Libido refers to instinctual and emotional drives related to sexual desire. It describes a person’s interest in sex and in being sexual. It consists of three interrelated aspects: Drive, Beliefs, and Motivation
Components of Low Libido
Drive is the biological component of libido. It begins with sexual thoughts and fantasies, involves erotic attraction to others, and culminates in the seeking out of sexual activity. Sex drive varies a great deal from woman to woman and can vary on a day-to-day basis depending on a woman’s daily activities, stress levels, and general health.
Beliefs are the attitudes one has formed about sex; attitudes shaped by culture, religion, family, peers and various media influences. A person’s beliefs about sex influence his or her sex drive. For instance, the more positive a person’s attitude is about sex, the greater is his or her desire to be a sexual being.
Motivation involves a willingness to behave sexually at a given time and with a given partner. Because emotional and interpersonal aspects drive it, motivation is the most complex and important component of desire. A caring relationship is often required for most women to experience sexual desire. 
Causes of Low Libido
In general, sex drive tends to decrease slowly with age in both men and women, but women are two to three times more likely to be affected by such a decline. Low sex drive in women often begins in their late 40’s and 50’s, but can vary: some women experience a significant decrease in sexual desire in their mid-life years, others notice no change, and a few report an increased interest in sex at mid-life. Women whose sexual desires have increased find it to be a result of no longer worrying about the possibility of pregnancy as well as to the new-found privacy of being an “empty nester.”
Low Libido During Menopause
During menopause, the physical effects of falling estrogen levels, including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, can affect sexual motivation and drive. Additionally, an age-related decrease in testosterone may reduce desire in menopausal women due to its complex role in female sex drive and sexual sensation. Also, women who go into instant menopause due to having their ovaries removed, or as a side effect of chemotherapy, often suffer a greater decrease in desire than women who experience menopause naturally.
For many women in menopause, a gradual decline in sexual desire does not impact their sexuality or quality of life. For others, a decreased libido is a source of distress, affecting their satisfaction with life and their sexual well-being. If a woman is troubled by a persistent or recurrent lack of desire, she might have "hypoactive sexual desire disorder," which is the most common sexual complaint among women. In some cases, a woman’s loss of desire is problematic because it frustrates her partner and may threaten to weaken their relationship. This may be the case if there is a pattern of avoiding or ignoring one’s partner’s romantic advances, especially when the most romantic and relaxing vacation or weekend away fails to spark any sexual interest.
Many of the books available within this category address sexuality and aging in a direct and encouraging light. Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty, Naked at Our Age, New Love and Sex After 60 and Sex Over 50 contend with issues of decreased libido related to age and menopause while Partners in Passion, Rhythms of Women’s Desire and Sex After… speak more about how women’s bodies and change over time and how women and partners can adapt to continue to have a healthy love life. MedAmour offers these and many other book titles that have been carefully curated to address low libido and other sexual health concerns.
Other Causes of Low Libido at Any Age
Studies show that when a woman experiences low libido, it is usually due to many complex emotional and physical issues. These issues may include hormone imbalance, fatigue and medical issues, conflicts with one’s partner, stress, self-esteem issues, and/or concern over an aging body.
A major scientific study of American women with low libido found they were most likely to be troubled by their lack of desire if they:
- Were in a long-term relationship with a partner
- Were 35 to 64 years old (at mid-life rather than older)
- Were depressed
To a lesser extent, urinary incontinence, anxiety, social issues, and problems with arousal or orgasm also played a role in determining how bothered women were by their low libido. Various studies suggest that a woman’s happiness with her overall relationship plays a vital role in sexual desire as well as any distress she may experience due to decreased libido.
What Can Help?
The devices suggested within this category focus, for the most part, on clitoral stimulation. As The Clitoral Truth suggests, stimulating this region may allow a woman to feel more aroused, allowing the possibility for intimacy with her partner. With multiple vibration levels and patterns in most external vibrators, women can experiment and find the setting that is perfect for them.
Talk to Your Health Care Provider
A woman may be reluctant to talk with her health care provider about problems in the bedroom, but should try to find the courage to do so. A healthy sex life is an important part of a woman’s well-being, and doctors can help treat low libido or direct patients to qualified counselors or sex therapists. The more open a woman is about her sexual health issues, the better her chances are of finding an effective treatment.
It is very important for a woman to engage in honest and open communication with her partner about her sexual needs or concerns. Although many couples never actually discuss sex, doing so can make a world of difference in their relationship and sex life.
Treatments for women with low libido include a combination of non-medical and medical approaches designed to address mental and physical well-being.
Non-medical approaches include:
- Practice open and honest communication with one’s partner about sexual needs, desires and dislikes
- Use lubricants to offset vaginal dryness and discomfort
- Try stimulating gels
- Take a warm, relaxing bath before sex to reduce anxiety
- Explore different sexual positions that provide more direct clitoral stimulation
- Implement lifestyle changes such as avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, getting more sleep and exercise, and quitting smoking
- Stress management (i.e. meditation, yoga, light exercise, etc.)
- Talk with a counselor or therapist who specializes in sexual and/or relationship problems
- Learn and practice Kegel exercises to help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor
- Seek treatment for pelvic pain if such pain is contributing to the problem
Medical approaches include:
- Estrogen therapy
- Testosterone therapy
- Treatment for depression or anxiety
- Treatment for any medical condition that may be contributing to sexual dysfunction
- Change medication that may be causing the problem
Recognizing and discussing low libido is the first step in getting help for this common disorder. Every person has the right to an enjoyable sex life!