• Dr Peter Chew

Low sex drive

I am 30, married for 2 years with no children. I do not have much sexual desire and will use all sorts of excuses to avoid intimacy with my husband. This often results in conflicts between us. Am I suffering from frigidity? What are the causes?

A woman's sexual desire is quite complex and involves the interaction of 3 components – biological, social and psychological.

1. The biological component refers to the spontaneous sexual interest.

2. The social component includes expectations, beliefs and values about sex.

3. The psychological component relates to the motivation the woman has with regards to intimacy.

Frigidity refers to a condition in which a woman will not start, or respond to her partner's desire for sexual activity. When it causes distress to you and affects your marital relationship, it becomes a sexual disorder known as Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) or inhibited sexual desire (ISD). There are many causes of HSDD. They include the following:

Physical causes

· Medical illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease

· Painful sex from endometriosis or pelvic infection

· Medications: Some antidepressants and oral contraceptive pills are libido killers.

· Alcohol and tobacco

· Surgery to the breasts or genital tract can affect the body image and desire for sex.

· Physical exhaustion and mental fatigue

Hormonal causes

· Menopause: Oestrogen levels drop during the transition to menopause. This can cause reduced sexual desire and dry vagina resulting in painful sex.

· Pregnancy and breast-feeding. Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy and during breast-feeding can reduce sexual desire.

Psychological causes

· Relationship problems such as conflicts, anger and mistrust

· Anxiety or depression

· Stress from work

· Strict family attitudes towards sex or rigid religious beliefs

· Poor body image and low self-esteem

· History of physical or sexual abuse

· Previous negative sexual experiences

As you have low sexual drive, it is important that you consult your gynaecologist to find out the cause so that appropriate treatment can be given.

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