You won’t hear your friends talk about it on the golf course or while you’re watching the game, but around one in five men have a low sex drive.
So if you’ve noticed a change in your libido and are concerned about it, it may be time to ask for help.
You may not want to tell your friends, but you should tell your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your reduced sex drive and provide treatment and support to restore your sexual health and desire.
You may wonder when to be concerned about a low sex drive. But, first, let’s explore the causes of libido loss and their treatments.
What is a low sex drive?
First, let’s make one thing clear. There is no right or wrong level of sexual desire. Everyone has their own sex drive, and the stereotype of men always being up for it is, quite frankly, damaging.
Clinically, a low sex drive is marked by a decrease in your normal libido.
However, it’s also important to note that your sex drive fluctuates naturally, depending on your health and what’s going on in your life.
For example, if you’re going through a stressful time at work or catch a seasonal cold, your sex drive will likely be lower than usual for a short time.
A low sex drive is a problem when it interferes with your life, relationships, or other aspects of your wellness.
A long-lasting decrease in libido can also be a sign of another health issue. In fact, many problems can cause a low sex drive.
What causes libido loss?
A wide range of physical, mental, and emotional health issues can cause libido loss. Ten of the more common causes of libido loss include:
Testosterone is the hormone that regulates your sexual function and other health features such as your muscle mass, bone density, and red blood cell production.
It also triggers the maturation of your male sex characteristics during puberty.
Your testosterone levels naturally decline with age.
However, some men experience a more severe or sudden decline in testosterone that causes libido loss as well as other symptoms, including:
- Weight gain
- Muscle mass loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced concentration and memory
A simple internet search may provide dozens of “treatments” for low testosterone. However, you should consult your trusted urologist and have the appropriate blood tests to diagnose low testosterone.
Many common medications can interfere with your sex drive, including blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, corticosteroids, antidepressants, and cimetidine (a heartburn/GERD medicine).
Additionally, chemotherapy, radiation, opioids, and anabolic steroids can contribute to libido loss.
Sexual dysfunction is more often a cause of libido loss in women. However, men may also experience a low sex drive if they have ejaculation issues or erectile dysfunction.
Men may not want to talk to anyone, including their doctors, about sexual dysfunction.
Nonetheless, if you experience ED or ejaculation issues, talking to your doctor is the best way to find out what’s causing your problem and get appropriate treatment.
Libido loss is a common symptom of depression.
Depression also causes intense and long-lasting feelings of sadness, lost interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy, and a sense of hopelessness — all of which can affect your sex drive.
As mentioned, some antidepressants can reduce your sex drive.
Many chronic illnesses can affect your sperm count and libido. For example, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity can cause libido loss.
In addition, cancer and chronic heart, kidney, liver, and lung failure can cause a lowered sex drive.
Alcohol and drug use
Excessive alcohol use (more than 14 mixed drinks in a week) has been linked to reduced testosterone production and a lower sex drive.
Similarly, tobacco, marijuana, and illicit drugs can interfere with your hormone health and sex drive.
Too little or too much exercise
Sufficient exercise can lower your risk of chronic health issues such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, all of which are associated with libido loss.
Additionally, exercise can lower your cortisol levels and increase your endorphins, reducing stress and, boosting your mood, enhancing your sex drive.
Some studies show a correlation between over-exercise and reduced sex drive. Over exercise included both endurance training and very high-intensity workouts.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that training for a marathon or participating in CrossFit will kill your sex drive.
If you have concerns about your physical training regimen and sexual health, talk to your doctor.
As mentioned, stress is a common cause of short-term libido loss.
However, chronic stress is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem. Around half of American adults have such severe stress that it has negatively affected their behavior.
Chronic stress also increases your cortisol levels, which interferes with the rest of your endocrine system, including testosterone production.
If you’re feeling bad about yourself, you’re less likely to want to pursue sexual encounters. Low self-esteem interferes with your confidence and can lead to sexual performance anxiety.
Reduced self-esteem may also contribute to depression or drug/alcohol abuse, which are also linked to a low sex drive.
A troubled relationship, doubts, and worries can lower your desire for your partner. It’s not uncommon for overfamiliarity to develop in a long-term relationship or for unresolved conflict to affect sex drive.
If your libido wanes, you may want to assess your relationship and how you feel toward your partner.
What should I do if I have a low sex drive?
You don’t need to panic if you have a lower sex drive than normal for a short period, especially if you’re under the weather or experiencing acute stress.
However, if your lower-than-normal-for-you sex drive persists or doesn’t have an apparent short-term cause, follow these steps:
Make an appointment with your urologist
During your consultation, you can explain your symptoms or changes in your sex drive and review your medical history and current health and wellness.
Your doctor may perform a physical exam to check for signs of illness that could affect your sex drive. They also ask screening questions to evaluate your mental and emotional well-being.
Have the recommended tests
Your doctor may order various lab tests to measure your testosterone levels and screen for other diseases that can contribute to libido loss or erectile dysfunction.
Follow your doctor’s advice
Your doctor provides a personalized treatment plan after completing an exam and testing. Then, they select treatments and therapies to address the specific underlying cause of your libido loss.
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What are the common treatments for libido loss?
The team at Urology of Greater Atlanta offers various treatments for libido loss, including:
Testosterone replacement therapy
Testosterone replacement therapy restores your testosterone levels with synthetic testosterone.
The team offers different types of testosterone replacement therapy, including:
- Topical gels, creams, and patches
- Oral medicines
- Nasal gels
- Testosterone injections
- Testosterone pellets
Your physician discusses your options with you to identify the best form of hormone therapy to address your needs and fit your lifestyle.
When you begin hormone therapy, you’ll have regular follow-ups and blood work to ensure your treatment is working and adjust as necessary to reach the appropriate hormone levels.
Once your hormones return to normal and stabilize, you will have quarterly or semi-annual appointments for your physician to measure your hormone levels and adjust your testosterone therapy as needed to maintain your health and wellness.
If medication is the root cause of your libido loss, you and your doctor can discuss alternatives.
For example, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Cymbalta® and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac® and Zoloft® can cause libido loss.
You could consider trying a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NRDI) such as Wellbutrin®, which is less likely to interfere with your sex drive.
Do not change or stop taking any medications without consulting with your physician.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can often enhance your overall wellness and sex drive.
For example, moderate daily exercise, such as a brisk 30-minute walk or shooting hoops with your friends, can not only boost your mood but help with weight loss.
If, like nearly three-quarters of American adults, you’re overweight or obese, losing just 5-10% of your weight can improve multiple body functions, including hormone production.
You’ll also have more energy and feel more confident about yourself.
When it comes to weight loss and managing chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, you must take control of your diet.
Reducing the amount of sugar, salt, fat, and processed foods you consume has multiple health benefits that can address the underlying health issues causing a low sex drive.
In addition, cutting down your alcohol consumption and eliminating tobacco and drugs also enhances your health with the added benefit of sex drive restoration.
Your physician may suggest professional counseling if your libido loss is due to depression, anxiety, stress, or relationship issues.
Counseling can help you identify and address problematic thoughts and behaviors that can interfere with your sexual health and overall wellness.
In addition, couples counseling can help you and your partner reconnect, address any unresolved conflict, and strengthen your intimate connection.
Many issues can cause a reduced sex drive. If you are troubled by a persistent loss of libido, make an appointment with the physicians at Urology of Greater Atlanta by calling the practice or requesting an appointment online.
The team offers compassionate and confidential care to restore your overall health and sex drive.