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Shedding light on a cause of low sexual desire

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Sexual desire and the brain. Frustrating low sexual desire is an actual medical condition called HSDD.

So, you’ve discovered that frustrating low sexual desire is an actual medical condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD. Great. Good to know. But now you might be wondering how, biologically speaking, someone’s sexual desire becomes “hypoactive” (less than normally active) in the first place—and what can be done about it.

The first answer lies in what’s often called the most important human sex organ. (Hint: it’s not “down there.” It’s “up here,” between your ears.)

The brain.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear that we’re not saying that having no sex drive is “all in your head.” Not in the way that some women have been told, a way that dismisses or minimizes their problem as something that can be fixed by “just relaxing” or having a glass of wine.

We’re talking medical science. Researchers have known for a long time that our brains play a starring role in sexual desire. The exact mechanism hasn’t been pinned down yet, but it’s thought that low sexual desire is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain.

It’s believed that sexual desire is regulated by chemicals—specific neurotransmitters and hormones—in the brain. Some work to excite sexual desire and others work to inhibit it. When these are activated and in balance, the result is a desire to have sex. But if they’re out of balance? Sexual desire may be reduced—or gone.

Researchers have known for a long time that our brains play a starring role in sexual desire.

So, can anything be done about low sexual desire?

Yes. (Did you think we’d make you sit through that sex-and-the-brain stuff just to leave you hanging?)

Understanding how sexual desire works has led scientists to devise ways to help when it doesn’t work. There are treatments for HSDD, and the first step to finding one that’s right for you is to talk to your healthcare provider.

Make that conversation an unblushing one. That means don’t be embarrassed. Be direct. And honest. Tell your healthcare provider about the ways that having low sexual desire has affected your life. Have you felt depressed because of it? Has your relationship suffered? If having low sexual desire has ever made you feel angry or guilty, or if your self-esteem or body image have taken a hit because of it, bring it up. Remember, there’s no single lab test to confirm low sexual desire; your doctor can’t know there’s anything wrong—and how much it frustrates you—unless you say so. If you want your sexual desire back, now’s the time to speak up.

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About the Author
unblush
unblush is a community of women speaking up about the impact of loss of sexual desire—and ways to confront it.
  • This has been ruling my life for years. I thought I was going crazy. Thank you so much for talking about this.
    5 months ago
    • Rachel we know that it can be hard, but we're here for you. Thanks for sharing your story!
      5 months ago
    • Mine has been for 8 years. I totally understand. I cry about it and the stress just makes things worse since extreme stress can cause hormones to crash which can also cause low libido. So, we have to find help for the HSDD while keeping our bodies, our emotions, and mental health stable.
      1 month ago
  • I was blaming my past abuse for my lack of interest in sex. Although I'm sure it has something to do with it, I'm interested to find out more about this condition. This article is very informative.
    5 months ago
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