Many things can cause a low sex drive in females. This could range from stress or relationship problems to hormonal changes and medication side effects.

However, it is important to note that shifts in sex drive, or libido, are not always cause for concern. Some people naturally have less interest in sex than others. It is also typical for interest in sex to fluctuate over time, particularly during certain life changes or busy periods.

If a person notices a persistent change in their sex drive and is unsure of the cause, there may be several factors involved. Keep reading to find out why a female might have no sex drive.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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There is no single definition of what a low sex drive is. This is because people can have very different baselines for what they consider a typical sex drive. What seems reasonable to one person might seem high or low to another.

Generally, though, people who feel they have a low sex drive have noticed a significant drop in sexual desire compared to a previous time in their own life.

It is important to keep this in mind, as the media can portray sexual desire in harmful ways. A 2023 study notes that gender roles influence this, with some media implying that males have a naturally high libido that female partners must keep up with, even if they do not feel the same.

This is a potentially harmful narrative. Having a lower libido than other people is not necessarily a problem unless it causes distress, or if it is a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Many factors that affect a female’s mental or physical health could also affect their interest in sex. This could include:

  • relationship problems
  • stress or anxiety
  • shame about sex
  • grief, sadness, or depression
  • a history of unwanted sexual contact or other past trauma
  • negative body image
  • drugs or alcohol use
  • pregnancy, birth, or parenthood
  • hormonal shifts, such as menopause
  • pain or discomfort during sex
  • chronic health conditions
  • medication side effects

For some, sexual desire can also wane naturally with age. This can happen in all sexes, but according to The North American Menopause Society, it affects females 2–3 times as much as males.

The following sections explore these in more detail.

Relationship difficulties can contribute to a loss of libido, particularly in females. A 2017 study found that relationship stress had links to female sexual dysfunction, which can include a low sex drive. This association was not as strong for males.

Some examples of relationship problems that could affect sexual desire include:

  • Lack of communication: A lack of honest, open communication between partners may mean that a person does not know what is and is not working sexually. A 2019 review of 48 previous studies found that communication about sex had links to more sexual desire, better sexual function, and more orgasms.
  • Lack of sexual education: A lack of understanding about sex, anatomy, or what feels good could make sex unsatisfying. A 2020 study of young adults found that more comprehensive sex education leads to more satisfaction, particularly among heterosexual participants.
  • Gender inequity: Despite more women working similar hours to men, they often still perform significantly more household labor and child care than men within many heterosexual relationships. A 2022 study of women partnered with men found that performing a larger amount of household tasks predicted less sexual interest. The results suggest that this is due to feeling the situation is unfair, or that the relationship resembles a parent-child dynamic.
  • Trust problems: Females who have difficulty trusting their partner, who have experienced betrayal in the past, or within the current relationship may be uncomfortable with intimacy.
  • Unhealthy relationships and abuse: Relationships that involve abuse, manipulation, coercion, or pressure to have sex or perform sex in a certain way may feel unsafe. Feeling unsafe can lead to a person not wanting to have sex.

Help is available

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of domestic violence, call 911 or otherwise seek emergency help. Anyone who needs advice or support can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 via:

  • phone, at 800-799-7233
  • text, by texting START to 88788

Many other resources are available, including helplines, in-person support, and temporary housing. People can find local resources and others classified by demographics, such as support specifically for People of Color, here:

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In addition to relationship problems, other sources of stress can also affect libido. This is because stress affects people both emotionally and physically.

If a person feels something is more important than sex or demands their urgent attention, they may have a lower sex drive. Chronic stress may also affect sexual arousal, or the physical response to sexual stimuli, according to a small 2013 study.

Stress plays a role in many mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders and depression. However, it is worth noting that not all people have less desire when they feel anxious or depressed.

A 2022 study of female students found that while some reported a lower sex drive when stressed, anxious, or depressed, others experienced a higher sex drive.

This could be for several reasons. For example, if the source of the stress is a romantic relationship, sex may be less appealing. If the source comes from outside the relationship, sex may be a way of coping with it.

Other psychological factors that could affect sex drive include:

  • feeling unattractive
  • negative views about sex or pleasure
  • previous traumatic experiences

Pregnancy and parenting can lead to multiple types of stress, as well as physical changes that may affect sexual function and desire. These factors may affect libido before and after giving birth.

For example, a 2017 study of Iranian women found that prenatal anxiety and low quality of life affected sexual function during pregnancy. A 2020 study of women in Turkey found that 66% or participants had some form of sexual dysfunction in the year after giving birth.

Factors that made sexual dysfunction more likely in this study included:

  • giving birth for the first time
  • tearing, episiotomy, or injury during delivery
  • relationship dissatisfaction after delivery
  • stress, anxiety, or depression

Learn more about sex drive during pregnancy.

In addition to pregnancy, there are other types of hormonal changes that females can experience during their lifetime. These changes can sometimes impact sex drive, as well as a person’s physical response to arousal.

Factors that may contribute include:

The term “sexual dysfunction” encompasses a range of conditions and symptoms that make it difficult, or less appealing, to have sex.

Low sexual desire can be part of sexual dysfunction, but physical symptoms can also play a role. Examples include:

  • dryness
  • pain during sex
  • difficulty having an orgasm

These difficulties in themselves could lead to a loss of desire, particularly if a person feels embarrassed by them or does not know how to manage them. However, many types of sexual dysfunction are treatable.

If a person has physical symptoms that are interfering with sex, such as pain or unusual bleeding, they should contact a doctor. Sometimes, these symptoms can indicate a more serious condition, which a doctor can rule out via testing.

Many chronic health conditions can impact sexuality. This could be due to:

  • Physical barriers: Chronic fatigue, pain, or other symptoms can make it physically difficult to have sex.
  • Self-image: Having a chronic illness or disability can affect how a person sees themselves. For example, a 2021 study of women who had undergone mastectomies for breast cancer found that 90% of participants had sexual dysfunction and that this had associations with body image.
  • Worry and stigma: Some conditions, such as sexually transmitted infections, can have social stigma attached to them. For example, a 2022 meta-analysis of previous research found that having genital warts negatively affected sexual function in females in almost every way.

A low sex drive in females can occur for a variety of reasons. This is because sexual health is tied to physical and mental health, with each having an influence on the other.

Physical health conditions, mental health conditions, stress, and relationship problems can all have a negative impact.

However, it is important to note that for some people, changes in sex drive are typical, and do not necessarily indicate that there is a problem.

Anyone with concerns about their sex drive can speak with a doctor or sexual health specialist for insight and advice. It is especially important that people with physical symptoms, such as pain or bleeding during sex, speak with a health professional as soon as they can.