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What causes low sex drive?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
A variety of factors -- both physical and psychological -- may cause low libido. For some people, low sex drive is caused by physical problems, like other illnesses, certain medications, surgery that affects your genitals, or any problems that make sex painful. Alcohol and drugs may lead to a decreased sex drive. Hormonal changes may affect libido, so women may experience low sex drive during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. Low libido can also be caused by aging - as people get older, their hormones and other physical characteristics may change and affect their sex drive. Psychological issues may also decrease your sex drive. Stress, anxiety, and depression may cause a low sex drive. In addition to psychological issues, relationship issues may also affect your sex drive. A low libido may be caused by conflicts in your relationship or any kind of disconnection with your partner.
A healthy sex drive is part physical and part emotional, and everything that’s going on in someone’s life needs to be considered when dealing with low sexual desire. The physical causes of low desire may include low testosterone due to aging, menopause or andropause, or recent childbirth; certain medications, such as many antidepressants, antihypertensives, or hormonal contraception (such as certain birth control pills); and other chronic diseases. While a general practitioner may be able to run tests to determine a diagnosis, it can be helpful to see a specialist -- males can see a urologist and females can see an obstetrician/gynecologist. If hormones are a possible culprit, men and women can see an endocrinologist.

While the health-related causes of low desire tend to be emphasized, however, relationship quality and daily stress are often more important -- and sorely neglected when looking for a solution. Low sexual desire is a common result of depression, relationship conflict and anger, past trauma or abuse, or too much stress in a person’s day-to-day life. Low sexual desire also may occur because of other sexual function complaints, such as trouble with arousal or orgasm, painful intercourse, or erectile dysfunction since sex becomes a source of stress, not pleasure.

Continue Learning about Sex Drive (Libido)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.