It’s often linked to relationship issues, stress or tiredness, but can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, such as reduced hormone levels.
Everybody’s sex drive different accordingly– there’s nothing like a “normal” libido. But if you find your lack of desire for sex distressing or it’s affecting your relationship, it’s a good idea to get help.
This page explains some common causes of a low libido.
CAUSES OF A LOW LIBIDO
- Relationship problems
- Sexual problems
- Stress, anxiety and exhaustion
- Getting older and the menopause
- Pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding
- Underlying health problems
- Medication and contraception
- Alcohol and drugs
- Relationship issues
One of the first things to consider is whether you’re happy in your relationship. Do you have any doubts or worries that could be behind your loss of sexual desire?
A low libido can be the result of:
- being in a long-term relationship and becoming overfamiliar with your partner
- loss of sexual attraction
- unresolved conflict and frequent arguments
- poor communication
- difficulty trusting each other
- physical sexual problems
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Sexual problems is another important factor to consider whether the problem is a physical issue that makes sex difficult or unfulfilling.
For example, a low sex drive can be the result of:
- Problems when ejaculating
- Erectile dysfunction
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful sex
- Inability to orgasm
- Involuntary tightening of the vagina (vaginismus)
Stress, anxiety and exhaustion can be all-consuming and have a major impact on your happiness, including your sex drive.
When you have the feeling of constant tiredness, stress or anxiety, you may need to make some lifestyle changes.
Depression is very different from simply feeling unhappy, miserable or fed up for a short while. This is a very serious illness that interferes with all aspects of your life, including your sex life.
In addition to low libido, signs of depression can include:
- feelings of extreme sadness that don’t go away
- feeling low or hopeless
- losing interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy
Low sexual drive can also be a side effect of antidepressants or other drugs.
Getting older and the menopause
A reduced sex drive isn’t an inevitable part of ageing, but it’s something many men and women experience as they get older.
There can be many reasons for this, including:
- falling levels of sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) just before, during and after the menopause in women
- falling levels of sex hormones (testosterone) in men
- age-related health problems, including mobility problems
- side effects of medication
There are treatments to increase hormone levels if low levels are causing problems, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with or without testosterone treatment for women going through the menopause.
Pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding
Loss of sex drive is common during pregnancy, after giving birth and while breastfeeding.
This can be because of:
- changes in hormone levels
- changes to your body and issues with your body image
- painful sex caused by an injury, such as a cut or tear, during childbirth
- changed priorities, such as focusing on looking after your baby
These issues may improve over time
Underlying health problems
Some long-term medical condition can affect your sex drive. This may be a result of the physical and emotional strain these conditions can cause, or it may be a side effect of treatment.
Lets use these examples, a low libido can be associated with:
- heart disease
- an underactive thyroid – where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones
- major surgery – for example, surgery to remove the ovaries and womb in women
Medication and contraception
Certain medicines can sometimes cause low libido, including:
- medication for high blood pressure
- many types of antidepressant medication
- medications for fits (seizures), such as topiramate
- medications called antipsychotics, such as haloperidol
- medication for an enlarged prostate, such as finasteride
- medication for prostate cancer, such as cyproterone
- hormonal contraception, such as the combined hormonal contraception (pill, patch or ring), the progestogen-only pill, the contraceptive implant and the contraceptive injection
Read the leaflet that often comes with your medicine very well to understand if low libido is listed as a possible side effect.
Alcohol and drugs
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period can reduce your sex drive, so it’s a good idea not to drink too much.
Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 alcohol units a week on a regular basis.
Read some tips on cutting down on alcohol and find out where to get support for a drinking problem if you think you need it.
Drug abuse is also linked to a loss of sex drive.
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