Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder-Definition
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder refers to a condition in which there is a lack of desire for sex in people to the point that it causes distress or problems in their life. It is also known as Inhibited Sexual Desire (ISD) and may also be referred to as sexual apathy or sexual aversion. More informal terms used include frigidness and frigidity. A person suffering from Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) will not initiate sex and will not even respond to their partner’s desire.
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is the most common type of female sexual dysfunction. HSDD should not be confused with sexual disinterest for most woman feel a decreased interest in sex in their life at one point or another. This may be because of drugs, emotional distance between them and their partners, hormonal changes and some medical conditions are also responsible for it.
If a person is disinterested in sex and their life is going normal without any type of stress in it due to decreased libido than it will not be qualified as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. It will be HSDD only when it causes distress in their life. Up to 40% women in a population will report a lack of sexual desire in their life at any given moment but an average of about 12% are actually suffering from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
Earlier the term ‘lack of sexual fantasies’ was also included in the definition of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder but now it is mostly not used. This is because not all sexually healthy people fantasize about sex.
Inclusion of HSDD into DSM
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder was included in the fourth edition of the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM-IV) under the heading Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders. Later in the fifth edition of DSM it was further divided in to Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder.
Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is more common than Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
Why is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder More Common in Females Than in Males?
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is as much psychological as it is physical, may be even more so. Therefore, it is more often found in woman because for woman sexual desire depends upon a number of factors- emotional intimacy, satisfaction in their relationship as well as their and their partner’s sexual health.
It may also be because of cultural inhibitions which are ingrained in women from a very young age; as such they are more prone to suffer from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Some researchers also believe that HSDD may act as a protective mechanism against women having a large number of kids.
Causes of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
HSDD is not necessarily low interest in sex, as for it to be called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, low sexual interest or decreased libido must be accompanied with distress and difficulties in the relationship or interpersonal problems. It is, therefore, difficult to describe the causes of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
So usually the causes of low sexual interest are mostly given for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder as well. Some of the causes of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder are as given below:
Hormonal Causes of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Hormonal changes are a big cause of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. This is the reason why Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is more common in menopausal women as the levels of estrogen hormone fall in women during menopause. This hormone estrogen is responsible for increasing sex drive.
Similarly, a decrease in the level of testosterone in men can also lead to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Hypothyroidism which is caused due to decreased secretion of hormones from thyroid gland and hormonal changes caused during and after pregnancy can also lead to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
Emotional and Psychological Causes of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder may also be caused by a number of mental and emotional reasons too. Anxiety, stress, depression, sleeplessness and fatigue can be a cause of HSDD. A person may be too tired to have sexual desire. Rape victims as well as those who have suffered from any form of physical or sexual abuse are also prone to get Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
Relationship issues such as a lack of trust in their partner can also lead to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. This lack of trust may result due to a communication gap or due to their partner cheating on them.
Sexual performance issues, not resolving a fight or not talking about their sexual needs due to emotional distance or embarrassment can also lead to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Issues with their bodies or thinking that their body is not good enough or beautiful enough, perceiving their bodies to be lacking in some aspect or even shyness can also cause HSDD.
Physical Health Problems
Many physical problems and diseases can also be a cause of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Some of these problems that can lead to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) include coronary artery disease, heart problems, diabetes, arthritis and cancer.
There are certain medications that can also lead to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Chemotherapy drugs, morphine, codeine and certain psychoactive drugs can cause Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Medications taken for treating blood pressure and depression can also cause Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
Diagnosis of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Diagnosis of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is very difficult as sex is a very intimate and personal issue and people may feel embarrassed to discuss it. Moreover, there is no concrete diagnostic technique or tests to identify the disorder. Instead it depends on how much the problem of decreased libido is affecting the mental health and relationship of an individual.
Usually people who are in a relationship seek help on the behest of their partners. 1 person out of every 10 individual seeks a consultation only because their lack of sexual interest is causing their partner distress.
As there is no fixed criterion for the diagnosis of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, whenever an individual will approach a doctor for their problem, the doctor will try to do a thorough assessment by performing screening tests and a pelvic exam. The doctor will also study patient’s medical history and will try to eliminate any other causes for a decreased sexual desire. If nothing else fits the bill and there is no other problem that may be causing a decrease in sexual desire, then the doctor will diagnose the problem as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
The doctor may also refer the patient to a counsellor or sex therapist which will try to help the patient and try to know whether or not there are relationship issues or emotional problems.
Treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
There are many ways to deal with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Usually a combination of several different treatments is more efficient in treating the problem than a single method. Here are some techniques that are used to treat Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder:
Sex Therapy or Sex Counseling
Most therapies and counselling sessions are done both for singles as well as couples. So whether you are in a relationship or not, you can reach out to a counsellor to help with your problem. These sessions can help people in coping with past abuse and trauma. They can also help you come to terms with your body and help you in dealing with body image issues.
They can also help you to solve any problems that you are having with your partner, build trust and solve relationship issues. They can help you get rid of your shyness and embarrassment and help build confidence so that you can talk about your sexual problems confidently with your doctor as well as your partner.
Treatment of Your Physical Problems
Treating the physical problems that may be causing your Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is one of the ways to get rid of it. This includes things like controlling your diabetes or managing your stress and depression.
Changing your lifestyle can also help in treating Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. This is also a treatment option because it can help you get rid of problems such as depression, insomnia, stress as well as physical issues like diabetes and heart problems. Lifestyle changes may include changing your sleeping hours, regular exercise and a balanced diet.
Some hormonal therapies are also useful in treating Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. One such therapy is Systemic Estrogen Therapy. In this therapy, the hormone estrogen is administered in the body of the women through a pill or a patch. This hormone increases the libido of women.
Similarly, testosterone is also administered in men to increase sexual desire in them. Estrogen can also be applied to the vagina of the women with the help of a cream or ring which in turn increases the blood supply to that area increasing arousal.
Changing the medications can also help in treating Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. If any medication is causing Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, then asking your doctor to change it or replace it with some other medications can help in treating Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). For example there are some psychoactive drugs that decrease sexual desire, replacing them with some other drugs can take care of the problem of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
There are some drugs which when administered can help in treating Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Flibanserin, for example, is the first drug to get approved for treating Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in women.
So that was all the pertinent information regarding Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. It is imperative that you seek help if you are suffering from this problem. There is no point in suffering silently just because you are too shy to ask for help. Remember that, this time that you are spending in stress and emotional pain can be spent in blissful happiness and pleasure, if you only reach out for help, be it to your doctor or your partner. So take the first step and don’t forget what Dumbledore said in Harry Potter that-
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“Help will always be given to those who ask for it.”