Female sex drive

Libido – from Latin means lust, desire, thirst or drive. Sexology uses the word “libido” in this sense.

The definition used by psychologists is the following: elementary vital and creative power with a sexual basis. For classical philologists, libido can also mean whim, predilection, pleasure, debauchery and promiscuity.

Monika Łukasiewicz, MD, PhD, gynaecologist and sexologist

How is women’s libido constructed and how does it differ from men’s?  What affects it, is age relevant to its levels?

Women’s libido is extremely complex. It changes under the influence of a number of factors, including mood, hormonal balance or work situation. The way our partner treats us also plays a crucial role. The female libido is therefore affected by many social, hormonal and health factors, as well as stress. However, it is of great importance how a woman is treated by her partner and this should not be forgotten.

Sex drive and age

In terms of the correlation between the libido and a woman’s age, it is known that during menopause, when oestrogen levels fall significantly together with testosterone concentration, sex drive also decreases. Although testosterone is referred to as a male predator, it is also produced by the female body. It is largely responsible for female libido and the so-called sex drive, a deep urge for lovemaking. Oestrogens, on the other hand, affect vaginal lubrication. When the concentration of both of these hormones in the bloodstream decreases, and, in addition, depressive moods occur, as a psychological factor, as well as hot flashes, as a biological element, the libido inevitably decreases during the menopause.

HRT and desire 

Hormone replacement therapy may in some way help women by maintaining oestrogens at a certain level. However, it should be remembered that the indications for including this type of therapy do not include libido disorders, but other types of conditions. Improvement in a woman’s attitude, better mood, elimination of depressive states, which may increase desire, are only side effects of this therapy.

Oestrogens – an important preventive measure 

Vaginal dryness is a serious condition affecting women during the menopause. This is a rarely addressed problem, yet the solution to it is quite simple, as it is enough to administer oestrogens vaginally so that hydration returns to normal levels. This makes the woman feel more attractive as she does not suffer discomfort or pain during the intercourse. When women come to see their gynaecologist, they are often afraid to ask what makes them feel pain during sex, although they have not had this problem before. This is the result of a natural process when oestrogen levels drop during the menopause and the dryness sets in. After vaginal administration of oestrogens, the situation immediately returns to normal.

Can you increase libido by controlling testosterone levels?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to influence your sex drive by controlling testosterone levels. This hormone is not administered to women who have a normal concentration of the hormone in their blood. If testosterone is present in too high concentrations, it may have many side effects, such as skin problems and greasy hair. This phenomenon is called hyperandrogenism. Thus, there are no recommendations for administering testosterone to increase libido. Only in cases of hypoandrogenism, a deficiency of this hormone, could administration of it be considered. However, this occurs very rarely, for example after surgery to remove the (ovarian) adnexa. After such surgery, oestrogen and sometimes testosterone levels drop. In such situation, testosterone-oestrogen therapy may be considered.