A person’s sexual desire will naturally fluctuate over the course of their lifetime, increasing in some periods and decreasing in others. However, if an individual finds that they are consistently lacking desire and are generally uninterested in sex, they may have hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).
People with HSDD experience little to no sexual desire or sex drive and find that it results in personal or relational distress. If you have a low or absent sex drive and it does not bother you, it is not considered HSDD.
It is important to note that low desire can be related to other medical conditions or changes in a person’s body, such as low testosterone for men or menopause for women. Therefore, it is a good idea to rule out potential medical causes of low desire with a primary care provider in addition to experimenting with options from the following list of ways to enhance your sexual desire.
Address any underlying relationship issues.
Sometimes, a lack of sexual desire stems from a problem in a couple’s relationship that needs to be addressed. If you and your partner are experiencing emotional difficulties, it may benefit your relationship and your sex life to talk about these issues and try to find common ground. If you do not know where to begin, consider involving a counselor, psychologist, or sex therapist to help guide the conversation. A sex therapist may also be able to educate you and your partner on certain therapies or methods that may improve desire such as sensate focus, cognitive behavior therapy, and mindfulness.
Make lifestyle changes if necessary.
Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet have been shown to have positive effects on a person’s libido and sexual satisfaction, so making constructive changes in these areas may enhance your desire. Additionally, since stress can be detrimental to desire, finding ways to effectively manage stress (e.g., yoga, meditation, therapy, etc.) may also be beneficial.
Improve your knowledge of sex and explore sexual interests.
Though it may seem dry at first blush, learning more about the body’s sexual anatomy and sexual response cycle may lead to increased desire. In this way, you equip yourself with valuable information about what might be pleasurable and which sexual activities you may enjoy. What’s more, newer models of the sexual response cycle suggest that desire can be responsive, meaning that it can occur after sexual stimulation. With this in mind, you might find it helpful to explore possible sexual interests through masturbation or with a partner to see if the experience prompts desire.
Talk to your health care provider about medications.
Some medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, are known to dampen sexual desire. If you believe that your medications may be negatively impacting your libido, speak to your health care provider about options for modifying the dosage or the type of medication you are taking. There are also medications available for increasing desire, including off-label options, such as estrogen therapy for women, testosterone therapy for men and women, flibanserin, and bremelanotide, among others.
There are several ways that a person can enhance their sexual desire. If one approach does not work for you or suit your needs, think about trying another approach or consulting your health care provider about other possible treatment options.
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Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-pleasure-and-sexual-dysfunction/sexual-dysfunction/hypoactive-sexual-desire-disorder-hsdd
Sexual Medicine Society of North America. (n.d.). Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.smsna.org/patients/conditions/hsdd