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What are medical treatments for low libido?

Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Medical treatments for libido problems are often combined with sex therapy. The following options are available:
  • Hormone treatment for men. Although there's a clear link between testosterone production and male libido, researchers have yet to discover the exact nature of the connection. If a man's hormone level is clearly below normal, testosterone supplements can make a noticeable difference in his libido and erectile function. On the other hand, testosterone supplementation seems to have no effect on men whose natural testosterone is already within a normal range. The impact of testosterone treatment on men who have borderline or low-normal hormone levels is still unknown. Although desire wanes with age, this problem doesn't seem to be linked to declining testosterone.
  • Hormone treatment for women. Many people don't realize that women also produce testosterone naturally, and this hormone affects libido in women as it does in men. The natural decline of testosterone that accompanies aging can affect a woman's sexual responsiveness, although a clear link has never been found between testosterone levels and low desire or other sexual problems in women. Although some healthcare providers prescribe testosterone, information on its safety and efficacy for women is limited.
  • Bupropion. This antidepressant may increase sexual desire and arousal. In one small study published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 60 women and men with sexual desire or arousal difficulties (but not depression) were given either bupropion (Wellbutrin) or a placebo for 12 weeks. At the end of the study period, more of the participants taking bupropion reported improvements in their sexual functioning than those in the control group. People who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medications, such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft), which may cause sexual side effects, may want to ask their clinicians about trying bupropion instead of, or in addition to, their SSRI.

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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.