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Causes and treatments for low libido in women

Posted on 02-14-16 in Health and Wellness

Causes and treatments for low libido in women

This past August, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the so-called “female Viagra,” or Addyi. Addyi (flibanserin) can now be prescribed in 100 mg tablets for women who struggle with low sexual desire. According to the FDA, Addyi works directly on the brain by altering the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin, not unlike an antidepressant.

Unfortunately, sexual attraction – for both men and women — is very complex. People’s libido can be influenced by the state of their current relationship, their physical well-being, their emotional well-being, their past experiences or even their current lifestyle.

Can a single pill really make a difference for women with low libido?

What causes a low libido in women?

Women struggle with a low libido for numerous reasons. Here are only a few examples:

  • They may be having difficulties in their relationship. When women (and men) don’t feel comfortable with their significant others, they’re less likely to want to have sex with them. They might worry that their significant other is judging them or dissatisfied.
  • They might have a physical illness that is hindering their sexual desires. Physical illnesses that can decrease libido include cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis.
  • They might have a mental illness that is dampening their libido. Certain mental illnesses (for instance, depression and anxiety) are associated with low libido.
  • They may be taking a medication that interferes with their libido. Some antidepressants and anticonvulsants are known to negatively impact libido.
  • They may have lifestyle habits that are reducing their ability to experience sexual desire. They may be sleep-deprived from overworking or exhausted from exercising. Smoking and drinking in excess can also lower libido.
  • They may have hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is the most common form of female sexual dysfunction, or FSD for short. Other forms of FSD include sexual pain disorders such as atrophic vaginitis, sexual arousal disorder and female orgasmic disorder.

Unfortunately, the only condition Addyi is designed to treat is hypoactive sexual desire disorder. This means that women who struggle with low libido for other reasons are out of luck.

Treating low libido without a pill

What should women with low libido do if they can’t take “the little pink pill”?

    1. Evaluate your current relationship. Many people — men and women alike — stay in a bad relationship far longer than necessary. If you’re having trouble experiencing sexual desire for the person you’re with, the problem might not be with you — it might be with the other person. Take a step backward and try to look at your relationship as objectively as possible. Does this person make you happy?
  • Get treatment for medical issues. Whether you have depression or diabetes, getting treatment is essential. Often, receiving the right medication can do wonders for your mental and physical health. When people are happy and healthy, their libido tends to be high.
  • Talk about switching medications. If you’re getting treatment for your medical issues but your medication is hindering your libido, talk to your doctor about switching medications. Some people find that their libido actually increases on certain medications. For instance, the antidepressant Prozac is known to lower libido, but the antidepressant Wellbutrin can raise it
  • Modify your habits.


Of course — as mentioned previously — a person’s libido is complex. It’s possible that none of these methods will work. If you’re struggling with your libido, the best thing you can do is see a doctor. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have an opportunity to try out Addyi after all.

The Sovereign Health Group’s mental health treatment program provides treatment for a variety of disorders, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental and behavioral health disorders. At Sovereign, we understand the complex dynamic between mental health, physical health and the environment. We believe that by treating our patients as individuals — rather than using a one-size-fits-all method — we provide one of the best treatment plans in the country. For more information, please contact us at our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Courtney Lopresti, M.S., is a senior staff writer for the Sovereign Health Group where she uses her scientific background to write online blogs and articles for a general audience. At the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her Master’s in Neuroscience, she used functional neuroimaging to study how the human cerebellum contributes to language processing. In her spare time, she writes fiction, reads Oliver Sacks and spends time with her two cats and bird. Courtney is currently located in Minneapolis. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at