Women and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

If I don’t want to have sex with my partner, is there something wrong with me?

Written by: Kayla Mooney

It can be a tricky relationship situation in which to find yourself. You are in a relationship with your ideal partner, and things are going well. Yet, for some reason, you are not craving sex, and you can’t exactly pinpoint the reason why. You find yourself attracted to your partner, but you rarely – if ever – have the desire to initiate or engage in sex. You care deeply for your partner and want to accommodate their sexual needs, but when the time comes, you find yourself unreceptive to their sexual advances. Experiencing such conflicting thoughts can be extremely distressing, and may even drive a wedge in your romantic relationship. It can be very difficult to communicate to your partner that while you love and care for him/her deeply, you simply do not feel the desire to have sex. You may wonder, is there something wrong with me if I don’t want to have sex with my partner?

The answer to that question is no: there is not something wrong with you. If this situation is all too familiar for you, you are not the only one. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women will suffer from a disorder known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder. This disorder is categorized by significant deficits in sexual fantasies and desire, deficits that cause significant distress. Given the nature of the disorder, it is commonly associated with relationship difficulties.

What might be the cause of your decreased sexual desire? Unfortunately, the exact cause may never be known: a single or a combination of factors may cause lowered sexual desire. However, prior research has uncovered some potential causes of lower sexual desire:

  • Psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems, or poor body image
  • Physical causes such as hormonal imbalance or changes, chronic pain, certain medical conditions, aging, menopause, or childbirth
  • Certain medications (such as those for blood pressure, some antidepressants, and some for diabetes)

For many women, sexuality is an important component of overall health and quality of life. Many women assume that decreased sexual desire over time is a normal consequence of life. However, it doesn’t have to be this way: if you recognize that your lack of sexual desire is becoming troubling or problematic – to you or your relationship – this can be the first step towards making a positive change for your sexuality. Discuss the problem with your partner, and consider the guidance of a professional. Seeking the help of a counselor, a sex therapist, or a physician may be helpful. Treatment may also require advice from more than one professional: sexual desire can be linked to biological, psychological, interpersonal, and/or sociocultural factors, so if you seek the help of a professional and you don’t find it helpful, don’t get discouraged!

It may seem like little attention has been given to women’s sexual dysfunctions: male sexual difficulties, such as erectile dysfunction, have long received public attention, and medications to address such problems have been in existence for quite some time. The good news is that female sexual dysfunctions are increasingly being discussed and researched; with the recent advent of the “female Viagra” (also known as Flibanserin or Allyi), this marks a significant step towards improving our knowledge and treatment of female sexual dysfunctions.



Kingsberg, S. (2010). Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: When is low sexual desire a sexual dysfunction? The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(8), 2907-2908. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01948.x

Image credit: Flickr user pedrosimoes7