What is ED in Women?
If you are working on your libido, you may wonder what is ED in women? In men, erectile dysfunction (ED) can be caused primarily by circulatory, neurologic, psychologic, metabolic causes. There is so much research on men and their sexuality, and so much less on females. So , what then is ED in women?
In men, ED really comes down to a dysfunction in their erectile tissue making it difficult for them to engage in intercourse. We could then say the female version is having a difficult time engaging in intercourse. This could be due to vaginal dryness, vulvar or pelvic pain, lack of circulation and blood flow to the female erectile tissue, or even simply having a low libido.
Learn more about root causes of low libido HERE.
Let’s talk about how you know if you have a low libido now!
Do you feel uninterested in sex? Do you have little interest in erotic desire or pleasure? Do you have few to no sexual thoughts or fantasies? Are you disinterested in initiating sex? Does having sex feel like a chore? Are you just not into it? Do you feel like you no longer have a “sex drive”? If you answered yes to any of these, your libido is probably low.
All of this relates to your sex drive, otherwise known as your libido. Libido varies from woman to woman. According to Dr. Risa Kagan, MD, 1 in every 10 women have a low sex drive or are worried about it. Other sources say that it is as many as 70% of women! There is no “normal” libido level – what matters most is how YOU feel about your current sex life and whether or not you want to change it. Libido (and loss of it) is very individual. Don’t compare how often you have sex with how often others do. You and your partner need to be happy with your level of sexual activity. Also, it is not uncommon in a relationship for one person to have a different level of libido than the other person. This does not mean one person is good and the other bad – they are just differences and if affecting the relationship can be managed.
What Can You Do about Low Libido?
Many women lack libido at different ages and for different reasons and the result is lack of sex, or sexual experiences that are not pleasurable or satisfying.
What can cause this? Interest in sex can change due to hormonal changes, changes in your relationship with your partner, stressful life events like a death of a loved one, childbirth, breastfeeding, medications, or your health. It can also be related to how you feel about your body, your day to day stress level, how connected you feel to your partner, how safe you feel in your environment, what you have been told about sex or how you were raised or so much more! It is NOT because you are aging! It is important to look at what may be the root cause of low libido.
Other factors to consider that may be contributing to a low libido are hormonal changes. Hormones are constantly changing and when they do your libido changes. Testosterone levels fall as a woman ages. Their levels in their 40s is about 25% less than in their 20s, reaching their lowest levels by 60s. Then levels stabilize or slightly rise for the rest of a woman’s life. Low testosterone levels can contribute to a low libido. With menopause, a woman has less estrogen and can experience vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, more fatigue, weight gain and changes in body shape leading to feeling more self conscious and less like sex. Progesterone is the hormone that seems to directly impact libido the least, however it is important to help a woman feel healthy and therefore may indirectly be related to drive.
What can you do if you want to make changes in your sex life?
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Limit alcohol, get exercise, eat a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce stress (try meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and time in nature).
- Find joy and gratitude in your day every day to change your mood.
- Be the best person that you can be every day so your partner finds joy being with you.
- Rekindle your relationship and make quality time with your partner a priority. Do what you can to improve your relationship. An unhappy relationship makes it hard to feel any sexual interest in your partner.
- Communicate with your partner! Let them know the things that bring you pleasure and learn the same about them. Also talk about frequency of sex – it is good to get this out in the open, discuss it if you want different amounts of sex, and compromise so you both are happy.
- Spice things up! You may have gotten in a rut so try new things. Often times just talking about other options or things you haven’t tried can be pleasurable. Novelty is huge for reactivating sex drive. Novelty can be as simple as trying a new position, trying a new lube, putting on a new outfit, or having a date night at a new location. It can also be much more wild than this! Explore with your partner what sort of small or larger changes can really work to add novelty to your intimacy!
- Explore your own sexuality. Where do you want to be touched? What level of touch or pressure is pleasurable? Learn what brings you pleasure so you can ask for it.
- Focus on “pleasure rather than performance”. This intimacy can lead to more sex.
- Your partner may fear they are hurting you when having intercourse. Reassure them, communicate about it.
- When you are with your partner stay focused and enjoy the pleasure of sex!
If you have tried these things and still are not happy with your sex drive, then it is recommended you seek professional help. Some of the options for help include:
- Medication management from your doctor (most commonly hormone replacement therapy, but any medication should be directly related to the root cause of your imbalances)
- Treatment from a doctor for a medical condition or illness
- Talk to a doctor to rule out any medical reasons for a low libido
- Couples counseling
- Individual counseling (especially if struggling with body image issues, low self-esteem, or trauma from childhood)
- Testing and possible hormone therapy or supplementation to support low hormones or other root causes of imbalances.
There are many factors that can affect a woman’s libido. Address nutrition, relationship issues, and lifestyle factors first. Consider medication last as it can have side effects. Most importantly, keep in mind that you can change your sex life. No matter how old you are a low libido is not permanent! You can read more about this topic on our blog: Low Libido In Women
Herbenick D, Reece M, Sanders S, Dodge B, Ghassemi A, Fortenberry JD. Prevalence and characteristics of vibrator use by women in the United States: results from a nationally representative study. J Sex Med. 2009 Jul;6(7):1857-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01318.x. Epub 2009 May 7. PMID: 19453881.