Sexual Health

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in Women

August 11, 2018

The reduction of libido can be a disheartening experience for ladies, eliciting feelings of guilt and frustration for a condition which may have no obvious explanation. It may considerably reduce a woman’s sense of self-worth and undermine not just her sexual relationship but her non-sexual ones, too.

It is believed that as many as one in 10 girls are affected by a condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

It’s one where the reduction of libido is often accompanied by certain bodily changes, including a marked growth in certain hormones (such as dopamine) and a corresponding decrease in other people (such as serotonin).

HSDD is fast undergoing a transformation in the manner that it’s being approached by the medical community. It is not considered just a psychological illness but one in which a individual’s health, culture, and social interactions play an integral part.

Conflicts in Definition

As stated by an expert panel at the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), HSDD is characterized by the loss of spontaneous sexual appetite, the inability to respond to sexual cues, and also the inability to maintain interest during sex spanning the course of at least six months.

For its part, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has offered a much broader definition in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

In the latest version, the APA has abandoned the expression HSDD and replaced it with feminine sexual interest/arousal disorder (FSIAD), a decision that has been widely criticized for its lack of empirical evidence and non-specific criteria for inclusion.

These inconsistencies have cast an even bigger shadow of uncertainty over a subject for which millions of women continue to endure, often in silence.

Prevalence of HSDD

A survey conducted by investigators in the University of Chicago at 2015 aimed to identify the causes and types of erectile dysfunction in a cohort of women between the ages of 18 and 59. What they found was that certain sexual disorders occurred among all women no matter age or ethnicity.

Chief among them was that 33.4 percent of those girls surveyed reported symptoms consistent with HSDD. These larger-than-expected numbers imply that HSDD might be a far bigger problem than previously imagined.

In addition, the survey seemed to confirm what many had long suspected: that HSDD is linked to not only the psychological status of a woman but her physiological status, too.

Psychological Components of HSDD

Although it is apparent that a woman’s emotional state can donate to HSDD, it’s many times a chicken-and-egg situation. Are the psychological stresses tripping the very low libido, or is the low libido manifesting with feelings of tension and anxiety? Nowadays, most scientists feel that it is little of the two, further blurring the line between the actual cause and effect.

What most experts do agree is that HSDD is closely connected to specific psychosocial factors that affect both a woman’s self-image and her connection to sex.

When experiencing the loss of libido, a girl will often describe feelings of frustration, hopelessness, anger, poor self-esteem, and loss of femininity while simultaneously expressing dissatisfaction with her sex life, spouse, or union.

Age can be a factor. While aging itself doesn’t inherently play a role, a woman’s cultural reference to age can. 1 study conducted by the University of Melbourne in Australia reported that American women were far more to encounter HSDD since they got older in comparison to a matched set European women (19 percent versus 13 percent, respectively). This implies that societal and cultural strain can contribute up to the chance of HSDD as one’s personal psychological vulnerabilities.

Physiological Causes of HSDD

Concerning health care causes, there is a clear association between the lack of sexual appetite and also a woman’s general health. Conditions such as thyroid disease and certain autoimmune disorders, for example, are closely linked to HSDD. In cases such as these, any malfunction in hormonal/immune regulation may significantly affect the excitatory sexual systems of the brain. In addition, the drugs used to treat such disorders can interfere with the numerous neurotransmitters that modulate sexual desire.

The effect is more than just theoretical. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brain were able to reveal this in a 2016 study from the University of Queensland in Australia. In their research, the investigators found that women with HSDD that were shown sexual videos had weaker activation of the right side of the mind (which performs tasks related to creativity and imagination) and less deactivation in the left side (which oversees logics and reason). This effect wasn’t only consistent but needed a characteristic”signature” among the women examined.

While this should not suggest that HSDD is a condition purely characterized by hormones and hormones, it does illustrate how a treatment strategy focused solely on the emotional aspects of low libido may come up short.

Diagnosis and Treating HSDD

In order to effectively treat HSDD, a doctor would have to conduct a thorough evaluation of all probable causes, both biological and psychological. For this reason, the treatment program can vary dramatically from one woman to another.

Typically speaking, the doctor will deal with the most distressing facets of the illness first while exploring any co-existing condition or medication treatment that may be indirectly or directly contributing.

If psychotherapy is indicated, the woman would likely to be known to a sex therapist who would be able to determine the proper course of treatment, either performed independently or with her spouse.