Depressed woman with her boyfriend in bedroom

Diminished Sex Drive Caused by Menstruation

Ask the Expert

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Q:

Why does a woman's sex drive drop when she's menstruating?

A:

Hmmm. It sounds as if your sex drive is diminished during your menstrual cycle. Because if there's one thing that's important to understand about a woman's sexual drive, it's that it is all individual. Having said that, there is evidence that the peaks and valleys of various hormones throughout a woman's menstrual cycle (not just when she's menstruating) can affect her libido, or sexual desire.

For instance, one 2004 study found that women tend to be more sexually active on days just prior to and during ovulation (from about day 10 to 15 of your monthly cycle), when levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) rise. This makes sense given our genetic programming to reproduce.

Other studies find that women who experience various symptoms before their period (bloating, headaches, mood changes, etc.) are less interested in having sex and have less sex than other times of their cycle. One study even found these women have less frequent orgasms and get less satisfaction from their orgasms just before their periods than in the middle of their cycles. Conversely, another study found that women without any premenstrual symptoms were more interested in sex just before their periods than in the middle of their cycle.

See what I mean? Every woman is different.

As for sexual desire during her period, well, there are lots of reasons as to why a woman might be less interested in sex. She might be having cramps, heavy bleeding (which can make sex messy), or not feel at her best because of bloating.

If you feel less desire during your period and it's a problem for you or your partner, I recommend talking to your health care professional or a qualified therapist. There may be some hidden issues contributing to your lack of desire that can be resolved. However, if your lack of desire during these few days of your cycle isn't causing any problems or concerns for you or your partner, then I would simply chalk it up to your own personal "sexual desire" personality, and not worry about it.

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