, called Flibanserin (Addyi) and Lady Era. These treatments are licensed and available to buy only in certain countries. The female Viagra pill called Lady Era contains sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient found in male Viagra. Lady Era is thought to increase blood flow to a woman's genitals to improve sexual arousal. 

- There is also a very different treatment available in the US, called Flibanserin (brand name Addyi) which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Flibanserin is thought to work by increasing dopamine (the feel-good hormone) to boost sexual desire. Like with any medication, side effects are possible, including low blood pressure, dizziness and fainting. 

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- Rhodiola rosea is a medicinal plant that has been proven to be effective in reducing feelings of stress and fatigue, two of the biggest contributing factors to waning libido in both men and women. 

- L-arginine is an amino acid used for several functions in the body, including immunity and repairing damaged tissues. It also increases the body's production of nitric acid, relaxing the muscles surrounding blood vessels in the genitals. This increases blood flow to the clitoris, which can help improve arousal and sensation.

It is important to consult a doctor before using any of these products or any other to help remedy your situation.

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