Low Libido in Men
Low libido is one of the hardest things for a man to acknowledge, because of the general belief that men are always ”up for sex” and women are the ones more likely to suffer loss of libido.
It might be a surprise to learn that that a lot of men experience low libido at some stage in their lives. Sex therapists report low libido is the most common reason couples seek help, and research suggests between 25 and 40 per cent of men experience low libido.
Sydney sex therapist Matty Silver was overwhelmed with response when she wrote about the stress low libido causes in relationships.
A man’s sex drive can fluctuate for all the same reasons a woman’s can, she noted.
“He could be stressed, unhappy, tired because of having to work long hours. There can be lifestyle issues such as tobacco, alcohol consumption and the use of medication for depression, high cholesterol, diabetes, and so on.
“Men don’t always realise these issues can affect their sexual functioning. If they suddenly experience erectile problems, premature or delayed ejaculation, they can become very reluctant to have sex.
“Women often don’t realise erectile problems can be due to health rather than desire – and can take a partner’s avoidance of sex personally. They question whether they are attractive anymore or if someone else may be involved.”
Low Libido Common in Aussie Men
Sexologist Elaine George from Sexology Australia says that the most common sexual issue she sees with both couples and singles is low libido – and often it is the man who experiences loss of libido.
“Blame achieves nothing,” says George. “Women need to realise that this is not about them, even though their self-esteem and self-worth suffers. What’s important to know is that the problem is almost always fixable.”
And low libido is not the same as erectile dysfunction. Low libido is not wanting sex. Erectile dysfunction is wanting sex but not being able to complete the act.
How Do You Know if a Man has Low Libido?
Deciding whether you suffer from low libido depends entirely on how satisfied you are with your sex life and life generally.
The definition of low libido is subjective, according to sex therapist Louanne Cole Weston, PhD.
If a man is concerned about his low sex drive, or if his relationship is stressed because his partner is complaining about not getting enough sex, then there could be a problem. It’s about compatibility rather than the number of times a week the couple has sex, says Dr Weston.
One couple she counselled had sex twice a year, once at Christmas and once on his birthday. They were both happy with the arrangement but worried there was “something wrong with them.”
Says Dr Weston: “We went through it all and found they didn’t really want to change. Their true joy lay in doing what they were doing together in their laboratory. Sex was not a high priority for either of them. They were real cerebral types.” After a couple of sessions they realised they were both happy and there was no need for change.
Relationships and Low Libido
Desire discrepancy – where one partner wants sex more than the other – occurs in most long term relationships as couples cope with the demands of work, family and keeping it all together.
Although it may typically be the woman who is the low libido partner and the man the high, it can just as readily be the other way round.
Whichever it is, when desire discrepancy occurs for long periods, the high desire partner can feel rejected and lonely, and detached from the relationship. They react by either becoming hurt and angry, or seeking sexual affection elsewhere. Neither choice is good for a happy relationship and sexual and emotional health.
Top 7 Causes of Low Libido in Men
1) Side Effects of Drugs
Many of the medications prescribed for midlife health problems like depression, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure are recognised to reduce sex drive. WebMD says side effects of such medications are the number one cause of low libido in men. Drugs that cause low libido in men include:
- SSRI type antidepressants
- Cholesterol lowering drugs
- Anti-hypertensive drugs for high blood pressure
- Prostate drugs like Proscar
2) Stress and Fatigue
The recession has hit men’s jobs hardest and the stress of losing your job, of redundancy in mid-life, and working longer hours to secure your future take a heavy toll on body and mind. Traumatic events like job loss can reduce testosterone levels dramatically – adding ten years of physical ageing in just a few months.
3) Alcohol and Drugs
The temptation to “self-medicate” stress by increasing your alcohol or drug intake can have disastrous results. Doctors suggest drug and alcohol consumption may be a bigger cause of low sex drive than the stress itself.
4) Low Testosterone / High Estrogen
A drop in testosterone affects sex drive. Hormonal imbalance after 40 can also result in a relative increase in estrogen, leading to weight gain and further reduction in libido.
5) Diabetes and Other Major Illness
Chronic illness – particularly diabetes and heart disease – commonly result in low libido in men.
Women underestimate the impact financial or job stress has on a man’s sense of well-being, suggests bestselling author and Today show and Oprah regular Michele Weiner Davis (The Sex-Starved Wife, What To Do When He’s Lost Desire, Simon and Schuster.)
Low libido is men’s best kept secret, she suggests in a “Help for sex starved wives” Time magazine interview.
Dr Weiner Davis suggests other personal issues could be impacting on a man’s desire, including a childhood history of sexual abuse, or if he grew up in a dysfunctional family and has low self-esteem.
7) Relationship Issues
One of the myths of male sexuality is that nothing gets in the way of their sex drive; they’ll want to have sex in a snow storm. The reality is that many men are as affected by underlying unresolved relationship issues as women are. Many men need to feel emotionally connected to feel sexual. And nothing turns off a man quicker than a critical, nagging wife. Sydney author Nigel Marsh got a hot response when he complained many Aussie men were “sexually starved” because their wives used sex for power in the relationship.
What You Can Do About Low Libido
- Check for any underlying physical causes
- Change medication to see if libido improves
- Be kind to your body – exercise, stop smoking, control stress, lose weight and reduce alcohol
- Check testosterone levels
- Try a herbal supplement like Herbal Ignite
How Do Natural Remedies for Low Libido Work?
Traditional medicine has long recognised some herbs work as libido enhancers or aphrodisiacs, increasing desire and enhancing sexual response.
Natural sex enhancers like tribulus terrestris, horny goat weed, maca, muiara puama, damiana and yohimbe have become increasingly popular as men and women look for answers to the problem of low libido.
Herbal supplements need to be taken for one to three months before deciding whether they are going to be of some benefit, as they work more gradually and progressively than pharmaceuticals.
Take Action to Treat Low Libido
We hope you have taken away from this article the key message that low libido in men can be treated and it is worth doing something about it.
Give yourself a break. If you are suffering a loss of libido, take stock of your situation, talk to your doctor and your partner, and make a short checklist of things you can do to start taking control and getting the joy back in life.