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Causes of low libido in women

An increasing number of women in their childbearing years struggle with low libido. Annie Cruz, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Piedmont, says stress, relationship troubles, birth control, and even changes to a woman’s pelvic area after childbirth are the leading causes.

“Sometimes it can be linked to a physical condition, especially if a woman has already had children and undergone physical changes to the pelvic area,” says Dr. Cruz. “But even more common are psychosocial causes. Woman take on so many roles that when it comes time to turn off the lights, sleep is the only thing they desire.”

Causes of low libido in women

Dr. Cruz warns that it is not always easy to find the organic source of low sex drive in women of childbearing age. Likewise, it is not a simple condition to treat. However, Dr. Cruz encourages women to talk to their OB/GYN or primary care physician about these issues.

“Low sex drive in women in their prime is a real issue and it is not addressed as much as it should be,” she says. “There is no medication to treat the overtired, overworked female. But if you can use process of elimination to pinpoint the culprit, there are ways a woman can de-stress her life and work on reviving sexual intimacy.”

Common contributing factors of low-sex drive in young women include: 

Psychosocial causes. Women wear so many different hats — wife, mother, student, employee. Maintaining all of these healthy relationships takes time and energy, and can be an exhausting juggling act, leaving a woman with little energy to spare.

Postpartum. Women who give birth vaginally often experience nerve compression, which may cause pain during intercourse. Damage to the sciatic nerve also interferes with the sensation to the anatomic area that affects intercourse. In more serious cases, a woman’s pubic bone can separate, causing excruciating pain. In this case, physical rehabilitation may be required.

Post-surgery. Delivering a baby via Cesarean-section will put a woman out of commission physically for up to six weeks or more. The abdominal area will be sensitive for some time following surgery, which may affect sexual pleasure.

Body image issues. Women who are mentally distracted and concerned about how they look in the heat of the moment can lose intimacy quickly.

Birth control. One of the proven side effects of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection and some birth control pills is decreased libido. All birth control methods affect women in different ways. Dr. Cruz says it is important to find the method that works best for each patient with minimal side effects.

“Women shouldn’t lose hope for regaining sexual intimacy in their lives. While the psychosocial aspects are harder to treat, we are hopeful that new methods for treating the physical conditions [that affect libido] will arise as this condition gains more attention.”

Dr. Cruz’s office recently began offering pelvic rehab, which provides stimulation to the pelvic area via conduction.

“We are confident this will help many women who suffer from physical nerve damage,” she says.

If you have questions that you want to ask your doctor, it is helpful to write them down ahead of time. Both your primary physician and OB/GYN are there to answer your questions and make sure you are in optimal health. 

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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