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. 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).

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.

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

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

How is sexual desire disorder treated?

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. It is essential to understand what components of desire are involved to determine appropriate treatments. Treatment options may include cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy), couples sex therapy, and / or medications (hormone therapy, Addyi).

Additional Resources

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