Question: How does a menstrual cycle affect a woman’s sex drive? Is her sex drive only high when she’s ovulating?
Answer: A woman’s sex drive can be complicated. Many women report having high sex drives during ovulation, and biologically, this makes sense because of hormone shifts. During a menstrual cycle, levels of certain hormones in the body start to rise. Estrogen is one of these hormones but there’s also follicle stimulating hormone, progesterone and luteinizing hormone involved in a complicated dance conducted by the brain’s pituitary gland. The hormone shifts are what’s most relevant to a woman’s interest in sex. But if the key to a woman’s sex drive was a simple connection to hormone manipulation, big pharmaceutical companies would be making billions on lady boner/sex drive pills.
Hormones affect everyone in a different way. Checking hormone levels is a good start in treating libido issues, but for most women it’s just a start. According to the Mayo Clinic, "A woman’s desire for sex is based on a complex interaction of many components affecting intimacy, including physical well-being, emotional well-being, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle and current relationship. If you’re experiencing a challenge in any of these areas, it can affect your sexual desire." It’s normal for desire to wax and wane over the course of our lifetimes. Some women report feeling more interested in sex when they ovulate, but some report higher arousal before, during their period, or after ovulation. If desire for sex is waning, we recommend the book, Return of Desire by Gina Ogden. It’s engaging, well-researched and offers wonderful anecdotes from women across the lifespan.
For many women, it’s things other than hormones that really get them going, like romance, having someone else put the kids to bed or being kinky. The best way to figure out what turns on a woman is to ask her.
This is a conversation we have almost every day at Self Serve with people who want to have more sex or reignite passion. Sometimes the excitement of trying something new, like sex toys or getting tied up, can help kick-start your libido better than a pill.
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Questions are answered by Self Serve Staff and edited by Hunter Riley.
\Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider for any medical condition.