Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Things Men Should Know About Female Hormones

Changing Hormones, Changing Libido
Changes in hormone levels can affect libido.
Changes in hormone levels can affect libido.
David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Despite the fact that they're called "sex hormones," we almost got through this list without really mentioning sex ... until now. A woman's sex drive is already somewhat more precarious than a man's. For example, it typically takes more to get her in the mood than just viewing an attractive body. But how much of this has to do with hormones?

Women's hormones do figure prominently in a healthy libido; many women who have sexual dysfunction (which includes a lack of sex drive and sexual arousal) also have lowered estrogen levels. However, there are many other factors that affect libido -- it's not just about the hormones. These might include other health conditions, certain medications or lifestyle factors like drug or alcohol abuse. Sexual dysfunction in women can also be linked to a lack of intimacy, depression or body image issues. Treating it can be a challenge because there are so many possible causes.

However, it's also perfectly normal for a woman's libido to change over the course of her lifetime. When hormones are surging during adolescence, both men and women have higher libidos. As those hormone levels stabilize, a woman's libido is more likely to do the same. Then it could decrease as she matures and adds in environmental factors like birth control and job stress. And as we've mentioned, libido often goes down during menopause. But post-menopausal women may experience an increase in their libido once their hormones level off again.