SEX STUFF

Me Not So Horny

Posted by Joshua Gonzalez on

Me Not So Horny

Been feeling a little low lately? For men, low libido is much more common than you might think. As many as one in five men can experience low sexual desire, so it’s important to know that you’re not alone. If you just read that and you breathed a deep sigh of relief, then please keep reading because there’s more where that came from. 

Low libido is common, but it can be complicated. Society feeds the narrative that men want one thing and one thing only – SEX! For men who just aren’t in the mood, it can lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, sadness and self-loathing. Because of those feelings, many men don’t talk about their libido to their healthcare providers or to their partners. 

Unfortunately, a man who might have no problem discussing other sexual issues like erectile dysfunction, might shudder at the thought of bringing up their levels of desire to their doctor. However, working with your physician to figure out what’s causing your lack of interest in sex is the first step to getting your sex drive back up to healthy levels. The good news is that once low libido is diagnosed, it can be treated. 


What is Low Libido?

Even the most virile young bucks among us may not feel up to doing the deed from time to time, and that’s totally normal. It’s also normal to have a sex drive that’s higher or lower than your partner’s sex drive or to experience a lessening of sexual desire the longer you’ve been with your partner. And last but not least, it’s normal to experience a reduction in libido as we add more candles to our birthday cakes.

What’s not normal is if your low sex drive has lasted for six months or longer and is causing personal distress or causing problems in your relationship. This is the criteria that doctors use for diagnosing a clinical dysfunction. In order to get a correct diagnosis, it’s important for your doctor to know if you’ve experienced this problem your whole life or if your loss of sexual desire has had an abrupt onset. You may also be asked if you’re experiencing a total lack of sexual thoughts and feelings or if it’s just when you’re with your current partner? 

You might find yourself surprised at how many seemingly disparate factors are potentially involved when it comes to your desire to have sex (or lack thereof). When it comes to libido, there can be situational, emotional, physical and psychological issues at play. Everything from the medications you take to your religious upbringing can affect your sex drive. As you’re reading, keep an open mind. The cause of your low libido could be one or a combination of the following factors, or it could be something completely unique to your own personal situation. 


Low T

Let’s start out with one of the more well-known and more common causes of low libido – low testosterone. As men age, they experience decreased testosterone levels. As a quick refresher, testosterone is a hormone that’s made in the testicles in men and in the ovaries in women. Testosterone in men increases significantly during puberty but can start to dip as early as age 30. Normal testosterone levels can vary, but according to guidelines from the American Urological Association (AUA), low testosterone, or “Low T” as it’s often called, is when levels of the hormone fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).

As testosterone decreases, sexual desire is likely to decrease as well. A simple blood test can show whether you have normal or low levels of testosterone. If it is determined that you have low testosterone levels, testosterone replacement therapy may help. Testosterone can be administered orally, intranasally, with injections, through patches or even as slow-release pellets implanted under the skin. 

Testosterone isn’t the only hormone involved in sex drive, though. Elevated prolactin and estradiol levels or hypothyroidism can affect sexual desire. Your doctor will be able to look at the results from your blood test and determine if any of these other hormones are out of whack. 


Overall Health and Wellness

Low libido often does not happen in a vacuum. There are a ton of other health issues that can affect how much or how little you care to get busy. Men with diseases like multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, coronary heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or HIV are all more likely to experience a lower sex drive. 

Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, OCD and eating disorders have also been associated with a low libido. If a man suffers from low self-esteem, has insecurities about his looks or his sexual performance, feels unattractive or thinks that he fails to live up to what society sees as masculine, then he is more likely to report lower sexual desire as well. 

It’s unknown if decreases in sex drive are caused by these conditions, the medicines used to treat them or the psychosocial stressors that often accompany them. What we do know is that as with so many other sexual health and wellness issues, your overall health plays a big part. Simple things like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and eating a balanced and healthy diet can all improve your overall health, which can in turn, improve your sexual health and function.


Medications

If you’ve been diagnosed with a disease, a mental illness or one of many other common health issues, including the ones we just mentioned, then it’s likely that you’ve been prescribed medications to treat your particular condition or conditions. Unfortunately, many of the medications that are commonly prescribed can also contribute to low libido. 

For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders or even chronic pain, you may have been prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). These are some of the most commonly prescribed medications and they are well-known, if not notorious, for lowering sex drive. 

Other lesser-known culprits can include anti-seizure therapies, benzodiazepines, chemotherapies, radiation treatments, opioids, anabolic steroids and finasteride. It doesn’t even have to be a prescription medication. Over-the-counter medications like antihistamines and antifungals can lessen sexual desire. And let’s not forget recreational drugs. Users of marijuana, for example, often report low sex drive as well.

With some exceptions, there is usually more than one drug to treat any given condition. Make sure your doctor knows all of the prescription, over-the-counter and recreational drugs you’re using. It could be that a simple switch to an alternative medication would greatly improve your libido levels.


Relationship Issues

As mentioned earlier, it’s very common for two people in a relationship to have mismatched levels of sexual desire. On top of that, the length of time that you’ve been with your partner can affect libido. We all know that one cute couple who’ve been together for 60 years and seem just as enamored with each other as they were when they first met. We also know that they are far from the norm. 

Understanding the dynamics of your relationship can go a long way to solving problems with sexual desire. While doctors are unlikely to get involved in their patients’ relationships, we can refer you to a couples counselor or a sex therapist. These professionals routinely address sexual issues in relationships and can give both you and your partner tools to help. 


How You Were Raised

Did you grow up in a strict religious household where sex was treated as something shameful? Did you have adult role models who demonstrated unhealthy sexual views or behaviors? Were you verbally, sexually, physically or emotionally abused in any way? When you became sexually active, did you have positive or negative experiences?

You may not think your family, childhood or sexual histories matter when it comes to the sexual challenges you’re having in the present, but they absolutely do. Don’t be afraid to unpack some emotional baggage when you’re talking to your physician. Healthcare professionals know that the sociocultural beliefs and practices that we grew up with can significantly impact us and our health in our adult lives.


Final Thoughts

The moral of the low libido story is this – you do not have to suffer in silence. No one should let embarrassment or shame stand in the way of their sexual health. It doesn’t matter if your low sex drive is caused by hormones, health problems, medications, relationship issues, childhood trauma or all of the above. The first step to a healthy sex drive is the same no matter what the cause may be. So, make that doctor’s appointment today. You’ll be glad you did. 



 

 

References:

https://astroglide.com/blog/not-all-men-are-horn-dogs-an-introduction-to-low-libido-in-men

https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-testosterone

https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/conditions-that-cause-low-libido#low-t

https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/when-a-mans-sex-drive-is-too-low