Scientists have found evidence that a low-cost, risk-free psychological treatment for women with low sexual desire is effective and may be a better alternative to drugs that have adverse side effects.
"Low sexual desire is the number one problem women bring to sex therapists," said Laurie Mintz from University of Missouri.
"Drugs to treat low sexual desire may take the focus away from the most common culprits of diminished desire in women, including lack of information on how our own bodies work, body image issues, relationship issues and a stressful lifestyle.
"Indeed, research demonstrates that relationship issues are far more important in predicting women's sexual desire than are hormone levels. Before women seek medical treatments, they should consider psychological treatment," she added.
Mintz has authored a book based on this premise. In her book, Mintz suggests a six-step psycho-educational and cognitive-behavioural treatment approach that she based on scientific literature and more than 20 years of clinical knowledge.
The treatment plan includes chapters about one's thoughts about sex, how to talk with your partner, the importance of spending time together, ways to touch each other in both erotic and non-erotic ways, how to make time for sex and different ways to make sexual activity exciting and thus, increase women's sexual desire.
In a study demonstrating the effectiveness of her treatment, Mintz recruited married women between the ages of 28 to 65, who said they were uninterested in sexual activity. All the women were employed and a majority had children. All participants completed an online survey that measured sexual desire and sexual functioning.
Then half of the participants were selected randomly to read her book and perform the exercises outlined in her book. After six weeks, they were emailed the same survey again. The control group did not read the book.
Mintz found that the intervention group who read the book made significant gains in sexual desire and sexual functioning, compared to the control group who did not read the book. On average, women who read the book increased their level of sexual desire by almost 30 percent.
"This finding is especially exciting because low sexual desire among women has been not only the most common, but the least successfully treated of all the sexual problems brought to therapists" Mintz said.
Mintz will present her findings at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) annual conference.
The study has been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.