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What is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?

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Medically reviewed by
OBGYN at Mercy Health - St Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital
Last updated September 29, 2022

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Care Plan

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First steps to consider

  • See your primary care provider to get a diagnosis and treatment. It’s important to rule out any underlying conditions that may be contributing to hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). You may be referred to a specialist.
  • Your treatment will be based on the cause of the condition. It may include supplements, medication, individual and couples therapy, and lifestyle changes.

What is hypoactive sexual desire disorder?

It’s normal for people to have different levels of sexual desire throughout their life. But if your libido (sex drive) has been low for a while, and it is upsetting you or affecting your relationship with your partner, you may have hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSSD).

HSSD is a clinical sexual disorder that causes symptoms like lack of sexual fantasies, reduced or no initiation of sexual activity, and absent or reduced sexual excitement or pleasure during sexual activity. These symptoms must be ongoing for at least 6 months to be considered HSSD.

Common causes of HSSD include menopause, hormone imbalances, and anxiety. Treatments vary depending on the cause and may include supplements, medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

HSSD is a clinical sexual disorder that causes symptoms like lack of sexual fantasies, reduced or no initiation of sexual activity, and absent or reduced sexual excitement or pleasure during sexual activity. These symptoms must be ongoing for at least 6 months to be considered HSSD.

Common causes of HSSD include menopause, hormone imbalances, and anxiety. Treatments vary depending on the cause and may include supplements, medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Symptoms

  • Absence or decreased interest in initiating or engaging in sexual activity
  • Absence or decreased spontaneous desire
  • Decreased response to sexual stimulation or cues
  • Reduced or loss of ability to stay interested in sexual activity
  • Avoiding situations that could lead to sexual activity
  • Upset by the thought of having sex
  • Experiencing high personal stress due to lack of sexual desire

Is there a quiz for HSDD?

While there isn’t a standardized quiz to help diagnose HSDD, there are many online tools that can help you diagnose and manage your symptoms.

  • Blueheart (app.blueheart.io) is a sex therapy app that asks questions about yourself and your sex life.
  • A HSDD quiz is on the flibanserin (Addyi) website (addyi.com). Flibanserin is an FDA-approved medication for HSDD in premenopausal women.
  • Sprout Pharmaceuticals’ website, screamforicecreamagain.com, includes a sexual desire quiz.
  • A HSDD quiz is on the bremelanotide (Vyleesi) website (vyleesi.com). Bremelanotide is an FDA-approved medication for HSDD in premenopausal women.

Causes

HSDD can be caused by a combination of factors, which may be biologic, psychological, and physical. Examples include:

Biologic

  • An imbalance in brain chemical levels (neurotransmitters)
  • Low levels of sex hormones like testosterone, estrogen, or thyroid hormone
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding

Psychological issues

  • Mental health problems like poor body image, stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Being told negative messages about sex, like that sex is shameful or sinful
  • Sexual abuse or trauma or a bad sexual experience

Physical

  • Chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, stroke, and multiple sclerosis
  • Injuries, like a trauma during childbirth
  • Medication side effects. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, pain medication, blood pressure medication, and chemotherapy can all decrease sexual desire.
  • Aging

Ready to treat your hypoactive sexual desire disorder?

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Preventative tips

  • Do Kegel or pelvic floor exercises, which help improve blood flow, sensation, and sexual function to the genital area.
  • Get regular exercise to boost your mood, energy, and self-image. Try to be active most days of the week.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, like meditation or yoga, to decrease stress.
  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can increase stress and make you too tired for sex.
  • Work on your relationship and communication skills with your partner. If you think you may need professional help to do this, consider couples counseling.
  • Try new sexual experiences—by yourself and with your partner.
  • Treat any chronic conditions you may have by taking your prescribed medication and following your doctor’s advice.
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OBGYN at Mercy Health - St Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital
Dr. Katz is a board-certified OBGYN, who is thrilled to have fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming a physician and helping women of all ages and backgrounds be in the best health possible and get access to top level care. She received her undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan (2006) and graduated from Des Moines University of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (2011)...
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