Do Hormones or Emotions Influence Women's Sex Drive?

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Medications such as Viagra or Cialis are meant to help men overcome sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction. These medications are not necessarily meant to increase sexual desire, however, by improving men's performance and ability to get and maintain an erection, many men find their sexual desire increases. Some men, those with low testosterone levels, find testosterone therapy helps improve sexual desire. For women, there are no medications to help when they find themselves faced with low, or nonexistent, sexual desire.

One reason for this is that women's sexual desire is more complicated. Hormones, such as testosterone, might play a role but, according to a new study, it is a small role. Psychosocial factors, such as satisfaction with your relationship and overall feelings of well-being might be larger contributors to your sexual drive, or lack of one.

Previous research has shown that one in every eight women experience low sexual drive at some time. This can be caused by a number of reasons including relationship or personal stress, side-effects of medication and fluctuating hormonal levels, such as during menopause.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System looked at information from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation to compare the relationship between hormones and sexual function during the menopausal transition. Data from over 3,300 women was used in the study. Participants answered questions about their desire for sex and sexual activity. In addition, blood tests analyzed levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones. The study showed:

  • Women with higher levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones did report higher levels of sexual desire, however, the difference was not very large.

  • Women who reported fewer sad moods and higher levels of satisfaction in their relationships reported better sexual function.

A woman's sex drive seems to be intricately tied to their emotional well-being - their level of happiness and their satisfaction with their relationship. The researchers believe these factors play a much bigger role in sexual desire and should be considered when treating women for low sex drive.

Testosterone therapy has been used, with some success, for women with low sex drives. However, the researchers caution that there are too many unknowns when treating a woman with testosterone, for example, the long-term health effects have not been studied.

Health Central Health Guide, Amy Hendel, in a post, "Viagra for Women? 5 Ways to Get Sex Going," explains some of the current treatments for low sex drive in women. No matter what treatment you pursue, don't forget to focus on your feelings of satisfaction with both your life and your relationship. By improving those, you might improve your sex life.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.