Acetylcholine  Sex hormone levels and the menstrual cycle[ edit ] A woman's desire for sex is correlated to her menstrual cycle , with many women experiencing a heightened sexual desire in the several days immediately before ovulation ,  which is her peak fertility period, which normally occurs two days before until two days after the ovulation.
According to Gabrielle Lichterman, testosterone levels have a direct impact on a woman's interest in sex. According to her, testosterone levels rise gradually from about the 24th day of a woman's menstrual cycle until ovulation on about the 14th day of the next cycle, and during this period the woman's desire for sex increases consistently.
The 13th day is generally the day with the highest testosterone levels. In the week following ovulation, the testosterone level is the lowest and as a result women will experience less interest in sex. Although the last days of the menstrual cycle are marked by a constant testosterone level, women's libido may get a boost as a result of the thickening of the uterine lining which stimulates nerve endings and makes a woman feel aroused.
Although some specialists disagree with this theory, menopause is still considered by the majority a factor that can cause decreased sex desire in women. The levels of estrogen decrease at menopause and this usually causes a lower interest in sex and vaginal dryness which makes intercourse painful. However, the levels of testosterone increase at menopause and this may be why some women may experience a contrary effect of an increased libido.
These factors can include lack of privacy or intimacy , stress or fatigue , distraction or depression. Environmental stress, such as prolonged exposure to elevated sound levels or bright light , can also affect libido.
Other causes include experience of sexual abuse, assault, trauma, or neglect, body image issues, and anxiety about engaging in sexual activity. A study of 28 males aged 21—45 found that all but one of them had a peak On the other hand, a reduced libido is also often iatrogenic and can be caused by many medications, such as hormonal contraception , SSRIs and other antidepressants , antipsychotics , opioids and beta blockers.
Testosterone is one of the hormones controlling libido in human beings. Emerging research  is showing that hormonal contraception methods like oral contraceptive pills which rely on estrogen and progesterone together are causing low libido in females by elevating levels of sex hormone binding globulin SHBG. SHBG binds to sex hormones, including testosterone, rendering them unavailable. Research is showing that even after ending a hormonal contraceptive method, SHBG levels remain elevated and no reliable data exists to predict when this phenomenon will diminish.
In contrast, a female's libido increases slowly during adolescence and peaks in her mid-thirties. Sexual desire disorders[ edit ] See also: Hypoactive sexual desire disorder and Hypersexuality There is no widely accepted measure of what is a healthy level for sex desire. Some people want to have sex every day, or more than once a day; others once a year or not at all.
However, a person who lacks a desire for sexual activity for some period of time may be experiencing a hypoactive sexual desire disorder or may be asexual. A sexual desire disorder is more common in women than in men. The American Medical Association has estimated that several million US women suffer from a female sexual arousal disorder , though arousal is not at all synonymous with desire, so this finding is of limited relevance to the discussion of libido.
Also, women commonly lack sexual desire in the period immediately after giving birth. Moreover, any condition affecting the genital area can make women reject the idea of having intercourse. It has been estimated that half of women experience different health problems in the area of the vagina and vulva , such as thinning, tightening, dryness or atrophy.
Frustration may appear as a result of these issues and because many of them lead to painful sexual intercourse, many women prefer not having sex at all.
Surgery or major health conditions such as arthritis , cancer , diabetes , high blood pressure , coronary artery disease or infertility may have the same effect in women.