Girlfriend won’t have sex with you? It’s not uncommon to feel periods of stress, fatigue, or anxiety causing a lack of intimate desire.
Sometimes it only lasts a day or so, and in particularly trying times, sometimes a week to a month. But how do you know when it’s more than everyday stress? And when should you become concerned about the lack of desire in yourself or your partner? If you’re experiencing a lack of desire lasting more than six months, you may be suffering from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).
(This is a guest post by Karlyn Quinn of ForHers.com. It was a collaboration and is not a sponsored post. LGB supports collaboration and encourages you to check out hers for a variety of women’s health information).
What is HSDD?
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, also known as female arousal disorder, is a clinically recognized dysfunction that affects approximately one in every ten women. It’s a condition that is very easy to overlook as it produces the same symptoms experienced from being tired, stressed, or from the aging process, mainly a low or absent sexual desire and interest. A mismatched libido can take quite a toll on a person’s state of mental health and one’s ability to maintain a healthy relationship with their partner.
How to recognize HSDD
With such ambiguous symptoms, how can you tell if your decreased sex drive is due to run-of-the-mill stress and anxiety, or if you’re dealing with a condition like HSDD?
For starters, HSDD is different from routine stress because the lack of desire to be intimate with another lasts for at least six months and often longer as the disorder doesn’t typically resolve itself. If that’s the case, the next step is to assess the frequency and intensity of your sexual thoughts and dreams, or lack thereof, over the past six months. Perhaps it’s not just a lack of lust for your partner, but a complete absence of sexual yearning. For instance, have you been avoiding masturbation? Even if you haven’t been avoiding it entirely, have you been doing it less frequently or have you noticed that it is not as enjoyable as it used to be?
HSDD looks different on everyone who is experiencing it. Someone with the disorder may only be experiencing one of the symptoms listed above, or they may be experiencing a combination of multiple symptoms. Additionally, someone with HSDD might still be having sex with their partner but may find that it is difficult to enjoy it as much as they usually would, and find that they are not the one to initiate it.
What causes HSDD?
Several factors may be causing HSDD including health issues like diabetes, heart disease, or a decrease in your body’s production of hormones. Your diet, activity level, and factors such as age, extreme fatigue, and pregnancy can also lower your sex drive. Pay close attention to the medications you’re currently on, too, as certain types can affect your level of sexual interest.
Out of all these factors, the most common cause of HSDD is the emotional reaction to a traumatic life event or anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, many medications used to treat mental health conditions, such as certain antidepressants, can cause or worsen HSDD.
As frustrating and mentally exhausting as suffering from HSDD can be, there are options available to treat these symptoms and get your libido back to normal (for your sake, and your partner’s). If you can relate with any of these symptoms and believe you may be experiencing HSDD, it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor. Be sure to have a list of the symptoms you are experiencing, as well as your current medications and their dosage, so your doctor can begin to rule out or confirm any potential causes of your low sex drive. It’s also important to be open and honest with your doctor about your lifestyle including diet, activity level, and smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and drug use.
From there, if a change in medication, increased exercise, and implementing healthier habits doesn’t seem to help increase your sex drive, there are medications available to treat HSDD that your doctor can prescribe. The first and only FDA-approved prescription treatment for HSSD is flibanserin, or Addyi — a huge breakthrough for women. For decades, men have had several options to choose from when suffering from erectile dysfunction. For once, women FINALLY have a medical option to help with their libido, too.
Relationships + HSDD
Experiencing HSDD is a struggle on its own, but suffering while in a relationship brings on an entirely new set of stress, hurdles, and challenges because it’s not just yourself being affected. When you experience low sex drive, anxiety, and depression in a committed relationship, it usually doesn’t have anything to do with your partner, but it might be difficult for her not to take the blame. If you’re a partner of someone struggling with HSDD, here’s some advice that might help. When we deny our partner intimacy, especially on a consistent basis, she may begin to feel as though it is her fault. Often times, she will feel that she is not attractive enough, or that she isn’t performing well enough, which can lead to tension and arguments; especially when coupled with feelings of anxiety and depression preventing you from being fully present in your relationship.
The best way to work through this is consistent open communication.
Describe to her how you’re feeling and explain your concerns about your state of health. Instead of isolating her and leaving her to wonder what’s wrong, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and ask for her help in seeking solutions. If possible, go to doctor appointments together. This will help her to understand what you’re going through, and it will help you to feel less alone. Additionally, ask her for help in implementing a healthier diet, keeping you accountable to break bad habits like smoking, and even scheduling a time to work out together regularly. Not only will you foster a support system, but you will get to spend meaningful time together, getting to know each other on a deeper level.
Remember, HSDD is not permanent, though it may take some time to manage your symptoms.
The best solution is a combined effort of lifestyle changes and medication if necessary. If you can relate to the information above, or if you believe your partner may be struggling with HSDD, do not push off seeking medical advice. Advocate for yourself and take care of yourself, especially if you have a loving partner who needs you and wants to see you living your life to the fullest!