Sex Drive Killers: Causes of Low Libido

A stressed man in a conference room.

Sex-Drive Killer: Stress

The body does not react well to stress. Emotional stress may affect physical function, including sexual desire and performance. Realizing what underlying stressors may exist is the first step in treatment. Self-help may work but some people may need to visit a counselor or doctor.

An arguing couple sitting on a sofa.

Sex-Drive Killer: Partner

Sexual desire requires two to tango. Both partners need to feel connected and women especially need the feeling of being close. Poor communications, a sense of betrayal, lack of trust, and repeated fighting and criticism may create a relationship that lacks closeness and intimacy. Counseling may be the answer if couples find that the issues are too tough to resolve on their own.

A drunk man on a sofa.

Sex-Drive Killer: Alcohol

Alcohol is usually not the answer to any problem. While alcohol may decrease inhibitions, it also decreases sexual performance and libido. Your partner may not appreciate a drunken advance and may be turned off by it. Alcohol is an addictive drug and you may need help to quit.

A silhouette of houses at night.

Sex-Drive Killer: Too Little Sleep

As with any physical activity, a rested body increases performance. Lack of sleep, including lack of proper sleep, may be the culprit that decreases sex drive. Sleep apnea is a potential cause for lack of good sleep and lack of libido. Medical help may be needed if you or your partner suspect it.

A couple with their newborn in bed.

Sex-Drive Killer: Having Kids

Being a parent is a full-time job and you need to carve out time without a child or baby around. Planning quiet time for intimacy and sexual desire may require some creative thinking, like having sex when the baby naps, or hiring a babysitter so mom and dad can have a play date.

A man taking pills before bed.

Sex-Drive Killer: Medication

Side effects of many prescription medications include loss of libido and sex drive. Some examples include:

  • High blood pressure medications including water pills and beta blockers
  • Cold medications that contain antihistamines and decongestants
  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Narcotic pain pills
  • Chemotherapy drugs

If this is the cause, your doctor may be able to suggest a medication alternative that might have fewer side effects.

A woman looking at her rear in the mirror.

Sex Drive Killer: Poor Body Image

Sexy is as sexy feels. Many people have low self-esteem when it comes to their body shape and this can affect their sex drive and desire. Being happy with yourself is an important first step. A supportive partner always helps.

A woman checking her weight on a scale.

Sex-Drive Killer: Obesity

Obesity affects one-third of all Americans and being overweight can limit desire because of decreased sexual enjoyment, lack of performance, and poor self-esteem. How you feel about yourself goes a long way in affecting how you enjoy sex. Counseling may be helpful.

A senior man being consoled.

Sex-Drive Killer: Erection Problems

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can not only affect the ability to have intercourse but also how a man feels about his ability to perform. There are many options available to treat ED and your doctor can help find the option that is best for you and your partner.

A senior man and younger man at the beach.

Sex-Drive Killer: Low T

While a man's testosterone level gradually falls with aging, there is not necessarily any relationship between hormone levels and the desire for sex. It is just one potential cause for decreased libido and your doctor may want to look for other causes in addition to just low testosterone (“low T”).

A depressed woman being consoled.

Sex-Drive Killer: Depression

Depression affects all facets of life including sex drive. Losing pleasure in daily activities often requires treatment including counseling and perhaps medication. Unfortunately, some antidepressants also depress libido. Your doctor and therapist need to know if low sex drive is one of your symptoms of depression.

A woman in a boat looking at the sunset.

Sex-Drive Killer: Menopause

Menopause may cause physical changes that affect intercourse, including vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse (dyspareunia). Treatments are available to enhance sexual desire and function after menopause.

A distanced couple sitting on the couch and watching TV.

Sex-Drive Killer: Lack of Closeness

Making love is more than just sex. Intimacy and closeness are important part of a healthy love life. If sexual desire is waning, it may be time to inject romance back into the relationship. Snuggling, giving each other massages, and spending casual time together may help ignite that spark.



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  • The Journal of Sexual Medicine
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