Low libido in women and sudden loss of sex drive are the most common sexual complaint among women of all ages, seeking help from a professional. Unfortunately, most of the literature discussing the causes of low libido leaves out the most important factor: are these women really getting the kind of sex they want?

Other articles also talk about women needing intimacy or being negatively affected by a partner’s performance issues. What again they don’t talk about is the real underlying issue: the fact that women need much more varied and specific sexual and psychological stimulation to be interested in sex.

What Causes the Sudden Loss of Sex Drive in Females?

One of the most common questions we get asked from women and their partners refers to what causes the sudden loss of sex drive in a woman. While many people perceive the loss of sex drive as an abrupt or unforeseen event, generally, decreased libido in women happens over time and as they age. Usually, a woman will continue to have sex with a partner long after her low libido has presented itself, and only much later decide to tell her partner she no longer wants to have sex.

Another frequent cause for the sudden loss of sex drive is due to hormonal adjustments, or extreme life changes like the loss of a loved one, moving, or a big change in your diet. Be cautious about going straight to estrogen solutions. They can have detrimental effects on your body and should only be seen as a last resort. Consider getting rid of shame about sex and strive for better sexual experiences instead.

Causes for Female Low Libido

Lack of Emotional Intimacy

If the sex you are getting over and over again is not arousing or is actually turning you off, you will lose interest in sex and your overall libido will eventually drop off.

Only too often, at the root is the lack of emotional intimacy. For women, sex starts much earlier than the act itself. More often than not, the kind of seduction women want might not look sexual at all. If they don’t get enough emotional foreplay, they are less likely to feel turned on. Emotional foreplay can include asking her how she is feeling, taking her on a romantic date, and most importantly, giving her access to your emotions about her.

Because of the compartmentalization of sex, and its restrictive definition in our culture as the sole act of touching genitals, many women don’t get this emotional need met adequately, get turned off and lose their sex drive.

Not Knowing What Arouses You

Women are more likely to experience low libido when they have been taught since childhood to distance themselves from their desire. They often do not explore what turns them on, and don’t know how to elicit that turn on for themselves. Unfortunately, even if they have a good idea of how they want to be seduced or touched, they do not feel comfortable telling their partner. They are afraid of being perceived as overly sexual, demanding, or of hurting their partner’s feelings.

A Buildup of Resentment in the Relationship

After being with someone for a while, you may begin to build up resentment in your relationship. This is a huge cause of low libido in women. The resentment may be sex-related, or may have to do with something completely different. Any two people will have differences in their relationship that make them end up being uncomfortable or unfulfilled. Letting different needs, approaches to life, etc. go on without talking about them creates distance, tension, and sexual shut-down. If your low libido is caused by resentment, you may still feel desire for sex while lacking desire for your partner.

Loss or Lack of Attraction to Your Partner

People get into relationships for many reasons – and don’t always take sexual attraction into account. It is possible you were never particularly sexually attracted to your partner, but felt enough love and connection at the beginning to have sex and make a commitment.

Likewise, that initial attraction could have faded over time. Loss of attraction can happen due to changing personalities, or a shift in appearance from weight gain, muscle loss, etc. You may still feel some sexual desire – just not for your partner.

You are Overly Busy and Stressed Out

As we get older, our responsibilities almost inevitably increase, leading to higher stress levels and a lack of time for pleasurable activities. This is also a big predictor for low libido in women or sudden loss of sex drive. Changes in job responsibilities, having children, or challenging life experiences like being laid off or having a parent die can all get in the way of your interest in sex. Sex may seem trivial or like an indulgence in comparison to all of the other things on your plate.

You Have Painful Sex

Painful sex can be a huge factor for low libido in women. If sexual experiences get paired with painful experiences, you won’t only avoid sex, you may actually lose interest entirely. After all, most people don’t have a high desire to do something that causes them pain, over and over again.

You Have a History of Sexual Abuse or Trauma

A history of sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or sexual trauma can cause loss of sex drive in women. Especially if you have not had trauma therapy, these types of events create a high tendency to avoid re-traumatizing or triggering experiences. A triggering event can make a person feel like they are experiencing the trauma over again, as though it is happening in the present moment. Thinking about sex or having sex may bring up these triggers, so people with trauma history learn to disconnect from their desire and dissociate from their body.

Body Image

Negative body image is another source of low libido in women. Too many feel they only deserve sexual satisfaction if they have a particular body-type. Women are under tremendous societal and cultural pressures to fit the “perfect body” type. They feel self-conscious and unable to engross in a sexual experience because they have such a poor body image. When they do have sex, they get less enjoyment out of it because they are spectatoring – watching their body, instead of feeling the pleasure of it.

Medications May Impact libido

There are some medications that can also cause low libido in women. Antidepressants –  which many women take – can decrease sex drive and lower a woman’s ability to orgasm. If are suffering from female low libido and are taking antidepressants, definitely ask your doctor if there are alternative antidepressants that will be less likely to dampen your desire. Birth control pills can also cause low libido in women.

Treatment for Low Libido in Women

The Medical Approach to Loss of Sex Drive in Women

In general, medical doctors offer very little help for low libido in women. As of this writing, there is no pill approved by the FDA to helps women increase their libido – though some women take prescription testosterone to boost their sex drive. Taking testosterone however can have negative side effects such as increased body hair, mood changes, and acne. While estrogen has been shown to help with vaginal dryness or thinning of the vaginal walls, it has not been shown to cause an increase in female libido.

Sex and Relationship Coaching to Increase Your Libido

As a non-medical solution to overcoming low sex drive, a sex coach can help you figure out what the most likely cause of your low libido is. They will support you in shifting your self-image, your approach to day-to-day life, and to your relationship with your partner to help you achieve the sex life you want.

If you are distanced from your desires because of negative messages around sex, in particular a sex coach practicing the Somatica method can guide you to get in touch with your body. They teach you how to overcome body-image issues, and help identify what you find arousing. Embodiment exercises such a breathing, movement, and touch are part of the practice, and discussion around turn-ons and fantasies is provided in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

A Somatica coach can guide you on how to actively receive pleasure, lovingly and seductively ask for what you want, and teach your partner how to give you the seduction you need.

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Danielle Harel
Danielle Harel, PhD is the Co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the Co-Founder of the Somatica® Institute. She trains coaches in the Somatica® Method of Sex and Relationship Coaching. She has her own private practice in Sunnyvale, where she supports her clients in having amazing sex and relationships as well as passion-fueled lives. She has published original research on Orgasmic Birth and is the co-author of two books, Cockfidence - The Definitive Guide to Being the Man You Want to Be and Driving Women Wild and Making Love Real - The Intelligent Couples Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion. Danielle Has her Masters in Clinical Social Work From Haifa University in Israel and her PhD in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS). She is a Clinical Sexologist and a Certified Sexological Bodyworker. Danielle is a Certified Body Positive Facilitator and took many trainings in embodied and mindfulness based therapeutic approaches such as Hakomi.