Is it all about desire?
Typically, we tend to think of desire as an emotion, emerging from our mental status, similar to friendship or outrage or pain or shock or bliss. But this is probably not the case. Many scientists and psychologists now believe that desire is, in fact, a bodily urge, more analogous to hunger or the blood’s need for oxygen. For anyone who has been annoyingly in love, driven to the edge of despair by an urgent desire for another, this probably doesn’t seem so undoubtful.
Libido is a person’s overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. Libido is influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors. It varies dramatically from one person to the other. It also varies depending on a person’s preferences and life circumstances. Libido can be affected by medical conditions, hormone levels, medications, lifestyle, and relationship problems. Many new couples will go through an early period of having a lot of sex that slows down over time. On the other hand, a busy life can leave some people too tired or preoccupied to even think about sex.
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, having low libido for a long period may cause concern for some people. It can sometimes be an indicator of an underlying health condition.
What Causes Low Sex Drive in Men?
It’s natural for men to notice a gradual decrease in sex drive (libido) as they age. The degree of this decline varies, but most men maintain at least some amount of sexual interest into their 60s and 70s. Sometimes, loss of sex drive is related to an underlying condition. Often, depression, stress, alcoholism, illicit drug use, and fatigue can be factored into the loss of sex drive in men. Medical conditions and the side effects of some medications can reduce testosterone levels which may lead to low libido. There are also several other reasons for a lessened sex drive, including:
- Performance anxiety – Premature ejaculation or painful sex can make a person avoid sex out of fear that it could happen again.
- Fatigue – Feeling too tired for sex is common.
- Low testosterone – Testosterone is responsible for building muscles and bone mass, and for stimulating sperm production. Your testosterone levels also factor into your sex drive.
- Lack of time and privacy – The demands of work and home life may not leave enough time for intimacy and sex.
- Familiarity – A couple’s desire for sex tends to lessen over time.
- Sexual incompatibility – Sexual desire can be affected if a person constantly wants more sex than their partner or wants a type of sexual activity that their partner is not comfortable with.
- Sexual turn-offs – Sexual attraction to your partner may lessen if there are changes in their physical appearance, such as excessive weight gain.
- Depression – Depression can cause tiredness, lack of motivation, feeling sad, and withdrawal from activities, including sex.
- Stress – Researchers have found stress hormones can lessen sexual desire and response.
- Exercise – Either too much or too little can cause a loss of sex drive.
- Traumatic experience – Experiences of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or rape, can lessen sexual desire.
- Alcohol – Heavy alcohol drinking, or more than 14 mixed drinks in a week, has also been linked to a decrease in testosterone production. Over time, excessive amounts of alcohol can reduce your sex drive.
- Aging – In your older years, it may take longer to have orgasms, ejaculate, and become aroused. Your erections may not be as hard, and it may take longer for your penis to become erect.
How do you know if you have a problem with a low sex drive?
Low sex drive or low libido doesn’t usually happen expectedly. It can be a gradual process. The frequency of sexual activity is not the best way to measure sexual interest, since so many circumstances can get in the way. But if you are in a committed relationship and having sex less often than normal about once a week, you might ask yourself whether you are happy with things as they are. If you’re not happy about your loss of libido, researchers agree that it is best to grapple with these issues before they become entrenched. To help identify the early warning signs, see whether you answer the following questions true or false:
- Touching takes place only in the bedroom.
- Sex does not give you feelings of connection and sharing.
- One of you is always the initiator and the other feels pressured.
- You no longer look forward to sex.
- Sex is mechanical and routine.
- You seldom have sexual thoughts or fantasies about your spouse.
- You have sex once or twice a month at most.
If most of the answer is true, you may be on your way to losing sexual desire.
How is it Treated?
If you look forward to sex, and feel good about it before, during, and after, that is the true measure of whether your libido is healthy. Depending on the cause, possible managements include:
- Healthier lifestyle choices – Improve your diet and get regular exercise and enough sleep. Also, cut down on the alcohol and reduce stress.
- Counseling – A therapist can help get your sex drive back in gear. It can help with the psychological effects of your symptoms, which can affect your mood, lead to frustration, and create relationship tension.
- Build Anticipation to fight the loss of libido – Get your partner a little gift, take him or her out on a dinner or do anything that will build anticipation in giving pleasure to each other.
- Use Imagination – Exploring fantasies is now regarded by marriage therapists as a good thing. If you want your partner to share in the joy, you may want to explore further some of the newer erotic literature and films that include female fantasies as well as male.
- Keep Expectations Real – It may take the pressure off performance anxiety to bear in mind that not every sexual encounter has to be perfect.
- Focus on the Whole Body to Boost Libido – For men, sexuality tends to be focused disproportionately on the genitals. Focusing on the other erogenous zones can ease performance pressure and add new pleasure. Tease and touch and take your time.
- Talk About What You Want to Increase Libido – Talking is hard in the best of times, but even harder if you have been avoiding sex together and tension is high. So, if you can’t talk, get one of the dozens of excellent sex books out there and point to a chapter. Cozy up and read it together. Look at the pictures, laugh, and let your partner know you’re open to making things better between you.
- Go out with Friends Together – Desire feeds on newness. When you go out to a dinner party with other people, you get the chance to see your partner in a fresh light. You remember how interesting and exciting they are, and they get to see you shine as well. You remember why you were attracted to each other in the first place.
If you are feeling worried about having a low sex drive, thankfully, there are many ways to overcome this obstacle in the bedroom. It helps to pay attention not just to your partner but to your own body as well, and making changes not just in your sex life but in your personal life as a whole can make all the difference too. If you’d like to learn more about how our licensed physicians can help you beat ED for good, click here to learn more.