Sexual Desire Disorder

Low sexual desire commonly develops years after experiencing normal sexual desire. This disorder may be related to traumatic events, sexual fantasy suppression, or hormonal deficiencies. There are many possible causes to low sexual desire including boredom in a relationship, mental disorders such as depression, or the use of certain kinds of medications (for example: anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and some that treat high blood pressure).

Symptoms of low sexual desire may include:

  • Lack of interest in sexual activity and/or sexual thoughts or fantasies
  • Reduced or no initiation of sexual activity
  • No or little sexual excitement or pleasure during sexual activity
  • Reduced, or absent, genital sensations during sexual activity

What causes low sexual desire disorder?

It is normal for sexual desire to change over time and these feelings may come and go depending on what you're experiencing in life at the moment. When the lack of interest in sexual activity persists and causes distress, it may be reasonable to seek treatment. 

You may be at risk for sexual desire disorder if you:

  • Have a negative attitude about sexuality
  • Are in a difficult relationship 
  • Have experienced childhood stressors
  • Are depressed and/or anxious
  • Have a history of physical or emotional abuse
  • Are experiencing life stressors (job loss, grief)
  • Abuse alcohol

Treating Sexual Desire Disorder

Balance Women's Health providers recognize the importance of an individualized plan to treat sexual desire disorder. Diagnosing sexual desire disorder usually includes a healthcare provider asking questions to learn more about your sexual history, previous and current sexual interests. Your health care provider may also ask about experiences with sexual trauma, history of mental illnesses like depression, and investigate relationship issues that may exist. Additionally, your provider may request a blood test to measure hormone levels. 

Sexual desire is a complex interplay between sexual drive and spontaneous interest (feeling "horny"), a person's expectations, beliefs and values related to sex, as well as the willingness to engage in sexual activity. It is essential to understand what components of desire are involved to determine appropriate treatments. 

Treatment options may include:

  • Individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or couples sex therapy
  • Medications (hormone therapy, Addyi)

Additional Resources

Flibanserin (Addyi)


Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.