The female libido can be a tricky thing, and many women experience low sexual desire (libido). Some may start out with a low sex drive, and others may experience decreased libido after menopause, childbirth, or surgery. Whatever the cause, rest assured that there are ways to increase the female libido, as long as you identify and treat the underlying cause.

Low libido can place a severe strain on a relationship. If one partner has a very low libido (“very” is important: not just a little different, but significantly decreased from the other partner), treating the problem can save the relationship.

The cure for such a lack of desire depends on the cause:

  • Depression: If a woman suffers from depression, then she probably doesn’t want to have sex. If she gets help for her depression first, then her libido will probably go up by itself. A woman may also suffer depression after a hysterectomy and should talk to her doctor about counseling. If the woman also has her ovaries removed (an oophorectomy), she is thrown into “early menopause,” which brings its own set of problems.

  • Childbirth: New moms sometimes get so emotionally tied up with their babies, not to mention so tired from lack of sleep, that they lose interest in sex. Although these new mothers may have some very good reasons for not wanting to have sex, using them can be a mistake.

    You may have to make a conscious effort to put the spark back into your sex life. Get a grandparent to baby-sit (they’ll love it) or hire a baby sitter and go out with your husband for a romantic evening. If the baby is a light sleeper, or if you have other distractions in the house, rent a hotel room. But don’t just let sex slide.

  • Menopause: The production of a woman’s sex hormones declines during menopause, causing certain side effects that can affect a woman’s sex life. But menopause doesn’t have to mean an end to sex. In fact, many women find they have a stronger desire for sex after menopause because they no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant. Plus, menopause is a time when women and their husbands have more privacy because their kids have grown up and moved out.

    You may have to make some adjustments for menopause, such as using a lubricant, but you can still have a satisfactory sex life. And remember: an expectation of a low libido often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lately, much talk has focused on the effects of hormones on women who lose their desire for sex. Some people say to take estrogen or testosterone. Taking one of these hormones in pill form can help some women’s libidos, but the same is true of taking a placebo (a sugar pill). At this point, no absolute proof exists that taking hormones can safely alleviate lowered sexual desire in postmenopausal women. You can certainly check with your gynecologist, but make sure that you listen very carefully to the risks when your doctor discusses this subject.

No woman should expect to have lowered desire or do nothing about the condition if it occurs. You absolutely should speak with your doctor and consult with a sex therapist if you have no medical problem. The most important thing you can do is not to accept such a condition without putting up a fight. Take a multilevel approach to finding a remedy, including talking yourself into having sex, seeing your doctor, and, if need be, seeing a sex therapist.

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