A low sex drive can happen to anyone - and it's easy to take for granted the influence a healthy thirst for passion has on one's health and well-being, until it isn't there anymore. The urge for sex can represent so much more than mere physical gratification; it creates excitement, creativity, and the zeal to experiment and discover new possibilities to enjoy.
For many, a healthy sex drive also symbolizes youth, vitality and self-esteem. When a person feels comfortable with their sexuality, it usually bodes well for his or her general outlook on their body, their ability to connect with an intimate partner physically (as well as emotionally), and their overall satisfaction with life. Facing a drastic, or perhaps even mild, dip in sexual function can take a significant toll on personal life, and trying to pinpoint an explanation as to why they aren't so 'interested' can create fear, shame and a lack of fulfillment.
A low, or declining, libido does not necessarily discriminate by age, race, gender or lifestyle. It also has no general regard for whether you're single, in a new sexual relationship, or have been with a partner for a great length of time. There is no single type of person who can be singled out - but there are a variety of factors (psychological and/or physiological) that may explain a lack of desire for sexual contact, or physical response to sexual stimulus.
Knowing the cause may not necessarily solve the dysfunction, but it can alleviate the heavy burden individuals place on themselves when they want to express their sexuality, but can't. Unfortunately, many place blame on themselves for not being able to be sexual, which is especially disconcerting after having been so for many years. Keep in mind that there may be a combination of reasons that may account for a person's low libido, and the following list is only a small representation of the many potential causes.
This can manifest itself so many ways. A person may have a hard time relaxing, or are brought to anger easily, experience moods swings, or are too on-edge to make love. Stress puts a strain on one's physical and emotional well-being, and is one of the major factors that can put a dent in a person's sexual health. Stress can be very difficult to live with, but the good news is that it can be managed through a variety of management techniques, detailed in countless books, videos, courses, etc.
The level of harmony within a primary relationship can make or break sex drive. Healthy relationship dynamics are directly responsible for mutual fulfillment in the bedroom, and when things go awry, a desire for sex goes out the window. Dealing with issues like boredom/monotony, poor communication, mistrust/betrayal, or a lack of intimacy is never easy, but it vital that these problems be dealt with before they become so deeply rooted that a person is alienated from their partner permanently.
Prescription medication can sabotage sex drive for both men and women. Drugs that are commonly linked to a loss of libido include: antidepressants, anti-hypertensive drugs, sleep aids, oral contraceptives, and antihistamines. If a person notices a shift in their desire for sexual contact right around the time of receiving a new or altered prescription, they should speak to their doctor about possible alternatives.
There's nothing more difficult that mustering up the desire to be sexual when you can't stand the way you feel in your own skin. A negative body image and low self-esteem inhibits a person's desire or ability to express sexuality - and can create a lot of stress for their sexual partner as well. Self-acceptance is the foundation to improving a damaged self-image, but it does require that a person work at it in order to truly feel good about themselves again.
Changes in the delicate balance of hormones that regulate sex drive can significantly undermine desire for both men and women.
Male testosterone (known as the hormone of desire) begins to slow down in production around the age of thirty. The drop in this hormone is subtle, decreasing by an average of one to two percent per year, but how quickly levels drop does vary greatly amongst men. Thus, it is possible that a male in his thirties may have the same characteristics associated with dwindling testosterone that his seventy year old counterpart does!
In women, an imbalance of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can have a damaging impact on her sex drive, as well as the functioning of her sexual organs. It becomes more of a challenge for her to become aroused, her vaginal lining thins, and her capacity to 'get wet' is strained. Consequently, pain during intercourse is often experienced. The most dramatic hormonal imbalances occur during menopause and after surgeries like hysterectomies, but can also happen after pregnancy, at certain points during a menstrual cycle, and with the use of certain contraceptives that manipulate hormones – such as the Pill.
Whether it's the aches and pains of everyday life, physiological conditions that limit mobility, or disorders that specifically affect the sexual organs such as Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse) or Vulvodynia (another sexual painful disorder that affects the entrance to the vagina), experiencing physical discomfort to any degree will impact how much a woman wants to be sexual. Not only that, but the distraction created by pain can create so much frustration that some decide to avoid having sex altogether.
A faltering sex drive can be a sign of lack of sleep. It may due to the demands of a busy work schedule, or adjusting to becoming a new parent, but it can also be attributed to insomnia or sleep apnea. Nonetheless, the effects are all the same; being barely able to keep the eyes open, let alone use the bed for anything other than catching up on precious sleep.
Although alcohol decreases social inhibitions, and is perceived as having the effect of boosting one's desire for sex, it is just as possible for it to have the opposite effect. Intoxication, whether it is due to use of alcohol or other recreational drugs, may also have the unfortunate side effect of a man not being able to achieve, or maintain, an erection. Another downer … inebriation can serve as a total turn off for the partner who's making love to them.
Some individuals experience pressure, from themselves or their partners, to perform well sexually - and when they feel they cannot, it causes distress, anxiety and/or fear. Known as performance anxiety, the fear of failure in the bedroom not only reduces a person's ability to enjoy sexual activity, it can create sexual problems like achieving orgasm or erectile dysfunction. It is common to experience this form of anxiety during the early stages of a sexual relationship, mainly because there is so much uncertainty as to what pleases the other person.
A low sex drive is nothing to gloss over. It is usually a sign of physical or emotional stresses - or possibly a combination of the two. However, it can usually be alleviated once correctly identified and dealt with. If you are affected, get practical help from your health professional – don't worry, it is a very common problem and they definitely won't be shocked!
On the other hand if, even after seeking help, it has been determined that a low libido is something you have to live with - there are ways to cope. Many people have been able to learn to live quite contentedly with a lower sex drive, by finding different ways to express intimacy that still reflect love and desire – albeit perhaps not quite so physically, or so often.