Obviously, lifestyle factors also influence the desire for sex. A single working mom who is overwhelmed by family needs may feel too exhausted to relax, kick back and fantasize about sex — let alone engage in it! However, sometimes a medical condition is the underlying cause of low libido, including:
- Medication Use: Many commonly prescribed drugs, such as antihypertensives, antidepressants and birth control pills, interfere with sex drive, arousal and orgasm by affecting the balance of sexual hormones and the transmission of chemical messengers. For instance, antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors combat depression by increasing the production of serotonin in the brain. Unfortunately, serotonin dampens sexual desire.
- Menopause: The onset of menopause, either surgical or natural, is characterized by a gradual decline of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Reduced testosterone levels, in particular, say the Bermans, can lead to a "sudden or gradual" decline in libido. Ironically, the conventional hormone replacement regimen of estrogen and progesterone given to relieve menopausal symptoms can make matters worse, because estrogen increases a protein (called steroid hormone-binding globulin) in the blood that binds to testosterone, causing it to become less available to the body.
- Depression: A common symptom of depression is diminished sex drive, which, in turn, can exacerbate depression. Studies indicate that 12 percent of all women will experience clinical depression at some point in their lives. As mentioned, one of the side effects of the popular antidepressants Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft is loss of libido. Dysthymia is a lower-grade form of depression that is not easily diagnosed because you can function with it, note the Bermans. A woman with dysthymia may feel isolated and overwhelmed and withdraw from sex and social activities.