Understanding Low Libido
Has it been a while since you wanted to have sex? Do you find it difficult to become aroused or even care about sexual pleasure in the way you once did? You might be dealing with low libido. It impacts people of all genders for a wide variety of reasons. We turned to the experts to help us understand what low libido is, what causes it, and what you can do about it.
What is Low Libido?
Let’s start with an understanding of what low libido is. According to Nicole Arzt, licensed marriage & family therapist, serving on the advisory board for Family Enthusiast, “Low libido refers to a reduced sex drive. It can occur in both men and women, and it can happen at any age, although it is more common in older adults. There are both psychological and physical variables that can cause low libido.”
“Libido can fluctuate, and it’s normal to feel more turned on at certain points than others. However, it might start becoming a problem if it’s impacting the quality of your emotional well-being or your relationship. It’s also problematic if you feel emotionally interested in having sex, but you are physically unable to enjoy it, which can be due to both psychological and physical issues,” states Arzt.
Causes of Low Libido
A lot of factors, physical and mental, impact your desire for sex. Below are a few of the most common reasons, but this isn’t an exhaustive list.
Too Much Stress
Stress is everywhere, and it impacts your life in a lot of ways — including your urge to have sex. According to Robert Thomas, licensed sex therapist and co-founder of Sextopedia, “Excessive stress leads to increased cortisol levels in our bodies that directly affect our desire to get busy between the sheets. By avoiding sex, we are saying no to the release of serotonin and dopamine that occur after having an orgasm. These hormones are known to make us feel happy – that is exactly needed when feeling down.”
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol in moderation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a tipping point. Excessive alcohol consumption might be the reason you don’t feel like getting naked — with your partner or yourself. According to OBGYN Dr. Drai, “Alcohol has been shown to decrease sexual desire and satisfaction.”
Dr. Drai isn’t the only one who advises staying away from too much alcohol. “Drinking too much inhibits testosterone production, and testosterone is critical for libido and physical arousal. Excessive alcohol consumption also decreases pleasurability, the intensity of an orgasm and makes it more difficult to reach an orgasm,“ states Thomas.
Your mental health doesn’t just impact your ability to go to work or get through everyday life. It absolutely impacts your libido, too. Dr. Daniele DonDiego of Your Doctors Online says, “Medical issues such as anxiety or depression often manifest in sexual discomfort, difficulty relaxing or being turned on, and difficulty with orgasm.” Dr. Drai agrees. “Sometimes medication treatments for these conditions can cause sex drive issues as well. Talk to your doctor, and get treated.”
You may have more options than you realize. Maybe you need to take medication or maybe the current medication is the problem. Always talk to your doctor.
Many kinds of medications can mess up your desire for sex or your ability to have an orgasm, especially birth control. “Hormonal birth control has been shown to decrease testosterone in your body. For women, testosterone is made in the ovaries. And testosterone helps you feel aroused,” states Dr. Drai. “Your healthcare provider may be able to switch your birth control to a non-hormonal option.”
In the beginning of your relationship, you wanted all the sex. These days? Not so much. For once, it might not be you — it could be them. A failing, stressful, or bad relationship can absolutely lower your desire for sex. It’s easy to think you don’t want it at all when you might just not want it with your current partner.
Dr. Drai advises, “Fighting with your partner is the quickest way to not wanting to have sex. When you are angry or hurt, sex is the last thing on your mind. If the relationship is worth saving, fix your relationship; go to couples’ therapy.”
What Can You Do About Low Libido?
Because so many factors can cause a decrease in sexual desire, what you need to do to correct it will vary from person to person and situation to situation. Robert Thomas explains, “You need to be honest to yourself and narrow down the potential reasons for low libido. Becoming aware about your stress levels, anxiety, depression, insecurities, and more helps to find out whether low sex drive is driven by emotional factors. Narrowing down these reasons could easily help you determine whether it is time to see a medical professional to address the low libido.”
Low libido is more common than most people realize but it doesn’t have to be permanent. There’s also no shame in talking to your doctor or your therapist about it. Not being sexually aroused can impact your life in a negative way, and it’s worth doing something about.