Sexual Health

Low Libido: Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Treatment

Sexual problems are common in both men and women. There is often an emphasis on erectile dysfunction among the male population.

While this is a particular problem, other sexual dysfunction issues can also be present in the male body. Low sex drive in men is one concern that needs more attention.

A low libido will cause a man to become less interested in sex. This could also have an impact on their erectile function and ultimately cause problems with the man’s confidence in the bedroom.

Understanding why sexual problems like low libido can be present in men is important. This helps the man recognize issues in their own life. These issues can range from mental health disorders to physical problems.

This post explores why men may experience a low sex drive. We also consider what it means for a man to have a low sex drive. Additionally, we also discuss ways to boost libido and treat this problem.

What is low libido?

A low sex drive is a term that is used to describe a decline in female or male libido.

Essentially, libido refers to how much a person desires to have sex. When a person has a high libido, it means the person is easily sexually stimulated.

They are also more likely to initiate sexual intercourse. Additionally, a person with a high libido will generally not have much of a problem performing well in the bedroom.

A low libido, on the other hand, is when a person does not have the desire to participate in sexual intercourse. This is a rather common problem among both men and women. The condition is often referred to as a hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

A low sex drive is found more commonly in the female population. This, however, does not mean men cannot suffer from the condition too.

In one journal entry1, researchers looked at 52 studies to determine the prevalence of some sexual issues among the general population. It was found that up to 3% of all men may experience a low sex drive.

Among male patients, low libido is often accompanied by other sexual problems. Erectile dysfunction is particularly common in men with low libido.

The connection between these two conditions goes both ways. Men with a low sex drive may experience erectile difficulties. On the other hand, men with erectile dysfunction may find that they are often not in the mood for sex.

Low testosterone

Testosterone reaches a peak during the 20s. Once a man turns 30, testosterone production will gradually start to decline a little bit each year.

The decline is generally too insignificant for any severe symptoms to develop. In some cases, however, men experience a decrease of testosterone at an accelerated rate. This can be concerning and affect their health and well-being.

Some signs may signal the presence of low testosterone (primary hypogonadism).

When your testosterone levels decrease, your desire for sex also decreases. Decreasing testosterone is a normal part of aging. However, a drastic drop in testosterone can lead to decreased libido.

What Are The Symptoms?

There are several signs that testosterone levels may be low:

  • A lack of sexual desire

  • Men tend to experience insomnia and other types of sleep disturbances if their testosterone levels are low.

  • There may also be changes in their physical appearance. A lot of men will experience an increase in the amount of fat in their bodies.

  • Muscle mass, on the other hand, will be on the decline2.

  • Depression

The impact that a low sex drive can have on a person’s life in the bedroom can lead to mental problems too. A lot of people with low libido tend to experience performance anxiety in the bedroom.

There can sometimes be signs of depression, as well. Just as low libido can contribute to depression, however, so can a low level of testosterone. These factors do need to be taken into account when assessing a man with a lack of sexual desire.

What causes a low libido?

1) Lifestyle

Smoking can cause damage to the blood vessels, which can reduce sexual desire and affect sexual functions in the long run.

This is because smoking cigarettes can release a lot of harmful substances into to body, which can cause a lot of harmful changes.

A sedentary lifestyle and bad diets can put you at risk of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, which can damage blood vessels around the penis and some key areas, which can result in erectile dysfunction and reduced libido.

2) Disease and health issues

Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, and cancer can affect sexual desire. Diabetes can cause damages to blood vessels in the penis, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.

This can affect a man’s sexual desire negatively psychologically. Cancer can affect the hormonal glands which control sexual desire.

For example, a tumor can affect the pituitary gland or the prostate and lead to reduced secretion of testosterone. This can lead to reduced sexual desire.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), a condition that results in the uncontrollable urge to move your legs, can also increase the risk of developing erectile dysfunction.  A study found that men with RLS are at higher risk for developing erectile dysfunction (ED) than those without RLS.

3) Fatigue

Remember when you first got married? You probably enjoyed a lot of sex, but when the kids came in, with the bills and every other thing, you may just realize that you have suddenly lost interest in sex.

This may be because of fatigue. Taking care of the kids, handling the bills, and doing a whole lot of stuff can take its toll.

This is worse if you do not get enough sleep. Fatigue, especially when worsened by sleep apnea, can cause reduced sexual desire. A tired person wants just one thing – and that is to get some rest, nothing else.

4) Hormonal issues

This is a pathological issue where sex hormones that control your sexual drive go out of whack. A critical hormone in men that control sexual drive is testosterone. According to some studies, testosterone, and estrogen also control sexual drive in women.

A review was done by Ahmed AlAwlaqi on the roles of hormones in sexual disorders. Low levels of testosterone can lead to reduced sexual desire in men. Two other important hormones are dopamine and prolactin. While prolactin can cause reduced libido, dopamine can increase libido.

5) Mental health

Some mental issues like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia can cause reduced libido. In a review by Keith A. Montgomery and his team, they highlighted that at times in depression, it is difficult to tell whether it is the treatment or the disorder itself that is causing the reduced libido.

However, the review noted that people suffering from depression and Schizophrenia tend to have reduced libido even before treatment. Some medications used to treat depression can cause reduced sexual performance.

6) Medications

Taking certain medications can lower testosterone levels, which in turn may lead to low libido.

For example, blood pressure medications such as ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers may prevent ejaculation and erections.

Other medications that can lower testosterone levels include:

  • chemotherapy or radiation treatments

  • hormone treatment

  • corticosteroids

  • opioid pain relievers, such as morphine 

  •  ketoconazole

  • cimetidine 

  • anabolic steroids, which may be used by athletes to increase muscle mass

  • certain antidepressants

One other cause of reduced libido can be if you have had some surgery that affects your testosterone or dopamine level.

For example, castration or removal of your thyroid gland. If you find that you may have a reduced libido, it is not advisable to start popping pills. You may want to talk with your doctor to find out the cause.

If a social or psychiatric problem causes it, then psychotherapy, which involves couples’ therapy, can be used to treat your low libido.

If the cause is more of a hormone imbalance, then your doctor may decide to give you hormonal supplementation like testosterone supplementation or other useful medications.

How Can You Prevent A Low Sex Drive?

When looking at ways to naturally improve erectile function in men, more sex is often advised. The same strategy applies to those men who are struggling with low libido.

Having sex more often may help to yield an improvement in sex drive. This makes for one of the best preventative strategies too. If a man participates in sex with their partner frequently, they may be able to maintain their sex drive.

Sex has other benefits too. It may be beneficial for the male prostate – that’s just one example.

Apart from more sex, other strategies could also help to prevent a low sex drive. The man’s general health needs to be considered, of course. If there are medical problems that may cause low libido, these need to be addressed.

Similar medical problems may affect men in terms of their erectile function. Thus, by understanding how to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction, it may be possible to prevent a low libido too.

It is also essential for men to consider the possible causes of low sex drive. The man should consider if any of these factors apply to their own life. If so, taking action now may help to prevent longer-term disappointment.

Men who are starting to recognize signs of low testosterone may also decide to take appropriate action. Certain remedies can help to restore testosterone production. When these are taken early on, the man might be able to prevent the development of low libido.

Other strategies that men should also consider to help them reduce their risk of a low sex drive:

  • Sleep deprivation is known to have a serious effect on mental health and sexual performance. Studies have noted a connection between being deprived of sleep and the development of sexual dysfunctions3. People who are sleep deprived need to try and improve their sleep. This should be done before they start to experience sexual side-effects. Getting to bed earlier is an effective strategy. Certain natural products may help to calm the mind.

  • People often ask can exercise improve your sex life. The short answer is yes. There are various aspects of sex that exercise may be able to improve. This can also be a preventative strategy. Implement a daily exercise routine, and the risk of low libido may decrease. Exercise is also important for maintaining hormone levels in the body.

  • Diet can have an impact on sexual function too. The right diet may even help to boost sexual desire. If a diet is not balanced, it could increase the risk of a low sex drive. Implementing a diet that gives the body essential nutrients while avoiding unhealthy foods may prevent a decrease in libido.

  • Hydration and energy go hand-in-hand. Being even just slightly dehydrated can lead to poor energy levels. This means a person may suffer in the bedroom. Drinking enough water could help to reduce the chances that the person will experience low libido.

How Can You Treat A Low Sex Drive?

When a low sex drive is something a person already suffers from, then treatment needs to be considered. There are various treatments available at the moment. Some treatments involve the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Others are more natural approaches to improving a low sex drive.

A doctor will have to examine a patient first. The doctor will ask the patient about the symptoms they experience. The patient should not only talk about low libido. They should also mention any accompanying symptoms and conditions. This would include erectile dysfunction, as well.

When a doctor knows more about the patient, they may advise for some tests to be taken. These tests will help the doctor better understand the underlying cause. Identifying a cause behind a low sex drive offers the doctor an opportunity to treat the condition more effectively.

Men who experience a low level of testosterone may need a specific treatment. Testosterone therapy may be provided. This is a synthetic version of testosterone that is placed into the patient’s body. It helps to increase the bioavailable testosterone in the body. In turn, the use of this treatment could help to restore a normal level of libido.

Other drugs may be used too. Certain drugs for ED may be prescribed if the patient has erectile problems too. A product like Viagra is rather common in these situations.

Sex therapy effective strategy for increasing low libido. Individual counseling can help address negative views about sex, self-esteem, and secondary causes of low libidos, such as depression and anxiety.

Relationship counseling can help some people work through factors affecting their sexual desire. One 2014 study found that just four sessions of mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy in a group setting improved sexual desire, sexual arousal, and libido in women.

Conclusion

A low sex drive can be a disastrous problem in both men and women. Male patients with sexual issues and erectile dysfunction often complain about this issue too. When a person’s libido declines, they become less interested in sex.

Since the brain and overall mental health seems to play a role in sexual performance, a decline in libido may cause problems with erectile function and lead to tension in the man’s relationship.

An understanding of why a person might experience a decreased sex drive is really the first step to identifying why a man suffers from low libido. This would also yield an opportunity to determine which treatments and prevention strategies might offer more effective results.

Sources

  1. Kovac JR, Labbate C, Ramasamy R, Tang D, Lipshultz LI. Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction. Andrologia. 2015;47(10):1087–1092. doi:10.1111/and.12393
  2. Montgomery KA. Sexual desire disorders. Psychiatry (Edgmont). ;5(6):50–55.
  3. AlAwlaqi A, Amor H, Hammadeh ME. Role of hormones in hypoactive sexual desire disorder and current treatment. J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc. 2017;18(4):210–218. doi:10.4274/jtgga.2017.0071
  4. Zarei F, Yousofvand N, Khazaei M, Ghanbari A. Effect of exogenous testosterone, finasteride, and castration on serum level of thyroxin. Iran Biomed J. 2013;17(4):221–224. doi:10.6091/ibj.1234.2013

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