Decreased libido affects both men and women. It’s normal for our sexual desire to fluctuate over the years. Highs and lows are common in certain circumstances, such as at the beginning or end of a relationship, during or after pregnancy, during menopause, while ill, by certain medications, and when undergoing major life changes.
Unfortunately, there are times when the lack of interest in sex is persistent, but the subject is avoided. If you are concerned about your libido, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your doctor.
What Can Cause Low Libido?
Many factors can affect your desire for intimacy, including physical constraints, emotional well being, lifestyle choices, and your relationship with your partner.
- Chronic illness can significantly affect your libido. Common conditions include arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Some prescription medications can dampen your mood, such as antidepressants, anti-seizure medication, and blood pressure medication.
- While a little alcohol can increase your sex drive, too much alcohol can completely spoil it. Smoking and drugs are also known to hurt sex drive.
- Testosterone levels in men decrease when they get older. When there is a quick drop, it can cause libido issues.
- Fatigue is often the cause of low sexual desire. When you are overworked, caring for kids or aging parents, or don’t get enough sleep, you may be affected.
- During menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels drop which may decrease sex drive and even cause vaginal dryness leading to painful sex.
- During pregnancy or when breastfeeding, women’s hormone levels change. Women are often tired and stressed from caring for the baby. They may experience body image issues. All of this can contribute to a lower libido.
- Anxiety and depression can quickly dampen the mood.
- Both financial and work-related stress affect sex drive.
- Poor body image and low self-esteem make it hard to relax and enjoy sex.
- Relationship issues such as lack of connection, unresolved conflicts and fights, poor communication, and infidelity can hurt libido.
- An unhealthy diet makes you feel sluggish and drains your energy.
Tips to Counter Low Libido
Just focusing on the symptoms of decreased libido will not help treat the underlying problem effectively. It is important to delve a little deeper and pinpoint the causes.
Here are some tips on how to treat low libido issues:
- Persistent sleep deprivation is the primary reason for a loss of sex drive. Make sure you get at least seven hours sleep daily and try to be in bed before 11 pm.
- Exercise regularly and primarily during the day. This will enhance your mood, increase your stamina, improve your body image, and boost your libido.
- Follow a healthy, balanced plant-based diet rich in vegetables, legumes, unrefined whole grains, and seeds. Avoid caffeine, sugar, bread, soda, alcohol, and processed foods.
- Drink enough water during the day. Even slight dehydration – as little as 2% of normal fluid loss – can take a toll on energy levels.
- Talk to your doctor about your chronic medications if you suspect they are affecting your libido. Your doctor may be able to prescribe other options.
- Try to find ways to better cope with your stress and decrease your working hours. Working too hard and too long sets one up for physical and mental exhaustion.
- Communicate with your partner. An open and honest conversation about your needs, likes, and dislikes creates a stronger emotional connection and will set you on the right path to satisfying each other.
- Make time for romance. Set aside time for sexual intercourse or a date, kiss each other goodbye, and say “I love you” more often.
Medications: a Word of Warning
There are many medications on the market that promise to increase libido. Popular medicines for men include Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, and there is a new pill on the market for women, called Addyi. Whether these medicines for men actually increase libido, or whether they only improve erectile function is strongly debated. Addyi is plagued with many side effects and a questionable rate of actually increasing “satisfying sexual experiences” in multiple drug trials.
Be careful before you take any of these drugs to enhance your libido. Discuss it with your doctor first.
Remember that fluctuations in sexual desire are normal, so don’t stress unnecessarily about it. A healthy lifestyle and open communication can often work wonders, and benefit other parts of your relationship as well.
Each person is different and requires different solutions to libido problems. As a family physician practicing in San Francisco since 2005, I concentrate on addressing the root cause of illnesses by combining the latest research in evidence-based medicine with integrative holistic care. By focusing on the whole person in the context of his or her nutrition, sleep, and mental and other lifestyle stressors, the underlying cause of problems can be more easily determined.
Contact our office today if you would like to learn more about how to improve your sex life and define a treatment plan customized just for you.