What causes low libido in young women?

A large number (40%) of my clients are women under the age of 35. Of this 40 percent, many are struggling with low libido. This isn't unique to the women in my practice. It has been reported that more and more young women still in their prime are struggling with low libido (1).

While a women's sex drive naturally fluctuates over the years, many of my clients feel they should not be experiencing low libido in their 20s and early 30s. Truthfully, if you feel something is wrong, you should not ignore the issue.

A healthy sex life is an important part of a happy relationship and a fulfilling life.

Below, we explore the five reasons young women have low libido and what to do about it.


5 Causes of low libido in young women

1. Sex is painful

For some women, sex can be painful. This can occur for a couple of reasons. A condition called Vaginismus causes spasms in the pelvic floor muscles and can make entrance extremely tight or impossible. Some couples manage to have penetrative sex anyway, but it is painful.

Birth control pills and other medications can also cause painful sex and reduce libido. A woman's response to the pill is variable, and you should be aware that the pill can negatively impact your libido as well as cause painful sex (2).

It is understandable painful sex will affect your libido. It is also important to understand that painful sex is treatable. Working with a therapist to help you discover the cause and then find the solution can save you years of suffering from the negative effect of low libido on your sex life.


2. Genital Shame

In my practice, I have seen many women who are ashamed of their genitals and think they are ugly. Our society, directly and indirectly, teaches women to be ashamed of, fear, and hate their genitals. Girls, while growing up may be given the impression their genitals are dirty and so don't learn to love, and may become ashamed of their bodies.

Feeling ashamed of your genitals can cause low libido and prevent enjoyment of sex.


3. Stress and Anxiety

Both stress and anxiety can have a negative effect on your sex drive.

When we are stressed and anxious, we worry excessively about so many things, many of which we have no control over. In addition to the negative mental focus, stress is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as an upset stomach, headaches, and muscle tension.

Uncomfortable or distressing physical symptoms and worry will dampen your desire for sexual activity.

If you are stressed and anxious, it is important to take steps to reduce your stress levels and anxiety. Therapy can help you explore the underlying issues that are linked to your anxiety and teach you practical coping skills to relieve and reduce stress. Therapy with a sex therapist is a medication-free option to reduce mental health symptoms and allow you to explore how these issues are impacting your sex life. If you have anxiety, a sex therapist can treat the anxiety, and teach you how to minimize its effect on your sex life.


4. Depression

Researchers have found people with depression are affected by low libido. Those suffering from depression often report low interest or desire for sex. Unfortunately, anti-depressant medications can also lower libido (3).

Even low to moderate depression can lower your libido. Many people may have mild depression and do not know it. Symptoms such as low motivation and irritability or persistent general dissatisfaction with life can signal that something is wrong.

Sometimes sex therapy will uncover an underlying issue such as depression. When depression is treated, libido returns. If you or your partner are suffering from depression it is important to understand that depression is among the most treatable of disorders. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy are known to be effective in treating depression and anxiety (4). If you have depression, your sex therapist can treat your depression and teach you how to minimize how depression affects your libido.

If you would like to learn more, reach out and get help.


5. Sleep deprivation

Sleep is important for a number of bodily functions. Researchers have linked poor sleep with a range of health issues including low libido.

A study in the journal of sexual medicine found low sleep quality was linked to sexual problems in both men and women. In women, low sleep quality was associated with arousal problems and orgasmic difficulty. In men, low sleep quality was associated with increased odds of erectile dysfunction (5).

If you are not getting enough sleep, find out why and make the necessary changes. If it is your schedule, you need to prioritize sleep. Sleep is as important to life quality as a healthy diet and exercise.


Get your libido back

Here's a link to some great little exercises to do with pre-foreplay. Want some personal help? Dallas sex therapist Lauren Jordan can help you enjoy sex, help you or your partner with low libido, or strengthen your relationship. To learn more, schedule a free phone consultation.



  1. James. S. D. (April, 21, 2010). More young women, 18-30, report low libido. ABC News. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/ReproductiveHealth/young-women-desire-sex-low-libido/story?id=10428648
  2. Battaglia, C., Battaglia, B., Mancini, F., Busacchi, P., Paganotto, M. C., Morotti, E., & Venturoli, S. (2012). Sexual behavior and oral contraception: a pilot studyThe journal of sexual medicine9(2), 550-557.
  3. Phillips Jr, R. L., & Slaughter, J. R. (2000). Depression and sexual desire. American Family Physician62(4), 782-786.
  4. Tang, T. Z., & DeRubeis, R. J. (1999). Sudden gains and critical sessions in cognitive-behavioral therapy for depressionJournal of consulting and clinical psychology67(6), 894.
  5. Smith, L., Grabovac, I., Veronese, N., Soysal, P., Isik, A. T., Stubbs, B., ... & Jackson, S. E. (2019). Sleep quality, duration, and associated sexual function at older age: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The journal of sexual medicine16(3), 427-433.
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