70% Of Women Say Low Libido Affects Their Relationship. So Why Aren’t They Seeking Help?

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The BDSM bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey, titillated the interest and expanded the sexual imaginations of millions of American women. Yet the results of a new sex survey reveal that many of those very women, in their own lives, in their own beds, are saying no: “Not tonight.” “I’ve got a headache.” “I’m just too f-ing tired.”


According to the 450-women survey, 27% of premenopausal women and 34% of postmenopausal women are very dissatisfied with their current level of sexual desire. And while more than 70% of those women say their relationships have suffered as a result, very few have sought help for it.


“The women in the survey didn’t even know [low desire] was an actual thing,” says Sheryl A. Kingsberg, PhD, professor of both reproductive biology and psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and author of an upcoming Journal of Women’s Health article on the survey. “They didn’t realize that low sexual desire is a medically recognized condition with a name—Female Sexual Interest and Arousal Disorder—and that there are places to go for treatment.”


It is and there are, stresses Kingsberg—sort of.


Yes, Female Sexual Interest and Arousal Disorder is in the latest edition of the diagnostician’s Bible—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM for short—and by all indications, it’s alarmingly prevalent. And while psychotherapy can be very helpful for women for whom flagging desire is psychological in origin, there are no FDA-approved drug treatments for low female sexual desire that’s biologically driven—no pink Viagras. And Kingsberg says, that makes many family docs loathe even to bring up sexual health during a routine exam. “They don’t have anything to offer patients, so the attitude is, ‘Why talk about it?’ ” she says. “Often, they don’t.”


Which means it’s up to you to bring it up.


“Low sexual desire truly is a silent epidemic among women,” says Louann Brizendine, MD, founder and director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco and author of The Female Brain. “Women feel they will be rejected by their partners and even judged by their friends if they tell the truth. They live in deep, deep shame.” The only answer for them personally, says Brizendine, and for women’s health in general is to break the silence. “Talk to your doctor, talk to your friends,” she says. “The problem deserves the attention—and you do, too.”


Brizendine recalls when Viagra hit the market 15 years ago: “Droves of men went to their GPs—doctors whom they had been seeing for 20 years or more—asking them for Viagra. The GPs had no idea their patients were having erectile dysfunction, because they had never asked and the guys had never volunteered the information—the fact that there was a solution broke their silence.” Brizendine says we need to break our silence now so that the FDA knows there’s demand for a solution.


Your first step: Stop by eventhescore.org—a website created by numerous women’s-sexual-health-concerned nonprofits to alert the FDA to the fact that there are now 26 drugs on the market to address male sexual dysfunction and not a single one for women. Your second: pop in to see your own doctor, and, if you need to, raise the issue. This is not something you need to suffer in silence.


In the meantime, these 20 just-for-women tips can help you start to want sex again.



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