What Causes Low Libido in Men
What is libido? What causes it to be low in men? What does a loss of libido mean? Libido is a man’s desire for sex. Libido varies among men and the level changes as men age. A decreased level of libido is a reduction in sex drive. Libido is influenced by a variety of factors including psychological and physical factors, as well as lifestyle factors. It is important to note that low sex drive in men is different from erectile dysfunction (ED), which is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. A man can have either one or the other — or both.
Anxiety issues and relationship problems can affect sex drive. In addition traumatic childhood sexual experiences and/or learned suppression of sexual thoughts play a role in libido.
Depression can also be a contributing factor. Depression can not only cause a lower sex drive, but it may also be a consequence of it, 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 or switching to a different medication.
Hormone levels are a contributing factor with libido. Testosterone is an important sex hormone. This hormone also helps maintain sex drive and sperm production. Testosterone levels peak during adolescence and early adulthood, and drop with age—declining about 1% to 2% a year beginning around age 30. If levels drop below a certain point, you may have low testosterone. Low testerone is common in older men, but it can occur in younger men as well. For younger men, a drop in testosterone levels can be caused by chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
High levels of pain and fatigue due to chronic illness can take a toll on your sex drive. This can be especially true for these health conditions: arthritis, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, lyme disease, mold toxicity, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease, and kidney failure. 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.
Stress can lower sexual interest. Stress triggers the production of cortisol, a hormone that functions like a built-in alarm system. Cortisol not only causes the constriction of blood vessels, contributing to erectile dysfunction, but it can also cause a 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.
Alcohol and recreational drug use – excessive and/or chronic use of either can result in low testosterone.
Exercise – too little or too much – either can lead to a decrease in libido.
Obesity – Extra weight directly affects metabolism and hormone function, resulting in significantly reduced total and free testosterone. Exercise and weight loss can enhance mood and energy levels and thereby improve sexual function and self-image.
Age is a factor because as men age their libido decreases naturally. The degree of this decline varies. Most men maintain at least some amount of sexual interest into their 60s and 70s. But some lose interest in sex completely.
Certain commonly prescribed medications may cause low sex drive in men. These may include entire classes of drugs that can affect a man’s sex drive to varying degrees. The classes of drugs include Anticonvulsants, antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Beta-blockers, benzodiazepines, and Statins. Talking to your doctor about stopping or changing the drug or the dosage is recommended.
If your sex drive is not what you want it to be, then consider looking at treatment options. But, first identify the underlying causes. Individual or couples counseling can help with psychological factors, as well as speaking to a mental health professional. Testing of testosterone levels is important as well. Supplementation of testosterone is an option if blood levels test low but must be discussed in detail with your doctor as there are potential side effects. Stopping or changing lifestyle factors would be helpful also.
No matter what, avoid blaming yourself or your partner and seek help. Try to remind yourself that the loss of sexual desire is not the same thing as the loss of a desire for intimacy. Even when struggling with sexual dysfunction, make every effort to connect with your partner emotionally AND physically. By doing so, you can forge a closer bond and may even end up strengthening your relationship.
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