What Is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

  • Jennifer Grace Biomedical Sciences, The University of Manchester, UK
  • Raadhika Agrawal Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India


In the past few years, an increase in awareness of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), a complex yet prevalent sexual health problem, has

been seen. HSDD is a condition characterized by a persistent or recurrent lack of sexual fantasies and desires and can have a substantial impact on a person’s general well-being and quality of life. Both men and women can be affected by HSDD, which has prompted an awareness and comprehension of this condition.

This article aims to aid in a better understanding of HSDD, including its causes, risk factors, potential treatments, and coping mechanisms. One can learn practical tips for navigating and managing this condition effectively by addressing these factors. Additionally, this article will promote the importance of promoting sexual health education and promoting open discussion about sexual desire to contribute to improved awareness and support for those affected with HSDD.

The basics of HSDD

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) represents a nuanced challenge in the field of sexual health, characterized by a prolonged and agonizing lack of sexual desire.1 It is essential to comprehend the fundamental features of this condition in order to assess how it affects particular individuals and distinguish it from the spectrum of typical sexual variations. The notion of HSDD has changed throughout time in response to shifting cultural attitudes towards sexual health. In order to ensure that people who actually experience this condition may receive the right assistance and treatments, its diagnostic criteria have been refined to distinguish it from transient changes in sexual desire. 

Signs and symptoms of HSDD

The signs and symptoms of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) take many different forms, impacting not only the individual experiencing the condition but also their intimate relationships. Common symptoms often include:

  • Persistent lack of interest or desire for sexual activity, leading to feelings of distress and frustration
  • No sexual fantasies or sexual thoughts
  • Avoiding sex 

Individuals with HSDD may find themselves experiencing a diminished sense of pleasure or intimacy during sexual encounters, which often cause emotional stress and a sense of disconnection in their relationship. Distress over a lack of libido and sexual activity is the most important sign to notice. Your lack of interest in having sex is not a disorder if it doesn’t worry you or your partner.2

Recognizing these symptoms is crucial in understanding the psychological and emotional toll that HSDD can have on people. The continuous absence of sexual desire may be accompanied by feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame, which could lead to additional psychological distress.1 Such emotional turmoil can put stress on close relationships, leading to misunderstandings and communication barriers between partners. 

In order to effectively treat these symptoms, it is essential to know when to seek expert assistance. By acknowledging the impact of HSDD on both the individual and their relationships, you can make informed decisions to seek the required support and guidance. Raising awareness of the potential repercussions of untreated HSDD can motivate those who are affected to put their sexual health and well-being first, seeking assistance from healthcare specialists skilled in handling the complexity of this condition.

Causes and risk factors of HSDD

The causes of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), which has biological, psychological, and social components, are numerous. Hormonal abnormalities such as variations in testosterone or oestrogen levels, which can directly affect sexual desire, may be one of the biological causes causing HSDD.1 The development of HSDD may also be influenced by neurological variables, such as alterations in brain chemistry or functioning, emphasizing the complex interactions between the brain and sexual response.3

Furthermore, one’s sexual desire can be greatly impacted by psychological variables, such as excessive levels of stress, anxiety, or underlying mental health disorders, potentially resulting in the beginning of HSDD.4 Moreover, relationship problems, such as unsolved disputes or a lack of emotional intimacy, can also contribute to the onset or worsening of HSDD, highlighting the complex interactions between interpersonal dynamics and sexual desire.3

Social and cultural factors, including societal expectations surrounding sexual performance and norms, can influence an individual’s perception of sexual desire and impact their experience of HSDD.4 One’s attitudes towards sexuality can be significantly shaped by cultural norms on gender roles and societal taboos around sexual expression, which may have an impact on the onset of HSDD.

It is essential to know these various risk factors and causes in order to fully appreciate the complexity of HSDD and its varied origins. A holistic approach to treating HSDD can be adopted by people and healthcare professionals by recognizing the complex interplay between biological, physiological, and social aspects.3 This approach includes both medical and psychological interventions that are personalized to the individual’s unique needs. Additionally, being aware of these complex elements can help in the creation of thorough treatment plans that concentrate on addressing the underlying causes of HSDD while fostering overall well-being.

Diagnosis and assessment

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) diagnosis and assessment demand a thorough and sophisticated strategy that includes both medical and psychological tests. Accurate diagnoses and suitable treatment strategies depend on the importance of expert evaluation in the detection and management of HSDD.1 Healthcare experts may use a variety of techniques, such as surveys and interviews, to complete in-depth data on a person’s sexual history, interpersonal dynamics, and psychological health.3

To rule out any underlying physiological factors contributing to HSDD, medical evaluations may also involve assessing hormone levels and performing physical exams.3 Psychological evaluations could look at a person’s mental health, pinpoint stressors, and investigate any emotional or traumatic baggage that might be influencing sexual desire.3 Given that depression and HSDD are symbiotic, screening for depression is particularly essential.1 By using a thorough diagnostic process, medical practitioners can develop individualized treatment regimens that target the particular underlying causes of HSDD and develop a more holistic understanding of the patient’s experiences.

It is crucial to establish a secure and non-judgmental environment for the assessment procedure. Encouragement of open and honest communication between patients and medical staff can give people the confidence to freely express their experiences and worries, leading to a more precise diagnosis and customized treatment plan. Healthcare practitioners may help people feel appreciated and validated by creating a supportive environment, which will assist in building trust and facilitating productive therapy relationships. 

Treatment options

A wide variety of pharmacological, psychological, and behavioural interventions specifically crafted to address the unique requirements and underlying causes of each patient are included in the therapy of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Hormone treatment such as Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) therapy is one type of medical intervention that may be used to control hormonal imbalances that may be causing HSDD.5 In addition, doctors may prescribe medications that affect neurotransmitters or other physiological aspects of sexual desire, such as Flibanserin (Addyi), offering potential relief and enhancing sexual function.6

Individuals can benefit from the tools and tactics that psychological interventions, such as sex therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy, can offer to address the underlying psychological problems causing HSDD.1 By fostering a deeper knowledge of one’s sexual desire and building a positive and successful sexual connection, sex therapy can assist individuals and couples in enhancing communication, intimacy, and sexual satisfaction. By helping people recognize and change harmful thought patterns and behaviours that might be impeding sexual desire, cognitive-behavioural therapy can help people develop a more positive and flexible perspective on sexuality.

Moreover, lifestyle changes and self-help strategies can play a crucial role in managing HSDD. These might include methods for reducing stress, regular exercise and healthy lifestyle decisions meant to enhance general well-being and foster a favourable sexual self-image.4 Exploring innovative approaches to improve sexual encounters and promoting open communication and intimacy in relationships can all help with the holistic management of HSDD.

Support and coping strategies

Individuals and their romantic relationships may experience severe emotional and psychological stress as a result of dealing with HSDD. In order to manage the difficulties associated with HSDD and promote mental well-being, it is essential to put appropriate support and coping methods into place. In order to promote empathy and understanding in close relationships, partner involvement and open communication are essential.4 A better and more robust relationship can be cultivated by encouraging partners to share their emotions, worries and wants in a non-judgmental and encouraging environment.

Creating a network of trusted friends, family members, or support groups can give people a secure setting in which to share their experiences and look for emotional support and direction. Talking openly with others who have experienced same difficulties can provide one a sense of validation and assurance, easing the loneliness and stigma frequently connected with SHDD. Exploring coping mechanisms like stress management, mindfulness practices, and healthy communication can also help people build resilience and improve their overall emotional well-being, enabling them to deal with the complexity of HSDD with more self-assurance.3

Furthermore, in order to build a more inclusive and informed view of sexual desire and function, it is crucial to promote sexual health education and raise awareness about HSDD. It is possible to normalize dialogues about sexual health and foster a more supportive and understanding social environment by promoting open discussions about sexual desire and dispelling widespread myths and stigmas associated with HSDD. Individuals can be empowered to comprehend the subtleties of sexual desire and function by receiving comprehensive sexual education that takes into account various sexual orientations and identities, fostering a more inclusive and accepting attitude toward sexual diversity.


Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is a significant sexual health issue characterized by a persistent lack of sexual interest, which can strain both individuals and their relationships. Recognizing its signs and multifaceted origins, including hormonal imbalances and psychological stress, underlines the importance of timely professional intervention and a holistic treatment approach. Accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plans, integrating medical and psychological evaluations, are crucial in addressing the specific needs pf individuals; implementing effective support strategies, such as open communication and building a strong support network, can aid in coping with the emotional toll of HSDD while promoting sexual health education and dispelling stigmas can foster a more inclusive and empathetic societal approach to sexual well-being.


  1. Pachano Pesantez GS, Clayton AH. Treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder Among Women: General Considerations and Pharmacological Options. FOCUS. 2021 Jan;19(1):39–45.
  2. Bernstein S. Desire Disorder: When You’ve Lost Interest in Sex [Internet]. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/desire-disorder
  3. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) [Internet]. www.plannedparenthood.org. Available from: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-pleasure-and-sexual-dysfunction/sexual-dysfunction/hypoactive-sexual-desire-disorder-hsdd
  4. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD): What to know [Internet]. www.medicalnewstoday.com. 2022. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hypoactive-sexual-desire-disorder
  5. Bolour SY, Braunstein GD. Pharmacologic Treatment Options for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Women’s Health. 2005 Sep;1(2):263–77.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Jennifer Grace

Biomedical Sciences, The University of Manchester

My name is Jennifer Grace, and this September marks the beginning of my final year pursuing BSc. (Hons) Biomedical Science studies at the University of Manchester. Born in Indonesia, I embarked on a journey fueled by curiosity. From a young age, my passion for Biology and healthcare framework emerged, propelling my achievements of biological science. Driven by my ardour for scientific exploration, I have actively engaged with various organizations dedicated to environmental and healthcare frameworks. My commitment to advancing science found expression through my participation in the Klarity internship program as an article writer to improve my writing skills, especially scientific writing skills. With each step, I'm unflinchingly dedicated to blending my affection for science with a significant feeling of direction for my career.

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