If you’ve suddenly lost that lovin’ feeling, it may be time to look at what’s happening in your relationship. “The most common cause of desire problems for women has to do with partner issues—and a lot of women don’t realize that’s what’s going on,” says Holly Thacker, M.D., director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at the Cleveland Clinic, and author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause. “Obviously, you have to have a partner you’re attracted to, and if there are marital or emotional issues in the relationship, that can be a problem when it comes to desire.” After all, Dr. Thacker points out, “the brain is the most important sex organ.”
If the romantic flame still burns bright in your relationship but you just don’t feel any spark, there’s probably something going on physically or emotionally that has nothing to do with your partner. Identifying what’s going on is the first step to reclaiming your sex life.
Hormonal imbalances—ranging from elevated prolactin levels (the hormone that stimulates breast milk production) to menopausal shifts in estrogen and testosterone levels—can thwart your libido. “Anything that causes a decline in testosterone can create a drop in sexual desire or response for women,” says Barbara Bartlik, M.D., a psychiatrist and sex therapist with Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. Hypothyroidism, a disorder in which the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone, can cause a woman to experience low libido, and feel run down, depressed and sluggish. Meanwhile, diabetes and hypertension can impair blood flow and nerve function throughout the body, including the genital area, which can diminish sexual desire.