Low Sex Drive

Help for lack of or low sex drive and information on how to increase sexual frequency.

Select a Topic

  1. What is Low Sex Drive or Lack of Libido?
  2. Diagnosing Low Sex Drive
  3. What Causes Low Sex Drive?
  4. Low Sex Drive During and After Pregnancy
  5. Help for Low Sex Drive
  6. Foods to Increase Sex Drive in Men and Women

What is Low Sex Drive?

Low sex drive, also called low libido, is the lack of desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex varies greatly from person to person, and libido levels can rise and fall throughout life. A temporary decrease in sexual desire is common and is usually caused by short-term lifestyle factors such as fatigue or stress. If lack of interest in sex lasts a long time, it could be a sign of an underlying problem or health condition.

People love to talk about sex, but they don’t often talk about low sex drive. Loss of interest in sex is very common and can have a big impact on the people involved. Differences in libido are normal, but when a couple is out of sync sexually for a long time it can trigger relationship issues.

When men or women lose interest in sex, they may feel anxious because they are unable to fulfill their partner’s sexual needs. Meanwhile, the partner may wonder about their own desirability or sexual performance. This can impact the couple’s emotional connection. If both partners’ needs are not discussed openly and honestly, relationship problems can result.

Lowered sex drive doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a sex life, but it can mean you are enjoying it less. Research has shown that men who experience decreased libido can achieve erections, but have lost sexual desire. Similarly, women with low libido can reach an orgasm but lack real sexual desire.

Diagnosing Low Sex Drive

Loss of sexual desire can happen for many reasons. It’s important to talk to your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor will look at physical factors that impact your sex life, as well as lifestyle and psychological factors. Attitudes and feelings about sex, your partner, and unresolved issues within the relationship can play a large role in sexual desire.

Your doctor will ask whether the problem with low sex drive is a lifelong lack of sexual desire, or occurs only in a particular situation or with a certain partner. If your sexual desire has dropped, your doctor will focus on when and why the change occurred. They may ask about self-esteem, stress levels, depression and other psychological factors that can play a role in sexual health.

What Causes Low Sex Drive?

Low sex drive can have physical and psychological causes. A number of medical conditions can also affect libido.

Physical causes of low sex drive include: 

  • Alcohol, either binge drinking or alcoholism
  • Using certain recreational drugs, such as cocaine, can cause sexual dysfunction
  • Lack of sleep
  • Prescription drugs, such as tranquilizers, ulcer medications and blood thinners
  • Prescription antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs
  • Birth control pills
  • Low testosterone levels in men
  • Hormone changes related to aging
  • Menopause
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Anemia (iron deficiency)
  • Pregnancy
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anorexia
  • Liver problems, such as cirrhosis and hepatitis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Heart Disease
  • Thrush or yeast infections
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Hyperprolactinemia
  • Exercising too much, or not enough
  • Gynecological problems such as vaginismus (involuntary clamping of vaginal muscles) and dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse) can affect female sexuality and result in women’s loss of interest in sex
  • Male sexual problems such as premature ejaculation, impotence and problems with blood flow

If you suspect your low sex drive is physical in nature, consult a doctor or gynecologist. Your doctor may prescribe stimulants or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to increase your sexual sensation and pleasure to boost your sex drive, although these medications may include side effects.

Psychological causes of low sex drive:

One of the most common causes of low sex drive is mental health issues like depression. The neurotransmitter dopamine is linked to increases and decreases in libido. Sexual desire can also be hampered by stress, anxiety, sexual hang-ups, sexual identity questions, poor self-esteem, past sexual abuse or rape, bipolar disorder, erectile dysfunction and relationship problems. Lifestyle factors such as lack of time, sexual incompatibility and lack of privacy can also affect low sex drive.

If psychological or relationship problems could be causing your low sex drive, a counselor or therapist can help. By addressing the problems, you can improve your sexual health.

Low Sex Drive During and After Pregnancy

It is common for women to have a decreased sex drive during and after pregnancy. Low libido during pregnancy and after having a baby may be a combination of physical and psychological factors:

  • Morning sickness, which can dampen feeling “in the mood”
  • Body image concerns
  • Worrying about the safety of the baby
  • Postpartum depression
  • Preoccupation with newborn
  • Fatigue and interrupted sleep
  • Breastfeeding hormones

Treatments for Low Sex Drive

Treatment for low sex drive addresses the root causes of low libido, whether physical or psychological. Prescription medications are available to address mental health issues, hormone imbalances and other physical causes. Side effects can include unwanted symptoms, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan. Changes in sex drive may not happen right away, even with treatment. A commitment to improving and maintaining open communication between partners is critical for restoring sexual desire.

How to boost sex drive:

  • Eat a balanced diet filled with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (see below for a list of foods to increase sex drive!)
  • Decrease alcohol intake, because alcohol can decrease sexual function
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to increase sex drive and stamina
  • Reconnect with your partner physically by touching—holding each other, massage or kissing
  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditating, listening to music and practicing yoga to reduce stress
  • Communicate openly and honestly about the sexual dysfunction and be supportive of each other
  • Seek professional help

Foods to Increase Sex Drive in Men and Women

It’s true, certain foods are thought to improve your sex life!

  • Oysters: well-known as a “classic” aphrodisiac, oysters are high in zinc, which increases testosterone and sperm, plus dopamine, a hormone linked to libido
  • Celery: contains androsterone, an odorless hormone that is said to be a sexual stimulant for women
  • Banana: rich in potassium and B vitamins, which help boost low energy levels, a common cause of low libido, plus contains bromelain enzymes, which help boost sex drive
  • Avocado: high folic acid promotes energy, drive and stamina, and rich in potassium and vitamin B6
  • Nuts: rich in essential fatty acids and help support the body’s natural production of hormones
  • Eggs: high in vitamin B6 and B5, eggs help promote balanced hormone levels, which promote sex drive

Supplements to Help Low Sex Drive 

Since low sex drive can have physical and psychological components, supporting the body and mind with the right nutrients can help. Herbal supplements like the His & Hers Passion ComboPack can help boost sexual health, heighten passion and support vitality, energy and stamina in men and women.

 
 
The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke
References:
  1. Blattner, D., Bodenmann, G., Galluzzo, C., Ledermann, T. “Associations Among Everyday Stress, Critical Life Events and Sexual Problems.” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 194(7):494-501, July 2006. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00005053-200607000-00005
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  3. Hackney, A., Lane, A., O’Leary, C., Register-Mihalik, J. “Endurance Exercise Training and Male Sexual Libido.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 49(7):1383–1388, July 2017. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00005768-201707000-00013
  4. “Low Sex Drive in Women.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sex-drive-in-women/symptoms-causes/syc-20374554
  5. Basson, R. “Low Sexual Desire Disorder.” Merck Manual. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/sexual-dysfunction-in-women/low-sexual-desire-disorder
  6. Nall, R. “Low Sex Drive in Women: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.” Healthline. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/treating-hsdd/symptoms-diagnosis-treatment#1
  7. Nall, R. “Steps to Take if Your Low Sex Drive is Impacting Your Relationship.” Healthline. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/treating-hsdd/impact-on-relationships
  8. “Sexual desire disorder.” Psychology Today. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/sexual-desire-disorder
  9. “Sexual health and aging: keep the passion alive.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 3, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/in-depth/sexual-health/art-20046698
  10. Suttie, J. “Can Mindfulness Treat Sexual Dysfunction?” Great Good Magazine. Accessed March 2, 2019. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/mindfulness_treat_sexual_dysfunction