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Low Sexual Desire in Women and Men: Causes and Treatment

Dr. Shabsigh says,”if you want sex to be sensational and you want to have it for as long as you live, it must be pursued in the context of better overall health.” He believes that sexual function relates to the health of the mind and body, and understanding these connections can lead to a lifetime of pleasurable reward.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

Hypoactive sexual desires refer to the recurring absence of a desire for sexual activity. Sexual aversion disorder refers to the persistent avoidance of sexual contact with a partner. There are many factors that can contribute to the lack of sexual desire, which may be internal (testosterone deficiency) or external (caused by medications or alcohol abuse). The problems may also be rooted in the parasympathetic nervous system (the PSNS), imparting a neurological cause for the disorder.

Discrepancy in Sexual Desires

Differences in sexual desires between partners can lead to “desire discrepancy,” where one partner simply desires sexual activity less often than the other partner. This does not necessarily mean that one partner has a medical disorder, but if it is solely a relationship issue, the partners will need to work together to resolve the issue. Low desire resulting in desire discrepancy may be more common in elderly women, as a result of menopause. Additionally, diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, and more serious illnesses such as cancer have been linked to low sexual desire.

If disease is present anywhere in the body, Dr. Shabsigh’s holistic approach to sexual dysfunction seeks to halt or reverse it. The best way to avoid any ailment or improve the effectiveness of any treatment—while ensuring a lifetime of sexual enjoyment—is a comprehensive lifestyle approach. This strategy incorporates healthy dietary habits, regular exercise, avoiding self-destructive behaviors, proper supplementation for overall and sexual health, stress reduction, and dedicated attention to a sexual partner.

Treating Low Sexual Desire in Women

For women, treatment with testosterone has been effective, but the FDA doesn’t currently approve this treatment. Any woman who uses these products must be closely monitored by her physician, and must watch out for adverse side effects such as unwanted hair growth or changes in their voice. Additionally, dietary supplements such as DHEA, L-arginine, Korean ginseng, gingko biloba, and damiana have been shown to improve sexual desire. The medical community is anxious to see how this promising alternative continues to perform in clinical trials.

Dr. Shabsigh has focused his research on the treatment of male and female sexual dysfunctions. He has also participated in numerous trials on agents used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation, hypogonadism and female sexual dysfunction. He currently serves as an investigator for efficacy and safety trials on a variety of new medications and devices.

Causes and Treatment of Low Sexual Desire in Men

Low sexual desire in men is also relatively common, although it doesn’t affect as many men as women. It can be caused by illness or side effects of medications, as well as by stress or increasing age. However, it is not normal for such conditions to persist over a long period of time, as this is indicative of a health condition that may need medical treatment. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) occurs in an estimated 5% of men younger than 45, but increases in prevalence as men age. It affects 10% of men between 45 and 60, and over 20% of men over 60. HSDD can be caused by a number of factors, including stress from relationships, job, finances and family. Counseling could significantly help. Additionally, drug and alcohol abuse can cause damage to the nervous system, and subsequently affect the nerves responsible for sexual desire. Improving self-esteem and overall health through regular exercise, can help improve desire and sexual health.

Another cause of HSDD is low testosterone, and a blood test can check to determine if testosterone is within the normal range. Men who have abnormally low testosterone have a decline in overall arousal and masturbation, low sex drive, fewer sexual fantasies, and experience difficulty with erections. If testosterone is the underlying cause of HSDD, it can be easily treated.

According to Dr. Shabsigh, “Everyone can have better sex, whether a person is 25 and in peak physical condition, 40 and experiencing the first signs of declining health, 55 with a heart condition, or 70 with multiple health issues. And most people can have it without medical intervention.”