There is no such thing as a 'normal sex drive (libido)', but if you feel like your sex drive is low then that's not normal to you.
Figure out what your low libido means and the steps you can take to feel like comfortable with your sex drive again.
This is a difficult question to answer. Whether you have a low sex drive or not could depend on number of things:
Your base sex drive – it's normal for this to be lower than some other people you know and doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong
Whether you think about sex less – you may be preoccupied or become relatively less interested or motivated by sex
Whether you're less interested in having sex – you could still get aroused but you're less interested in sex itself. This could be generally or with a specific person
How are low sex drive and sexual dysfunction different? – low sex drive is the lack of desire to have sex. Sexual dysfunction doesn't necessarily mean you don't want to have sex, it just means you have trouble actually having sex itself.
What can cause low sex drive? – a low sex drive can be caused by a number of factors and conditions which may include:
Perhaps the first thing to consider is whether you are happy in your relationship?
Are there any worries about the relationship which may be affecting your sexual desire with your partner?
Are there physical sexual issues?
Stress and tiredness – feeling stressed or tired can affect your wellbeing including your sex drive
Depression is a serious condition which affects many aspects of an individual’s life including their sexual desire
Symptoms can include a prolonged feeling of severe sadness, feeling down and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Sexual issues – issues such as erectile dysfunction, inability to orgasm or painful sex can all contribute to a lack of sex drive
Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypothyroidism can be contributing factors
Medication such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, the contraceptive pill and chemotherapy
Alcohol or drug abuse – excessively drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs over a long period of time
Changes in hormones can affect sexual desires
Injuries sustained from childbirth such as rips and tears can make sex painful
Wanting to focus more on looking after a baby
Menopause and increasing age
Getting older can affect our sex drive as sex hormone levels decrease
Perceptions of body image
More health problems or medication
Don't be misled by the media – common misrepresentations of sex drive in the film and TV can also affect what we think of as 'normal'. These unrealistic depictions can make it seem like our own sex drives are low
Don't just pass it off as 'being tired' – even though having some symptoms which may indicate a decreased desire for sex can be common during times of stress or tiredness, if the problem persists or is causing some distress, you should visit your GP for advice.
Although erectile dysfunction in men and low sex drive can be linked, not getting erections doesn't mean you definitely have low sex drive.
Sexual dysfunctions are a different issue – if you can't get erections when you want to have sex this is something that you might be able to get treatment for. Erectile dysfunction treatments won't raise your libido but they will make it easier to get an erection when you're aroused.
Medications for erectile dysfunction – there are medications which can also help to moderate erections problems. The medications can include:
How do they work? – they work by increasing the blood flow to the penis. This allows an erection to be sustained for a temporary period of time. However, a consultation with a doctor or online doctor service is needed before you start one of these medication programmes to make sure it's right for you.
What else can I do? – lifestyle changes can also help in cases of ED too. Changes that can help to maintain an erection include:
Reducing alcohol consumption
Weight loss if you are overweight
Getting regular exercise
You can also check with your GP about you current medications or other health problems that might be causing your erectile dysfunction.
Not itself, but it can have negative consequences – developing a low sex drive can be worrying but it is common for men and women to experience it at some stage in their lives. Generally, a low sex drive is nothing to be distressed about but it can lead to further complications such as mental health and relationship issues. Therefore, it is good to seek advice from a healthcare professional.
As a sign of other health conditions – mentioned above, low sex drive can be cause by some other health conditions. These can include diabetes, heart disease, or hypothyroidism. So low sex drive can be a symptom of these conditions and a sign that you should get assessed for them from a doctor.
As a sign of depression – issues such as depression can be major factors which contribute to a low sex drive and need to be addressed by a GP. Diagnosis and subsequent treatment of underlying conditions can reduce the symptoms affecting the individual’s everyday lifestyle including a lack of sexual desire.
Medical treatments – normal treatment for low sex drive is sex therapy. Your GP can refer you if they think it's right for you. There are medications licensed to treat low sex drive and pills like Viagra are only for men with erection difficulties.
Lifestyle changes can help – increasing your sex drive can be positively affected by a number of factors. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, giving up recreational drugs, cutting down alcohol consumption and increasing exercise levels can be positive steps to increase your sex drive.
De-stress – if there is an aspect of your life which is causing prolonged stress, this can be having a negative effect on your sexual appetite. Factors such as work or home life can be examples. If there is a particular aspect of your life which is causing you great stress it is good to identify it and take steps to de-stress.
Natural aphrodisiacs aren't reliable – these have often been used throughout history as a way of increasing sex drives and overcoming symptoms of conditions such as ED. However, a review carried out in 2010 showed that there is little evidence to suggest that natural aphrodisiacs are a good way of improving sexual desire or performance for both men and women.
'Sex pills' – be careful about buying pills online advertised to increase your sex drive. At best pills like this are a waste of money, at worst they could contain substances harmful to your health as they aren't properly regulated.
Not necessarily – low sex drive does not mean that you definite have relationship problems or that you no longer find your partner attractive. Although it's a possibilty, it's important not to jump to conclusions.
How can I tell if my relationship is a factor? – your low sex drive might be specific to your relationship if:
You feel normal sexual desire when not with your partner – such as alone or with people other than your partner
You feel low sexual desire when attempting sex with your partner
Can I increase my sex drive towards my partner? – talking through your concerns with your partner may help to identify the issues which are affecting your relationship. If you are unhappy with them or the relationship this may stop you feeling arousal towards them.
Montgomery, K. (2008). Sexual Desire Disorders. Psychiatry; 5: 50-55.
Shamloul, R. (2010). Natural Aphrodisiacs. The Journal of Sexual Medicine; 7(1): 39-49.
Simon, J. A. (2010). Low sexual desire — is it all in her head? Pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Postgraduate Medicine; 122(6): 128-136.
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