Loss of libido (sex drive) is a common problem that affects many women at some point in their life.
It's often linked to relationship issues, stress or tiredness, but can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, such as reduced hormone levels.
Everyone's sex drive is different – there's no such thing as a "normal" libido. But if you find your lack of desire for sex distressing or it's affecting your relationship, it's a good idea to get help.
Don't feel embarrassed about getting help. Lots of women experience problems with their sex drive, and seeking advice can be the first step towards resolving the issue.
Common causes of a low libido
One of the first things to consider is whether you're happy in your relationship. Do you have any doubts or worries that could be behind your loss of sexual desire?
A low libido can be the result of:
being in a long-term relationship and becoming overfamiliar with your partner
loss of sexual attraction
unresolved conflict and frequent arguments
difficulty trusting each other
physical sexual problems
Another thing to consider is whether the problem is a physical issue that makes sex difficult or unfulfilling.
For example, a low sex drive can be the result of:
Stress, anxiety and exhaustion
Stress, anxiety and exhaustion can be all-consuming and have a major impact on your happiness, including your sex drive. If you feel you're constantly tired, stressed or anxious, you may need to make some lifestyle changes or speak to your GP for advice.
Depression is very different from simply feeling unhappy, miserable or fed up for a short while. It's a serious illness that interferes with all aspects of your life, including your sex life.
In addition to low libido, signs of depression can include:
feelings of extreme sadness that don't go away
feeling low or hopeless
losing interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy
It's important to see your GP if you think you might be depressed. They can advise you about the main treatments for depression, such as talking therapies or antidepressants.
A low sex drive can also be a side effect of antidepressants. Speak to your GP if you think this may be causing your problems.
Getting older and the menopause
A reduced sex drive isn't an inevitable part of ageing, but it's something many men and women experience as they get older.
There can be many reasons for this, including:
falling levels of sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) just before, during and after the menopause in women
age-related health problems, including mobility problems
side effects of medication
Pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding
Loss of interest in sex is common during pregnancy, after giving birth and while breastfeeding.
This can be because of:
changes in hormone levels
changes to your body and issues with your body image
painful sex caused by an injury, such as a cut or tear, during childbirth
changed priorities, such as focusing on looking after your baby
Medication and contraception
Certain medicines can sometimes reduce libido, including:
medication for high blood pressure
many types of antidepressant medication
medications for fits (seizures), such as topiramate
medications called antipsychotics, such as haloperidol
hormonal contraception, such as the combined hormonal contraception (pill, patch or ring), the progestogen-only pill, the contraceptive implant and the contraceptive injection
Alcohol and drugs
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period can reduce your sex drive, so it's a good idea not to drink too much.