Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is seen as a sexual dysfunction, although not everybody will agree with that. It is defined as an absence of sexual desire for a sustained period of time. Here I will explain firstly what we know of this condition, secondly what are its causes and thirdly what cures or treatments are available and which might be best for you.

What is Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD)?

HSDD is characterized by a lack of sexual feeling or desire. It is defined as low sexual desire, over a sustained period of time, which causes significant stress and interpersonal difficulty.

It can affect men but we are talking about women here. A woman with this condition will have no desire for sex, no sexual fantasies and no lustful feeling or yearning for intimacy with a sexual partner.

This may not be a bad thing. There have been countless women throughout the ages, who have happily lived in nunneries or who have devoted their lives to a cause or profession, and not felt the desire for sexual intimacy.

Many professionals regard asexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation rather than a sexual dysfunction.

But if the lack of sexual feeling causes distress or difficulties then it is rightly called a disorder. Also, in order for it to be classified as HSDD, it must continue over a substantial period of time. A short interval of lack of interest, which soon passes, can’t be counted as HSDD. Also it can’t be counted as HSDD if it is the result of some other medical disorder such as depression, drug or alcohol misuse or some other medical condition. If this is the case then, the lack of desire is a symptom of the other condition and not a disorder in itself.

And there are various subtypes of HSDD. It can be general, that is total lack of sexual desire, or situational, still having sexual desire, but lacks sexual desire for current partner.

HSDD used to be known as ‘frigidity’. It was labeled by scientists, mainly men, who argued that any woman who had little or no desire for intercourse with a man must be ‘frigid’ or ‘cold’ and therefore abnormal. The opposite case was ‘nymphomania’, where the woman’s lust was too powerful for a man to handle.

This was the belief until 1970, when Masters and Johnson published their groundbreaking text Human Sexual Inadequacy, in which they described this condition and other sexual dysfunctions, including retarded ejaculation, a kind of male sexual problem not previously recognized.

In the seventies sex therapy became increasingly popular, and in 1977, therapist Helen Singer Kaplan created a specific category of sexual disorder for people with low sexual desire, which she labeled ‘Hypoactive Sexual Desire’.

She had discovered that this syndrome was not necessarily the product of malfunction of the genitals, but could have a cause that was psychological or unrelated to the genital area.

She went on to say that the condition can only be fully understood within a social context that is it depends on where and when you are that HSDD is viewed in a positive or negative light.

Some cultures attempt to restrain sexual desire either by law or social judgment. In other societies, it is considered wholesome and indeed beneficial to the social order. In Victorian Britain, it was said that a woman should ‘lie on her back and think of England’. In the Swinging Sixties ‘Free love’ was all the rage.

Each society has its own concept of ‘normal’ and so what in one society is accepted may not be the norm in another. In the early twenty-first century, we have discarded notions of repression and disapproval, so the enjoyment of sex is acceptable and normal.

Therefore low sexual desire is considered to be abnormal. I would not consider it a deviant or antisocial behavior but I have found that to many women it is a problem. This is why I have written these words so that women who are troubled can find an explanation and hopefully a cure.

Causes of hypoactive sexual desire disorder

As previously stated, HSDD is low sexual desire which causes significant stress and interpersonal difficulty. As the significant stress and interpersonal difficulty is a prerequisite, HSDD in itself has no ultimate cause.

It is the low sexual desire which has the cause. In seeking out the causes, therapists tend to classify low sexual desire into two categories, lifelong/generalized and acquired/situational. Lifelong HSDD is where the woman has little or no desire for sexual stimulation and never has had.

Acquired is where the woman was previously sexually interested in her present partner but now has lost sexual interest in them. It is possible that she still has a desire for sexual stimulation, either alone or with another partner, real or imaginary. Despite every effort, therapists have yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation of lifelong HSDD.

Several theories have been put forward but none have been proven scientifically. In the case of acquired low sexual desire, the possible causes have been listed as medical or health problems, psychiatric problems, hormone imbalance, an imbalance of the chemicals of the brain, a side effect of certain prescribed medications, relationship problems and chronic illness of the woman’s partner.

This list has been compiled on the basis of empirical evidence and clinical observation, but it is by no means exhaustive. There are probably other causes yet to be discovered.

Treatment of HSDD

Many women with low sex drive fear that they can never experience a fulfilling sex life. To these women I say, do not despair as treatments are available. There are many cures on the market that can restore your sex drive and you might even find that you can increase it to a level you have not experienced before.

The first step is to see your doctor, who will evaluate the situation and probably refer you to a sex therapist or a psychologist.

Typically the medical professional will seek a psychological or biological cause of the HSDD. If the clinician believes the cause is psychological then therapy is the obvious solution.

The treatment is usually dealt with in the context of a relationship that is both partners are involved in therapy. The treatment will be concerned with the relationship and improved communication, verbal and nonverbal, within the relationship. There will be a degree of sexual education as problems often occur when people are unaware of certain aspects of sexuality or have badly informed perceptions of sexual behavior. If the medical professional believes that the problem is a stress related, techniques to deal with the problem will be recommended.

If the HSDD is organically caused, a different approach will be called for. There are as yet no pharmaceutical solutions for HSDD, although many drug companies are currently working on the case.

There are several natural HSDD treatments which have become available in the last few years, and have been endorsed by the medical profession. Tests have shown that women who have used these herbal HSDD remedies show a continual and noticeable improvement in their desire for sex, and a marked increase in their sexual fulfillment and ability to achieve orgasm.

There are many products on the market. Your only problem will be finding the one that works best for you.
 

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