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Why female sex drives drop and how to improve libido

Many of my listeners bring up great topics that help others learn.  Therefore I’ve included the below question on how to improve one’s sex drive

July 21, 2015

Dear Dr. Daliah:

I’m 52 years old, and have completely lost my sex drive.  It started about 20 years ago but now its completely gone.  I can’t take hormones since I have a family history of breast cancer.  Is there anything out there that can help.  Please, my husband is getting frustrated.

Darcy W.

Hi Darcy:

You bring up a very common issue.  Let me first say….You aren’t alone.  Millions of women lose their sex drive, usually in their mid 30’s. Some believe it’s a loss of estrogen, others believe is psychological.  My theory is that the older a women is if she were to become pregnant, the higher the risk to the mother and fetus, hence nature tries to dissuade the female human species to procreate, hence loss of sex drive. “Advanced Maternal Age” is considered a women over the age of 35.  Men appear to incur less risk as they age, so they can procreate for years to come…as proven by their continued sex drive.  Although, studies have shown that some men as they age can produce sperm that may lead to fetal risk, its much less common than the risk of an aging mother.

So with this theory, it would make sense that your sex drive started to fall in your 30’s.  Other factors include fatigue, loss of passion, menstrual irregularities, history of abuse, alcohol consumption, smoking, medications, nutrition, gynecological issues to mention a few.  Moreover if the children or in-laws sleep in the next room, this could pose as a deterrent to a night of passion as well.

When a patient tells me that she’s lost her will to sleep with her husband, we need to ascertain if it’s truly a loss of sex drive or a loss of will towards her spouse.  If other men or fantasies arouse her, then her baseline sex drive may be intact.  However, hypothetically of course, if she is watching the Lord of the Rings, and Aragorn, who is played by Viggo Mortensen, performs a tantalizing sword-fight scene, and she fails to find his muscular physique remotely interesting, alarms would certainly go off….

What I would recommend is to see your physician and do the following:

  1. Have a thorough gynecological exam.  A prolapsed uterus, for example could cause pain, and make intercourse uncomfortable, hence psychologically deterring you from having sex.
  2. Review your medication list with your physician to see if some of them have loss of libido as a side effect.
  3. For post menopausal women, hormones may help.  Now you mentioned that you cannot have estrogen due to your family history of breast cancer.  For your particular case, I would have your personal risk for breast cancer assessed, either by BRCA gene mutation testing, or mammogram/ultrasound review etc, and if not at high risk, you may qualify for a low dose estrogen supplement such as a vaginal cream once a week.  Menopause causes vaginal atrophy, or thinning of the walls which makes lubrication difficult and sex painful.  A small amount of estrogen cream (again assuming you are not at high risk for breast cancer) may help you greatly.
  4. If your loss of sex drive is not found to be organic or pharmaceutical in nature, a sex therapist can be extremely helpful in identifying and treating the issues.
  5. Reduce your stress. The more relaxed the more you can tune in to your body’s requests for intimacy.
  6. Treat yourself!!  In Las Vegas, have a girls night out and see Thunder Down Under.  Watching these gorgeous Australian performers offers a 99% improvement in sex drive.  See how happy I look…..


7.  Some foods can help sex drive as well. Chocolate has been well known to temporarily enamor the female.  Oysters, asparagus, and liver have also been shown to increase sex drive, but I find these foods repulsive and would personally rather watch television than….sorry I digress.

Well Darcy, surprisingly this was a small summary of a very common and complex problem.  See your physician and one final recommendation is to bring your partner with you so hopefully his frustration will decline once he realizes how prevalent this problem is.  Best of luck!!!

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician



Nationally Syndicated Radio Host, Board Certified Family Medicine Physician, Assistant Professor Touro University Nevada

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