What’s the difference between Low Libido & Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?

Did you know that 43 percent of all women experience some form of sexual dysfunction?  Hypoactive (low) Sexual Desire Disorder [HSDD], characterized as frustrating low libido, is the most common form of sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), is believed to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.  These chemicals, or “neurotransmitters,” are responsible for activating the pleasure centers in the female brain when she is exposed to sexual cues.  However, when a woman with HSDD is exposed to erotic material she has little to no activation in the brain (as seen on actual imaging, such as MRI).  Basically, she can’t turn off her “everyday brain” to focus on her own pleasure.  Women with HSDD report that they are NEVER turned on, even after behavioral interventions. HSDD is an actual medical diagnosis and is reported by about 10% of women.  Luckily, we now have two FDA approved drugs to treat this condition (Addyi and Vyleesi).  These drugs work by modulating the levels of the neurotransmitters associated with pleasure in the brain.  In the clinical trials for the drug Addyi, women with HSDD enjoyed 58% more satisfying sexual events and reported an 80% increase in desire after taking the drug for 8 weeks! Great news, right?

Now, let’s compare HSDD to “low desire” or “low libido.”  This condition is reported by about 38% of women. That’s more than 1 out of every 3 ladies!  Women who report low desire, find that with some simple behavioral interventions – such as mindfulness, partner communication, exercise and exposure to “turn-ons,” they can improve their responsiveness to sex. Women with low desire also report that once sex has happened, they think – we should do this more often!  They are able to reflect on the experience with positivity, which then in turn lessens the inhibition to sex going forward.  This is different than the woman with HSDD who is just glad that the sex is now over.  Do you see the difference?

If you think you have HSDD, or even low libido – we highly recommend reaching out to your women’s health provider.  There is hope – with a combination of behavioral work and sometimes even medications, you can get back to sexual wellness and improve your intimate relationships. For more information or a free phone consultation, contact us at Maze Women’s Health.

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