Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (lack of sexual desire)

What is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)?

The definition of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is an absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity. Lack of sexual desire, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder, refers to low interest in sexual intercourse, either temporarily or permanently. It affects both men and women, and may be primary (the person has never felt much sexual interest) or secondary (the person was accustomed to experiencing sexual desire, but has lost it). 


hypoactive sexual desire disorder

What are some of the causes of HSDD?

The lack of sexual appetite in men and women usually occurs due to psychological, physical or hormonal factors

Psychological causes

There are many psychological causes of a low sex drive, these include:

  • Anxiety or depression.
  • Stress.
  • Poor body image.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • History of physical or sexual abuse.

Physical causes - A wide range of illnesses, physical changes and medications can cause a low sex drive, including:

  • Sexual problems - If you have pain during sex or can't orgasm, it can reduce your desire for sex.
  • Medical diseases. – nonsexual diseases can affect your sex drive
  • Medications - Certain prescription drugs.
  • Lifestyle habits - For example, a glass of wine may put you in the mood. However, too much alcohol can affect your sex drive.
  • Surgery - Any surgery related to your genital tract or breasts can affect your body image and therefore desire for sex.
  • Fatigue

Hormone changes

changes in your hormone levels may reduce your desire for sex. This can occur during:

  • Menopause. – Estrogen levels dropping.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding. Hormone changes during pregnancy, just after having a baby and during breast-feeding can affect a woman's sex drive. This may be due to fatigue, changes in body image, the pressures of pregnancy and caring for the new baby.


Symptoms of HSDD

HSDD can be either lifelong or acquired. There are two types of HSDD

  • Generalised lack of sexual desire – No sexual appetite under any circumstances.
  • Situational type HSDD - Selective desire in certain situations or with specific partners is classified as situational type. For example, a person might feel sexual desire towards a partner they are having an affair with, but not with their already established partner.

Treatment options

Medical therapies

At times, prescription medications are used for sexual purposes. For example, bupropion sustained release (SR), is an antidepressant, has a positive effect on the sexual function of women diagnosed with HSDD. Bupropion SR is used to counteract HSDD that is caused by other antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Various commonly used prescription medications can also be a contributing factor that causes HSDD. To overcome this effect of medications, a health professional may suggest:

  • Waiting to see if symptoms disappear.
  • Lowering the dosage.
  • Substituting with different medication.
  • Adding a supplementary medicine to act as an antidote.
  • Discontinuing medication for brief periods.

It is important that patients do not make changes to their medication usage without speaking to their doctor first.

Sex education and counselling

Sex therapy for HSDD may involve a number of strategies for treatment. These include:

Who can help treat HSDD?

Our leading psychologists offer couselling sessions to treat Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.

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