Share this article Share 'I just became less and less interested in sex,' she says. Not that I wasn't interested in the idea - but it just didn't do anything for me. My answer was to throw myself wholeheartedly into my business and everything else, so I wouldn't think about the problem. Nicky Allen - pictured with her partner of two years, Patrick Johnson - has been married thee times but has suffered from a decline in her sex drive for the past 29 years Studies in Britain, Europe and America, involving thousands of women of all ages, indicate that anything between 30 and 50 per cent of women have been hit by prolonged periods of little or no sex drive.
While women can be affected by loss of sex drive at any age, life changes such as childbirth and the menopause also play a part Other surveys have shown that more than a third of women do not experience orgasm with a partner, or find sex actively painful. The causes of this still relatively little-understood problem are complex, and range from the biological to the psychological and even social.
Increasing research is focusing on testosterone levels in women, for example. While women can be affected by loss of sex drive at any age, life changes such as childbirth and the menopause also play a part. Nicky Allen and Patrick Johnson in July this year at a party in London When a woman loses interest in sex, the impact on both her and her partner can be catastrophic.
Author Nicci Talbot, 38, from Hastings, East Sussex, knows the agony caused by a lack of sex drive only too well. She spent most of her late teens and early 20s wondering why she was so different to other women. Nicci Talbot, a year-old woman from Hastings, Sussex, always wondered why she had no interest in sex As a young woman, Nicci had almost no interest in sex - but she was too embarrassed to discuss the problem with anyone.
I just didn't feel much excitement or sexual responsiveness, and my boyfriend wasn't really interested in understanding what the problem was. It meant I suffered hugely from a lack of physical and psychological confidence. However, the contraceptive Pill prescribed to regulate her periods and, hopefully, to improve her hormone levels and libido, seemed to reduce her sex drive even further, and doctors were unable to offer any alternative.
I would have felt stupid, though now I have spoken to lots of women and learned it's very common. And can it be treated effectively? Many experts believe that a general reduction in women's levels of testosterone may be to blame.
Contrary to popular opinion, testosterone is not just a male hormone. Healthy young women have ten times more testosterone than oestrogen circulating in their bodies, and it regulates mood, energy and libido in women almost as much as it does in men. Production of the hormone is stimulated by regular sex - meaning once a woman loses interest in intercourse, it can become a vicious circle. But levels of testosterone in women decline naturally by an average of 50 per cent between the ages of 20 and 45, and continue to decline - though rather less dramatically - as part of the general ageing process.
However, inexplicably, some women experience a much greater fall in the level of the hormone - which may explain why an absence of sex drive might occur at any age. Many experts believe that a general reduction in women's levels of testosterone may be to blame Part of the problem is that tests to investigate testosterone levels remain largely limited to men, because results on women have proved unreliable. The proliferation of libido-boosters for men, such as Viagra, also seem to be exacerbating the problem Efforts to develop a testosterone patch, called Intrinsa - billed as the female answer to Viagra - in , were abandoned because of fears the hormone treatment could cause blood clots or the development of bodily hair and other male characteristics.
Although other lower-dose, safer versions of the patches have come on to the market, they are not licensed to be prescribed by the NHS, so doctors wanting to prescribe it to women have to do so privately.
Professor John Studd, a Harley Street gynaecologist who specialises in treating women with libido problems, says he is now successfully using lower-dose testosterone patches on up to 50 patients a week, in an attempt to restore their sex drives.
Martin Godfrey, a GP in Central London who has treated many women suffering from a reduced sex drive, says the proliferation of libido-boosters for men, such as Viagra, also seem to be exacerbating the problem On some women, he uses oestrogen patches instead, as inadequate levels of the so-called 'female' hormone can also drastically impact on a female's desire for sex.
Professor Studd says there's no risk of blood-clotting disorders, like those associated with the contraceptive Pill, because patches mean the extra oestrogen is delivered via the skin. Hospitals that used to supply libido-boosting hormone implants and patches to women are refusing to do so on the grounds of cost. Nicky Allen claims to have transformed her failing sex life with a device called the PelvicToner Martin Godfrey, a GP in Central London who has treated many women suffering from a reduced sex drive, says the proliferation of libido-boosters for men, such as Viagra, also seem to be exacerbating the problem.
It makes a lot of women feel insecure and inadequate. More and more people are now coming forward and asking for help. It is a vicious circle. And then there's the menopause. In an ongoing international study of 8, post-menopausal women, two out of five British women said 'the change' had wrecked their sex lives because tissue dries up and sex becomes uncomfortable.
But a lack of desire can affect women at any age. Claire Turner, 26, a PR consultant who now lives in London, says the sexual spark has deserted her, even though her devotion to her boyfriend of seven years is as strong as ever. Some commonly prescribed medications are also now known to have a negative impact on desire, from the contraceptive Pill to anti-depressants, painkillers and blood pressure treatments 'Things have just changed,' she says.
The financial stress certainly didn't help matters. It makes me feel I am not normal. Additionally, GP Sarah Brewer says increasing numbers of woman are turning to natural sex-drive boosters including gingko biloba, St John's wort and black cohosh, but she admits they may not work. Nicci Talbot, meanwhile, claims herbal treatments helped her. After finishing her English degree, she went travelling in Australia where she learned of black cohosh and angelica, two plant-based libido treatments.
Nicci says the herbs, used alongside counselling and acupuncture, solved her libido problems. She returned to the UK and embarked on a love affair that led to the birth of her daughter, who is now six.
Nicci says the herbs, used alongside counselling and acupuncture, solved her libido problems - and led to the birth of her daughter, now six Though the relationship did not last and she is single again, she says she now feels sexual excitement when she meets someone she is attracted to.
Nicky Allen, meanwhile, claims to have transformed her failing sex life with a device called the PelvicToner, the only such gadget to be available via prescription on the NHS. For the past two years, she has been with a new partner, and is at last enjoying sex. It didn't take long, and it really worked. I think it is a tragedy that women are expected to do nothing when an important part of their lives just disappears.
Why do women stop wanting sex? Nearly HALF of all women will suffer from lost libido, with devastating consequences, but only now are the reasons are emerging.