Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder- Causes and Treatment

What is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?

Intro- Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a type of sexual dysfunction that can prevent someone from experiencing sexual satisfaction. It is also called HSDD — is when you’re not interested in sex (have no sex drive or a low sex drive), and it bothers you. It’s one of the most common sexual problems that people have. 

Some people experience lifelong HSDD and for others it may happen later in life, even if they previously had a healthy and fulfilling sex life. Though it can happen to anyone, HSDD is especially common in females, occurring up to one-third of adult women.

People who have HSDD have little or no thoughts or fantasies about sex, don’t respond to their partner’s sexual signals or suggestions, lose desire for sex while having it, or avoid sex all together.

Causes

There are many physical and mental hurdles that can impact sex drive, over time resulting in HSDD. Studies found that sexual dysfunction resulting in HSDD is more prevalent in both women and men who are in poor physical and mental health.

Hormonal Changes

There are also a number of hormonal shifts that can cause HSDD for women down the line, such as menopause. One study found that low sexual desire ranged from 26.7% in premenopausal women to 52.4% of naturally menopausal women, making the disorder twice as prevalent in women once they go through menopause. Other hormonal issues such as pregnancy and breastfeeding may also cause diminished sexual desire which can lead to HSDD.

Certain Medical Conditions- A number of medical conditions can also cause HSDD as a side effect, including:

  • Breast cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Thyroid disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple sclerosis

Lifestyle

Your lifestyle may also be a factor in HSDD, particularly if you find yourself extremely fatigued at night after a busy day at work or caring for others like your children or aging parents. And while it’s enjoyable to have a glass of wine at the end of the day, too much alcohol at night can impact your sex drive, as well as smoking which can decrease blood flow and cause you not to feel as aroused.

Mental health

Your overall mental health and the health of your relationship can be a cause of HSDD. Anxiety, depression, body image issues, as well as previous sexual abuse or poor sexual experiences all play a part in your sex drive.

Lack of communication

Communication issues or disconnect with your partner can also cause your libido to wane, and if these issues aren’t being actively worked on together through; over time HSDD can evolve from them.

Other causes

Medical problems like cancer, diabetes, heart problems, multiple sclerosis, or bladder problems. Medicines like antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, chemotherapy, and feminizing hormone therapy.

Symptoms of HSDD

Symptoms of HSDD are what set it apart from simply experiencing low libido. The symptoms may also include:

  • A loss of interest in sex and sexual activities 
  • Being unresponsive to sexual stimulation, either visual or physical 
  • Feeling significantly distressed about your loss of interest in sexual activity 
  • Experiencing symptoms of a loss of desire in sex for at least six months 
  • Not experiencing spontaneous desire

Treatment of HSDD

HSDD can be a frustrating and distressing condition. The good news is that it can be treated. The type of treatment you receive will depend on what other external factors have triggered and caused your HSDD. It may also be recommended that you receive multiple forms of treatment, such as counseling and medication.

Medication 

There are several medications prescribed for the treatment of HSDD today. Some of the most common include: 

  • Addyi: In 2015, the FDA approved Addyi, also known as flibanserin, specifically for treating hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
  • Buspirone: This is a drug formulated for the treatment of anxiety disorders. It’s also prescribed off-label for the treatment of HSDD.
  • Bupropion: Bupropion is an anti-depressant that can also be used for the treatment of HSDD. 
  • Testosterone: Testosterone is also sometimes prescribed for perimenopausal and menopausal women. Testosterone works by balancing the reproductive hormones in your body which typically control your sexual desire.
  • Vyleesi: Vyleesi is another medication specifically formulated for the treatment of HSDD in premenopausal women. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019.

Hormone therapy

If your HSDD is a result of vaginal dryness or pain, your healthcare provider may recommend estrogen in order to be more comfortable having sex which in turn could reverse symptoms of HSDD.

Psychotherapy 

The aim of psychotherapy is to treat the underlying cause of your diminished sexual desire. Sex therapy is the most common form of psychotherapy used for treating HSDD.

Lifestyle changes

Your healthcare provider will likely recommend a number of lifestyle changes to make in addition to other treatment options in order to help boost your libido long-term. This can include establishing a consistent exercise routine, providing you tools to help cope with stress, quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol, as well as communicating and setting aside intimate time to spend with your partner.

Tips to help increase your sex drive may include:

  1. Kegel exercises – these can increase blood flow and feeling to your genitals
  2. Talking with your partner about your likes and dislikes sexually 
  3. Exploring porn (movies, magazines, websites, or other entertainment) that brings you sexual pleasure
  4. Masturbating, possibly with vibrators or other sex toys if that feels good
  5. Reducing stress to improve your mood through things like getting more sleep, meditation, and breathing exercises
  6. Limiting alcohol and stopping smoking and using drugs
  7. Exercising regularly to improve your mood and give you more energy
  8. Talking with a counselor who specializes in sex and relationship problems

Conclusion

Dealing with HSDD can be very lonely for both you and your partner. It may cause you to feel frustrated that you don’t feel as aroused as you once used to. Your partner may also feel rejected or undesirable in the relationship. If you’ve been living with it, it’s important to know that it’s not your fault and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Seeking the appropriate treatment and finding coping mechanisms that work for you will have your sex life back on track in no time.

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