Erectile dysfunction

Updated 06 May 2013

Lost interest in sex?

Many factors influence sexual energy. Nowadays, it's unlikely that birth control pills decrease libido, or sex drive. But what are these factors?


Many factors influence sexual energy. In the past, when birth control pills contained much higher doses of hormones, some women described a lowered libido and decreased signs of sexual arousal (such as less vaginal lubrication).

While unlikely as a cause nowadays, it may make sense to speak with a gynaecologist or women's health nurse practitioner to talk about changes in your sex drive and a possible relationship to your oral contraception. Perhaps another birth control pill could be prescribed that may create a difference in the way you feel.

Since the pill is also an elective medication, it's something a woman chooses to take for contraception. Often, women on birth control feel more sexual since their concern about pregnancy decreases. Sometimes, women who have the additional hormones circulating through their system can experience an increase their libido.

Medication and fatigue to blame?
Decreased sexual energy is a common side-effect of a number of medications. If you started taking any new medication around the same time that you began to notice a difference in your sex drive, mention this to the health care provider who prescribed the medication. You may need to change the dosage or even try a different medication instead. Do not stop taking your medication without first talking with your provider.

One of the most common causes for a decrease in sex drive is fatigue. Tired people, especially women who balance hectic lives, can — understandably so — be less interested in sex. Has anything been happening in your life lately that is causing extra stress and leaving you tired? You might want to think about your schedule and stressors in your life. Sometimes just making a list can help you see what's making you feel stressed. Books or workshops on stress management can be helpful resources if you think undue stress and/or being tired might be having an impact on your sex life.

Beyond being tired, depression, as well as anxiety disorders, especially undiagnosed and untreated, often affect one's libido. Take some time to think about how you've been feeling lately, separate from the obvious frustration at not being as sexually charged as you want to be.

Relationship problems add to problem
What else is happening in your life? Arguments between partners, a lack of trust or intimacy, communication problems, or other issues that cause friction in a relationship can easily make a woman (or a man, for that matter) lose interest in sex. You may want to work with your partner(s) to fix barriers to intimacy, which may include seeking couples counselling that can provide you with perspective as well as doable approaches. Harriet Lerner's books, The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships and The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships, are useful reads.

Many people go through periods of decreased arousal in their lives (how long has this lasted for you?). Focusing too much on what your body isn't doing might just exacerbate the problem. If you want to be sexual and find that you're dry, using a little lube for masturbation or penetration can help. Finally, if none of the things mentioned here seem to be relevant to you, schedule an appointment with your health care provider to talk more in depth about issues more closely related to your own unique medical and sexual history.

(Dr Elna McIntosh, Health24)

Read more:

Top 10 reasons for low libido


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Erectile Dysfunction Expert

Dr Kenny du Toit is a urologist practicing in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He is also consultant at Tygerberg hospital, where he is a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the South African Urological Association, Colleges of Medicine South Africa and Société Internationale d’Urologie. Board registered with both the HPCSA (Health professions council of South Africa) and GMC (General medical council UK). He has a keen interest in oncology, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.

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