So what is a normal sex drive? Surely this will vary from person to person?
It is very true that sex drive or libido varies from person to person, and even varies in a person at different stages of their life and according to what is happening in their life at any particular time.
Low libido can affect both men and women and is only likely to be a problem if it causes stress to the sufferer, affects how a person feels about themselves or is having a detrimental effect on their relationship.
There are a number of situations that may lead to reduced libido and we will investigate the various causes.
There are some causes of low libido that may apply to both men and women and they include:
Psychological and emotional factors can markedly affect a person’s desire for sex; depression can be a major factor in this as can self-esteem, fatigue and history of sexual abuse. In addition, if a relationship is going through a rocky time there may be an emotional rift between the couple and this can result in levels of sexual desire diminishing.
There are a number of chronic conditions which may impact a persons sex drive:
There are some regularly prescribed medications that may have the effect of reducing sexual desire in a person. They include antidepressants, hypertensive medication (treatment for high blood pressure), antipsychotic drugs, medications for enlarged prostate glands and some hormonal contraceptives.
Excess alcohol consumption and the use of recreational drugs can cause reduced libido.
Low libido also has some causes which are specific to women. They include:
As levels of oestrogen drop in women during menopause, this may, in turn, lead to sexually related problems such as thinning and dryness of the walls of the vagina which in turn can lead to sex being painful. This in turn may lead the woman to associate sex with pain which will lead to her being less inclined to have sex.
Women also produce small levels of the sex hormone testosterone, levels of which also drop during menopause. However, testosterone causes sexual desire in a woman and if the levels drop, so will the levels of sexual desire.
Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes both during the pregnancy and afterwards which may affect the woman’s sex drive. The hormonal changes may either diminish sexual desire or increase it depending on the individual woman involved
The main cause of low sex drive in men is low levels of testosterone. It is a sex hormone that is produced by the testes and is responsible for a number of bodily functions related to sexual attributes. It controls the body’s productions of body hair, facial hair, determines body and muscle mass, sperm production, bone density and sex drive. If the levels of testosterone are low this will lead to a low sex drive.
Conditions that may cause low levels of testosterone include:
For good reason, treatment will very much depend on the cause of the reduced libido.
If a person is taking medication that is causing the problem, the GP will need to consider offering a suitable alternative.
If an underlying condition is causing the problem such as diabetes or heart disease, then the first step would be to treat the condition and see if it improves.
In the case of women, oestrogen therapy can be useful in treating a reduced sex drive, particularly if it is associated with menopause. As yet, however, its efficacy is not proven for this symptom.
Oestrogen therapy can be given systemically as a pill to raise the level of oestrogen throughout the body or topically as a cream to treat specific areas such as the vagina where it will help to alleviate any dryness.
For men, testosterone replacement therapy can be given and this may be given via injections or topical patches.
In general, the healthier a person’s lifestyle is, the more likely they are to have a healthy sex drive.
Consider your lifestyle and see how it may be improved, This may include:
If the reduced levels of libido can be attributed to depression, stress, anxiety or relationship issues there may be some type of counselling therapy that would help. It is important to seek the advice of your GP who will be able to advise on the most appropriate type of counselling treatment, be it sex therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or another more suitable type of therapy.
Find out more about the treatments mentioned in this article below:
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