Low Sex Drive in Men
In many cases, low sex drive in men is an issue that sneaks up unexpectedly. First, let’s make one thing clear: libido is something that naturally waxes and wanes over the course of our lives. Simply not being in the mood at the same time as your partner isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm.
In addition, decreased sex drive should not be confused with erectile dysfunction issues – which is a separate concern that requires unique treatment.
The unfortunate thing about a loss of sex drive for men is that there may not be one single cause. Instead, there is a range of complicated underlying issues that may not be easy to identify or cure. For example, a loss of sex drive for males may be attributed to any or a combination of these factors:
- General Lifestyle
If your lack of sex drive has persisted for a long period of time, then it’s time to dive a little deeper into what the potential cause or causes may be.
What is hypogonadism?
Hypogonadism occurs when sex glands called gonads produce little if any, sex hormones. It affects teenagers and adults of all genders. The condition causes a low sex drive or libido. Hypogonadism is sometimes called gonad deficiency.
What is low libido (Low sex drive in men)?
Low libido describes a decreased interest in sexual activity.
It’s common to lose interest in sex from time to time, and libido levels vary through life. It’s also normal for your interest not to match your partner’s at times.
However, low libido for a long period of time may cause concern for some people. It can sometimes be an indicator of an underlying health condition.
What are the types of libido?
Two glands in your brain, the hypothalamus, and pituitary, send signals to sex glands. These signals tell your body to make sex hormones. When you have hypogonadism, something within the brain or sex glands interferes with hormone production.
Healthcare providers look at the cause to determine if hypogonadism is:
Primary libido: A problem within the sex glands that slows or stops hormone production.
Secondary (central) libido: A problem with brain signals affects hormone production.
Low Hormones (Low Testosterone)
Testosterone is an important male hormone. In men, it’s mostly produced in the testicles. Testosterone is responsible for building muscles and bone mass, and for stimulating sperm production. Your testosterone levels also factor into your sex drive.
Normal testosterone levels will vary. However, adult men are considered to have low testosterone, or low T, when their levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), according to guidelines from the American Urological Association (AUA).
When your testosterone levels decrease, your desire for sex also decreases. Decreasing testosterone is a normal part of aging. However, a drastic drop in testosterone can lead to decreased libido.
Talk to your doctor if you think this might be an issue for you. You may be able to take supplements or gels to increase your testosterone levels.
Medications for happy sex life
Prescribed medications like selective serotonin receptor inhibitors (SSRIs) or phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as Viagra (sildenafil)—especially when taken together—can be effective for PE. Studies have found that combining phosphodiesterase inhibitors and behavioral therapy is successful.
They also won’t cause you to develop an erection on their own. Instead, they just make it easier to get an erection when you’re already in the mood for sex.
There are five PDE5 inhibitors approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ED:
- Viagra (sildenafil) tablets, approved 1998
- Cialis (tadalafil) tablets, approved 2003
- Levitra (vardenafil) tablets, approved 2003
- Staxyn (vardenafil) dissolvable tablets, approved 2010
- Stendra (avanafil) tablets, approved 2012
Caused Of Low Libido In Men
Here are a few potential causes of low libido in men.
Medication Caused Low Libido In Men
Certain medications may cause low libido in men. These may include entire classes of drugs that can affect a man’s sex drive to varying degrees. Common culprits include:
Even over-the-counter drugs like Tagamet (cimetidine) can cause problems if taken for long periods of time.
Stopping or changing the suspected drug may reverse the condition, although this is not always possible with certain chronic medications. A dose adjustment may also help. As always, do not change medication or dosage without first talking to your physician.
Depression and low libido may go hand-in-hand. This can not only cause a lower sex drive, but it may also be the consequence, making a tough situation worse. Furthermore, while antidepressants can effectively treat depression, they can exacerbate problems with sexual desire.
If you are currently taking an antidepressant and experiencing a lower sex drive, you may want to talk to your doctor about lowering your dose. Switching to a different medication, including Wellbutrin (bupropion) or Remeron (mirtazapine) may also help.
Just keep in mind that it can take time for this side effect to go away.
The high levels of pain and fatigue caused by chronic illness can take a toll on your sex drive.9 This can be especially true for the following chronic diseases and conditions:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
When it comes to chronic illness and the loss of sexual function, there is rarely a straight line between cause and treatment. On the one hand, chronic illness is associated with an increased risk of depression. On the other, it can directly interfere with hormonal, neurological, or vascular functions central to the male sex drive.
Moreover, the medications used to treat the chronic condition (such as chemotherapy or cardiovascular drugs) may directly impair the male libido.11 As such, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of the loss of sex drive—and to find a solution. In some cases, multiple doctors may be needed.
Stress and Sleep Disorders Caused low sex drive in men
While stress can impair sexual interest by literally driving you to distraction, its effect on the sex drive is more insidious. Stress triggers the production of cortisol, a hormone that functions rather like a body’s built-in alarm system. Cortisol not only causes the constriction of blood vessels, contributing to ED, it can also cause a precipitous drop in testosterone.
Stress is also linked to insomnia and other sleep abnormalities, which can increase the risk of fatigue and leave you less interested in sex.
Treatments depend on the specific sleep issue and may involve stress management techniques and improved sleep hygiene for insomnia and the use of positive airway pressure to treat OSA.
If the stress is associated with an anxiety disorder, medications may be needed. But be careful, because some anti-anxiety medications (the SSRIs) can lower your libido even more.
There are lifestyle factors that may contribute significantly to low libido in men. These tend to be more readily remedied by changing or stopping the behavior.
Alcohol and drug use: Excessive or chronic drinking can result in reduced testosterone levels.
Too much (or too little) exercise: Frequent and high-intensity exercise is linked to a lower libido.14 Too little exercise can also lead to decreased libido in a variety of ways.
Obesity: Extra weight directly impairs metabolism and hormone function, resulting in significantly reduced total and free testosterone. By contrast, exercise and weight loss not only enhance mood and energy levels but also improve sexual function and self-image.
Smoking: This directly increases the risk of ED and indirectly impairs sexual arousal, according to a 2012 study from the University of Texas Austin.
While the detrimental effects of these behaviors are clear, it is never wise to pin low libido on a single lifestyle factor without first conferring with a doctor to explore all other possible causes.
How to Improve a Low Sex Drive In Men
Improving sex drive typically begins with identifying the underlying cause. For example, if it is largely linked to stress, finding ways to relax and de-stress can help increase the desire for sex.
In some cases, making certain lifestyle changes may help boost your sex drive. Steps you can take on your own include:
- Getting regular physical activity
- Eating a healthy, nutritious diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting sufficient sleep
If a low sex drive is linked to psychological concerns such as anxiety or depression, or caused by issues with your relationship, you should speak to a therapist. Effective treatments are available that can improve your mental well-being. Relationship counseling may also be beneficial.
Q1. What causes hypogonadism?
Ans. It isn’t clear why some people develop hypogonadism. For unknown reasons, a problem with the sex glands or brain affects the body’s production of sex hormones.
Q2. What are the complications of hypogonadism?
Ans. Hypogonadism can cause:
- Anxiety or depression
- Relationship problems
Q3. What causes low sex drive in men?
Ans. Libido issues in men can be caused by stress, low testosterone, substance use, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes and arthritis. Depression, as well as certain antidepressant medications, can also contribute to low libido.
Q4. At what age does a man’s sex drive start to slow down?
Ans. Between the ages of 30 and 40, testosterone levels begin to drop by approximately 1% every year.2 Some men may start to notice a drop in their sex drive in their 30s, but decreases in libido are usually most noticeable after age 40.
Q5. Can men increase their sex drive?
Ans. When low sex drive is connected to a testosterone deficiency, testosterone replacement therapy can help boost libido. Other ways to boost sex drive include managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, getting regular exercise, and following a nutritious diet. Building greater intimacy and communicating with your partner can also be helpful.