What Factors Affect Libido (Sex Drive)?
Libido — also called sex drive, sexual desire, or sexual appetite — is a measure of a person’s interest in sexual activity. Changes in libido level can cause problems in intimate relationships.
Low libido, in particular, is common. Not only does low libido affect a person’s desire for sexual activity, but it also directly impacts physical responses in both men and women that prepare the body for sex.
What Causes Low Libido?
Libido is a complex drive affected by physical, psychological, and social factors. It can change gradually with age or rapidly due to health issues, life circumstances, etc.
Some of the many factors that can adversely affect libido include:
- Decreases in estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone, such as with the onset of menopause or andropause (male menopause)
- Taking prescription medications, including antidepressants and birth control pills
- Experiencing increased stress levels
- Having low self-esteem or body image issues
- Using drugs or alcohol
- Having diabetes or high blood pressure
It’s important to note that everyone has their definition of a “normal” amount of sexual desire.
That said, it’s not uncommon to experience temporary declines in libido below what you consider a normal level. However, if your sexual desire remains low, that can indicate physical and/or mental health issues. It also can cause relationship problems and impact your quality of life.
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How Is Low Libido Treated?
Successful treatment for low libido starts with identifying its cause or causes. Based on that information, there are several treatments that your doctor can prescribe. In many instances, they may recommend more than one form of treatment.
Doctors often advise patients to make lifestyle changes initially. This can include eating a healthier diet, getting more exercise, quitting smoking, and reducing or eliminating the use of drugs and alcohol.
It’s also important that you identify and manage any issues in your life that are causing you stress. Often, a drop in libido can be one of those stressors. Talking openly and honestly with your partner about your needs can help relieve that stress.
Behavioral therapy is another treatment that can be effective. With this approach, a counselor helps you determine if there are emotional factors that are affecting your libido. They can also provide strategies for enhancing desire and sexual enjoyment for you and your partner.
If your doctor finds that you have hormonal imbalances, they may recommend hormone replacement therapy to correct them. In addition, there are medications you can take to increase sexual desire or address sexual performance issues that result in less interest in sex.
Overly High Libido
While low libido is a more common issue, an overly high libido can cause stress, frustration, and relationship problems, as well. The most common causes of this condition are high levels of the mood-regulating hormones dopamine and serotonin, conditions that affect the brain like dementia, and certain medications.
Overly high libido is treated by determining and addressing the underlying cause.
Get Help with Libido Issues from Baptist Health
Libido issues can be successfully treated. The first step is to understand that these issues are common and nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. The next is to talk with your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing and how to address them.
If you don’t have a Baptist Health doctor, you can find one using our provider directory.
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