Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: Can we treat it with drugs?

Rossella E. Nappi, Erica Terreno, Ellis Martini, Francesca Albani, Valentina Santamaria, Silvia Tonani, Franco Polatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a common multidimensional condition which is characterized by a decrease in sexual desire that causes marked personal distress and/or interpersonal difficulty. There are a number of potential causes and contributing factors to HSDD and a balanced approach comprising both biological and psycho-relational factors is mandatory for accurate diagnosis and tailored management in clinical practice. It is clearly evident that sex hormones play a crucial role in modulating sexual response during the entire reproductive life span of women. On the other hand, a better understanding of the neurobiological basis of sexual desire supports the idea that selective psychoactive agents may be proposed as non-hormonal treatments to restore the balance between excitatory and inhibitory stimuli leading to a normal sexual response cycle. However, there are currently no approved pharmacological treatments for premenopausal women with HSDD, while transdermal testosterone is approved in Europe for post-menopausal women who experience HSDD as a result of a bilateral oophorectomy. That being so, the ideal clinical approach remains to be established in term of efficacy and safety and further research is needed to develop specific pharmacotherapies for individualized care of women with sexual dysfunction of any age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-274
Number of pages11
JournalSexual and Relationship Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • Distress
  • Psychoactive drugs
  • Sexual desire
  • Surgical menopause
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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