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Factors affecting sexual desire

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The American Medical Association has estimated that several million US women suffer low sexual desire. Doctors and psychologists in South Africa estimate that the statistics in South Africa are similar.
Neurological/Mental Health

Did you know… That your brain is you biggest sex organ!
Sex drive originates from the limbic system and the hypothalamus – the most primitive areas of the brain.
In very simple terms, sex drive is generated by desire centres in the brain. These centres either produce naturally strong feelings of desire or naturally weaker feelings of desire. Desire also fluctuates depending on your emotional situation. If you have an argument with your partner, your desire will decrease, and if you feel loved and appreciated, your desire will increase.

Personal Wellbeing
This encompasses your feelings, your thoughts and your psychological health. How you think can alter your levels of sexual desire. If you have a low self esteem (your opinion of your self), you will find yourself undesirable which will affect your level of desire for your partner. Women who experience post-partum depression will also experience low sexual desire.

Physical Health
Your physical health can have a huge impact on your level of sexual desire. Obesity, diabetes, heart problems and age all affect libido. There are also certain medications that have a negative effect on sexual desire.
Hormones are another component of physical health, and often the biggest cause of low sexual desire. Women between the ages of 45 and 55 experience enormous hormonal imbalances when they go through menopause.
Hormones are also affected by the pill and other hormone-based contraception (speak to your doctor or sexologist for more information on which contraceptive pill does not affect sexual desire). Antidepressants have also been known to affect sexual desire.

Relationship Health
Desire for your partner is influenced by the state of your relationship. If you are in a fulfilling, loving and happy relationship your sexual desire will increase.
A conflict-filled, unhappy and unfulfilling relationship will affect your sexual desire. A lack of affection, respect or trust will also affect libido.
Lack of desire in a relationship could also be due to the demands of everyday life. Kids, lack of time, lack of privacy and lack of communication between partners.
Summary of the Causes of low sexual desire:

  • stress and fatigue
  • acute or chronic illness
  • drug or alcohol use or abuse
  • aging
  • medication use (including the pill, antidepressants and beta blockers)
  • depression
  • pregnancy and the postpartum period
  • surgical changes and gynecologic infections
  • hormonal changes (due to menopause, illness or medication)
  • relationship problems
  • previous sexual trauma
  • religious beliefs
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