Many women experience a low sex drive at some point in their lives. 

It’s incredibly common and there can be a number of reasons for this – including relationship strains, stress or as a result of an underlying medical problem.

Recent research has even found that poor sleep can nearly double sex-related issues in women.

Of course, everyone’s sex drives are different so there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ libido.

But if you feel like you haven’t been in the mood for a long time, experts have shared some important things to look out for and consider, as well as different ways to help improve your libido. 

Symptoms of low sex drive:

According to Mayo Clinic there are three signs of a low sex drive:

  • Having no interest in any type of sexual activity, including masturbation.
  • Never or only seldom having sexual fantasies or thoughts.
  • Being concerned by your lack of sexual activity or fantasies.

What can cause low sex drive in women?

Hormones

Neil Wilkie, a psychotherapist and creator of the online therapy platform The Relationship Paradigm, says ‘the female sex hormones are oestrogen and testosterone’ can play a role, and that these ‘normally reduce around menopause and can cause a reduction in libido.’

This can also happen after having a baby.

Of course other factors may trigger this, too, such as anxiety and depression medication or the contraceptive pill. 

Boredom 

Neil says: ‘Lockdown has caused a reduction in levels of sex. Netflix and Deliveroo may fill the evenings but also create a Groundhog Day where changing the pattern is hard work.’

Fatigue

‘Good sex takes energy. If a woman is feeling tired because of the pressures on them or feeling unwell, then sex slides down to the bottom of the to do list,’ adds Neil.

Their partner no longer turns them on 

Neil stresses this can be a common problem with couples that don’t talk about sex and what they would like more and less of. 

He adds: ‘Couples assume that their partner can read their mind and should know what they want. The result is that neither gets what they want and both end up feeling disappointed. Waking up on Saturday morning to face the weekly few minutes of disappointing sex is not very motivational.’

Change in feelings

Neil says: ‘Love and sex are intertwined, and many women find it hard to have sex with someone that they have drifted apart from and no longer feel connected to or in love with.’

Low self-esteem

Hypnotherapist Andrew Pearson tells Metro.co.uk: ‘As a therapist, I see many women suffering from low self-esteem and it is sadly not be too much of a surprise when they tell me their sex life is suffering.

‘We live in a sexualised world where women are constantly bombarded with ideals around beauty and sexuality. It can leave us feeling that when we get into bed we are rank amateurs in a world of professionals.’

Stress, depression and anxiety

‘It’s very difficult to enjoy sex if you are worrying about work, are feeling emotionally drained or that life is just not worth living,’ adds Andrew.

How to improve libido?

Start with a clear, honest conversation

Dr. Katherine Hertlein, a couples therapist and expert advisor at Blueheart, explains that many couples who seek therapy haven’t previously sat down and spoken about the problems they’re facing together – or perhaps not in a way that’s effective. 

She says: ‘The key thing is to be honest and non-judgmental with each other. If you’re not honest, your relationship can become a bit of a guessing game, with both of you jumping to conclusions and creating false narratives which can further entrench the problem.

‘For example, if you’re too tired to have sex, or just not feeling it, say so. You might be tempted to make excuses but really it’s about sitting down and speaking openly about it.

‘No one needs to feel defensive, or start blaming the other – you both need to come at the discussion from a place of understanding and empathy.’ 

Speak to a GP

If you think that anxiety, depression, hormones, an underlying condition or trauma could be the reason for your loss of libido, then it’s important to chat to a GP.

A switch of medication, some hormone tests or therapy could all help getting your sex drive back.

Switch up your routine

Boredom makes everything feel less sexy, so be sure to switch things up a bit.

Plan date nights, massages or anything else that might help to get you in the mood. Experiencing new activities with a partner can also create bonds and add a touch more excitement. 

Be honest about your desires

Dr. Katherine Hertlein says: ‘If you find that sex has become more of a chore than a pleasurable escape or chance to connect, then it’s time for you to rethink your pleasure and communicate it with your partner. 

‘Previously, you may have had a favourite sex position or something specific that excited you. But over time our desires change and trying new things can help us find what works for us now. Exploring new things in your sex life also brings a level of excitement to sex and a chance to have fun with your partner.’

Dr. Katherine also says don’t underestimate the power of quick sex. 

She adds: ‘The quality of the sex you have is not defined by the length, it’s about what feels best and right at the time.’

Eat well and be kind to yourself

Dr. Katherine explains that a healthy diet and lifestyle is more important than you might think.

She says: ‘Basic changes eating healthily, drinking lots of water, and going out for some exercise – even if it’s just a quick walk – every day will really help.

‘It’s such simple advice but lots of people forget to do this daily and it can really make a difference to your state of mind, which can impact your sense of self, your feelings of groundedness, and could positively impact your levels of desire.’

Don’t put pressure on

‘Move away from making sex a goal-oriented experience,’ adds Dr. Katherine.

‘It’s about taking your time, enjoying each other and finding intimacy and connection. Not only will this take the pressure off of yourself and your partner, but it’s also a chance to learn what you find sensual.

‘Think of it as a blank slate and a chance to explore what you enjoy without the time pressure or end goal – you don’t have to orgasm. Just see what feels good and what induces desire (this could be as simple as kissing for a while, stroking your partner, or oral sex, having your partner touch a certain spot, incorporating sex toys, or something more visual).’

Reintroduce connection rituals

For lots of women, sex is about intimacy, so it can be a good idea to reintroduce habits that might help with physical and emotional closeness – something that may have fallen under the radar if you are in a long-term relationship.

Dr. Katherine says: ‘You could start by asking your partner for a cuddle for a few minutes each morning before you get up. 

‘This will introduce a new point of physical intimacy into your daily routine, which may then lead to creating moments that lead to sex. Try to introduce these moments at a point in the day that works for you and your partner, to help differentiate between time near each other and time with each other.

‘Making this time to touch can help you and your partner bond. This is not just about touching sexually, but cuddling, kissing, tickling, holding hands, or hugging. All little acts of affection can help you to bond with your partner and ensure that you connect romantically, regularly.’

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