Low libido can have a significant negative impact on relationships. However, having a low libido on its own isn’t a cause for concern, as it is quite normal for this to fluctuate depending on your health, lifestyle and relationships.

Unfortunately, low libido is not really something that people discuss with their friends, family or health professionals. This could be due to embarrassment or worrying about what others may think.

There is however increasing awareness that it can be a real problem, and can cause significant distress, not just for the person involved but also in their interpersonal relationships.

Because of this, low libido was classified as a disorder in 2013 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V). The official term is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) or Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (FSIAD).

In fact, it is thought to be prevalent in up to one-third of women in the United States and a review in April 2016 of studies on HSDD, 8.9% of women aged between 18 to 44 have HSDD.

Put simply symptoms would include:

  • having a lack of interest or desire for sexual activity which is causing them distress or relationship problems
  • reduced or absent sexual thoughts
  • not accounted for by other medical issues or medications

There are a number of risk factors for developing HSDD including:

  • poor mental or physical health
  • hormonal changes such as during menopause/peri-menopause, pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes or any other chronic medical illness
  • lifestyle – stress at work or with relationship and family problems
  • some prescription medications – such as some antidepressants.

If you think you may have some of the symptoms or risk factors outlined above it may be worthwhile consulting with your doctor or if do not feel comfortable, seeking advice from a women’s health or sexual health clinic.

Your doctor may ask you a number or questions or examine and/or order any relevant investigations to see if there is any underlying and manageable cause. They can also go through your current medications in detail to see if these might be a contributing factor. Depending on if there is an underlying reason your doctor may discuss management options with you. This may include prescribing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) if you are experiencing vaginal dryness or trying a different antidepressant (if you are already on one).

It may also be helpful to consider seeing a qualified sex therapist as they may be able to help address any underlying issues and give you strategies on how to manage these as well as techniques to help communicate better with your partner and how you can increase your own sexual desire.

Other things that you can do for yourself include maintaining a healthy lifestyle: quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, exercising regularly and setting aside time to spend quality time with your partner.

There are a couple of approved treatments for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder available in the United States. This includes a tablet by the name of Addyi (flibanserin) which is taken daily and results in increased sexual thoughts and desire. The other medication is called Vyleesi (bremelanotide), which is an injection which is used on demand, which results in increased dopamine levels in the brain and hence increased desire.

At present, there is no medical treatment available in Australia to treat low libido or Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.

To find out more, contact AusTrials on 07 3278 5255 or email info@austrials.com.au.