Having a low sex drive sucks, and it’s even worse having to talk about it with your doctor or partner. Unfortunately, if you’re experiencing a low sex drive, there aren't many options. But before you pour your heart out to a doctor (or before you inadvertently ruin your libido), we talked to Dr. Birgit M. Fisher, a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in the treatment of sexual disorders and Core Associate Professor at the University of the Rockies, and Dr. Gary Martz, a practitioner in General Adult Psychiatry in Denver about what could potentially throw your sex drive into "park." For now, you can just sit back and read up on some surprising things that are (and aren’t) affecting your sex drive, and how you can get back on track in the sack.
Anti-depressants have a bad rap for messing with mojo, but often medical side effects are not to blame. Most people actually have something called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, which is just another name for low sex drive. It’s important to remember that men wanting sex all the time is not based in fact. Men have different libidos, different biological sex drives and desires, and just because they don’t want sex, doesn’t mean something is wrong. However, any medications used to lower testosterone, like those used to treat prostate cancer, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like paroxetine and fluoxetine, and serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs), like venlafaxine. Also lithium, benzodiazephines, antihypertensives, cardiovascular drugs, and lipid-lowering meds like gemfibrozil, could alter sex drive. While there isn’t a lot of evidence that supplements lower sex drive, scientists have found that people who take St. John’s Wort notice a lower libido. It’s always good to check the labels on anything you take, or ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re concerned.
Alcohol and Caffeine
Booze and caffeine can lower your sex drive, but it depends on how much you are ingesting, how often and any underlying psychiatric issues. Caffeine, a stimulant, can aggravate underlying anxiety conditions, which can lessen desire for sex. Lots of alcohol is bad for libido, erectile function and orgasmic function. But in smaller amounts (especially for men who experience anxiety), alcohol might increase libido.
Everyone knows that too little exercise can lower sex drive, but too much can, too. Excessive exercise that leads to conditions akin to eating disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorder can have a negative impact on sex drive, putting your body into a negative, catabolic-like state. Overall, being fit helps people feel sexy, so moderate exercise is good. Bonus points if the exercise contains some sort of erotic element. For women, that’s salsa and tango, while men are more interested in traditional bodybuilding. Yoga has been known to increase sexual interest and enhances sexual pleasure. According to a review published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, yoga has even been reported to stimulate genital blood ﬂow, which enhances erectile capacity and may improve orgasms. And obviously yoga is a huge de-stresser, which can stave off low sex drive as well. [pagebreak]
Repeated viewing of porn or even just associated masturbation can cause over-stimulation of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that triggers sexual pleasure. If this happens over and over, it becomes harder for the brain to respond. This can be reversed by avoiding pornography and sticking to a healthier masturbating pattern. It might sound easy, but men often have a hard time self-regulating this behavior, which is why often people seek professional help.
If you’re in a rough patch with your partner, it might be the culprit, lessening sex drive even in men who once had a healthy one, as a form of self-protection. If you sense a wall, identify what’s bothering you and talk to your partner about it, or seek professional help. You do have to address the issues, though. Avoiding the conversation might make your partner feel rejected or even suspect you’re being unfaithful.
Since sleep deprivation and exhaustion negate sexual interest, new moms and dads often experience a hit to their sex drive. And while fathers are spared from physiological changes other than being busy, sleep deprived and anxious, a woman has significant hormonal volatility post-delivery and breastfeeding will increase the level of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production and lowers sex drive. Plus, baby weight often makes new-moms uncomfortable with their new bodies, adding another barrier to intimacy.