Low Sex Drive in Women – The Facts

common at many ages - low sex drive in womenLow sex drive in women is a common problem at many ages, because female sex drive is influenced by a wide range of emotional as well as physical factors.  Sydney sex therapist Dr Rosie King – author of Where Did My Libido Go? – estimates 50 per cent of Australian women experience low sex drive and she says it is the most common problem she sees amongst people seeking help.

It’s only a problem if the woman is unhappy about it, or if she is in a relationship where he partner wants more sex.

Men’s dissatisfaction with their partner’s low sex drive surfaces in the Australian media regularly – whether its Sydney adman Nigel Marsh suggesting Aussie men “love their partners but are permanently sexually frustrated” or Bettina Ardnt blaming men’s low sex drive on their partner’s lack of interest.

Low sex drive in women is reflected in a dozen jokes about female sex drive. Like:Steve Martin - low sex drive in women

Joke 1. You know that look women get when they want sex? Me neither. – actor Steve Martin

Joke 2. Q: What do you give a woman to decrease her interest in sex?
A: A wedding cake.

Causes of Low Sex Drive in Women

Men and women suffer from low sex drive for similar underlying physical and emotional reasons, including:

  • Stress, fatigue and depression
  • Chronic illness – heart disease, diabetes
  • Hormonal change – pregnancy, PMS, menopause
  • Relationship issues – feeling taken for granted or unappreciated kills female sex drive
  • Side effects of common medications – anti depressants, hypertension meds, hay fever or sinus relief products

However men’s and women’s sex drive is also different. Men are geared for instant arousal, while women take longer to feel aroused and are more affected by her total environment.

A female’s sex drive is much more affected by a need to feel close and intimate before sex, rather than sex giving the experience of intimacy, as is the case with men. As Dr Rosie King notes, for a woman everything that happens in the 24 hours before sex has an impact on how responsive she feels.

And she suggests there is also a lot of wrong information spread in the media about female sex drive.

The most common “myths” about low sex drive in women are that

  • If you love someone you will automatically feel turned on sexually
  • You have to feel like sex to enjoy sex

As Dr King notes, neither of these ideas have good scientific foundation.

You can love someone and still need help to feel sexually aroused, and many women will enjoy sex if they proceed with love making even if they do not feel instantly aroused.

Treatment for Low Sex Drive in Women

The best treatment for low sex drive in women is a warm and intimate relationship built around:communication - low sex drive in women

  • A low level of conflict
  • Quality time spent with partner
  • Good communication
  • And plenty of non-demanding attention

Next is to ensure you are taking care of your health by reducing stress, getting plenty of exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and having your hormone levels – including thyroid function and iron deficiency anaemia – checked.

  • Consider whether you may be suffering from low level depression.  If you are already on a SSRI antidepressant, consider switching medications to one which does not interfere with sex drive. Some studies show taking Viagra in these circumstances may increase female desire so talk with your doctor.


  • Bio-identical hormone creams: Pharmaceutically compounded estrogen, progesterone, estriol and testosterone can be prescribed for topical application to help increase female sex drive. Consult your doctor for the prescription which will best suit you.
    • Placing estrogen directly into the vagina soothes vaginal tissue, and allows the secretions necessary for comfortable sex and possibly even an increase in sexual desire. Topically applied estrogen carries no cancer risk and is available as suppository tablets, creams, or “rings,” which sit inside the vagina and give off small doses of the hormone over time.
    • Testosterone creams and gels can be applied to the vagina to increase sensation, or to the clitoris to increase orgasm.
  • Vitamin E Can be topically applied to the vagina to rehydrate tissue and possiblyvitamin e - low sex drive in women

increase sensation. Just stick a pin in a vitamin E capsule and apply to the vagina several times a week, even if you’re not having sex. Or try an intimate gel – like one hundred per cent natural Ignite Intimate gel with damiana and L-arginine – to assist with lubrication.

  • Zestra Web MD reports a small, placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 2003 showed that when used as a genital massage oil, this proprietary blend of botanicals (including borage seed and evening primrose oils, Angelica root and vitamins C and E) provided a statistically significant increase in arousal, desire, genital stimulation, ability to orgasm, and pleasure, in 20 women with or without sexual desire problems. The treatment also worked equally well on women using SSRI antidepressant medicines.


  • L-Arginine In a study of 77 women, a controlled double blind study found the nutritional supplement ArginMax increased sexual desire and satisfaction in more than twice the number of women taking placebo. The research was published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 2001.