It’s bound to happen at some point in a man’s life – a gradual decline in or even complete loss of interest in sex. Chalk it up to growing older or getting out of shape, when a man’s virility wanes, it can come as a shock not only to men but also their partners. Just like women, the male sex drive can show signs of slowing down with age. On average, low libido in men affects about 20 to 25 percent of U.S. men with this percentage increasing in males over age 55.
However, men are supposed to be “always in the mood,” right? Not true. Men can and do experience low libido and for many reasons. Fortunately, there are many ways to address low sex drive helping men to enjoy a satisfying and pleasurable sex life once again.
Symptoms and causes of low libido in men
The term “low libido” is used to describe a lack of interest in or desire for sexual activity. For men, symptoms of low libido may include thinking about sex less often, a reduction in responsiveness to sexual stimulation, infrequently or not initiating sexual activity, and unable to find sex as pleasurable as it once was. Each man’s desire for sex is different and it’s not unusual to change over time. And, since there’s no “normal” level of libido, symptoms are very dependent on the individual.
The causes of low libido are multifaceted. For men, a lack of interest in sex may stem from various health problems, emotional, and lifestyle factors, or a combination of each. A lack of testosterone is a very common cause of low libido in both men and women. Women also make the hormone testosterone helping create the sexual desire in both sexes.
Common causes of low libido
Besides reduced testosterone levels, other common causes of low libido include:
- Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
- Chronic illness
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sleep problems such as sleep apnea
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Diagnosing low libido
When a man’s lack of sexual desire has become worrisome, concerning, or is negatively affecting his personal relationship with his partner, it’s time to seek help. By addressing this with a healthcare professional, they can review the totality of a man’s overall health and wellbeing helping find the root cause of the problem.
When meeting with a doctor to discuss low sex drive, it’s important to evaluate sexual desire issues. Questions such as when low libido began, what is the severity of it, is it situational, are there relationship issues or any health factors involved, and what treatments have been previously taken to treat it, all need to be asked and assessed.
Sometimes, other ongoing sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation can be the root cause of low sexual desire in men. Their low libido may be a man’s attempt to avoid these sexual situations in order not to “fail” or disappoint his partner.
After evaluating sexuality concerns, general medical history and full physical exam should be performed including blood work to check hormonal levels, thyroid imbalances, diabetes, and screening for abnormal lipid levels of total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure. It’s also vital to review a man’s medication list, particularly of anti-depressants, blood pressure medications, and recreational drug use that can negatively affect sexual desire. Chronic, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease also have a strong influence impacting a man’s interest in sex.
After taking into consideration and reviewing all psychosocial and medical concerns, a man’s doctor can narrow it down the main cause(s) of this sexual problem. From that point, together the man and his doctor can determine which safe and effective treatments to be implemented.
Treating low libido
Treatment options for low libido are as variable as the causes. For a treatment to be successful, the root cause needs to be uncovered in order to correct the situation. Otherwise, a man will continue to languish in relationships lacking physical intimacy.
For instance, if the root problem is being caused by a certain medication a man is taking, changing the dose or switching to a medication without sexual side effects, may resolve the issue right away. Depending on the medication, this may take some time to resolve but in time should improve their interest in sex once again.
If the root cause is from an ongoing chronic medical condition, finding ways to improve their health can also improve low libido. For example, if a man’s type 2 diabetes is not being well managed and is causing erectile dysfunction, placing them on medication for erectile dysfunction and a referral to a registered dietitian to discuss carbohydrate counting for better blood glucose control, are important tools for boosting sexual interest.
If a man’s low libido has psychological causes or relationship issues, a referral to a sex therapist or general therapist for relationship counseling is warranted. Sometimes, a low libido points to a desire for a closer connection with their partner and that is not necessarily sexual but still intimate. Openly discussing with a trained professional in psychology, is a therapeutic method of discovering what is preventing the desire for sex and then coming up with options or remedies for renewing interest in sex once again.
Men who suffer from untreated sleep apnea should be referred to a sleep study clinic to evaluate their need for a CPAP machine and how to obtain a good night’s rest helping increase desire for sexual activity.
If the problem is low testosterone levels, working with a urologist or endocrinologist on what type and dosage of testosterone replacement therapy to use can be a lifesaver for improving the lack of libido.
Men should also be encouraged to take proactive steps of boosting their libido on their own by adopting a healthier lifestyle of choosing nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and practicing stress management.
Improving and igniting a man’s interest and desire for sex is possible. Pinpointing the root cause and finding the best solution(s) can be immensely helpful in restoring a man’s sex life with his partner not only benefits his health but also benefits his overall quality of life.