While it’s not something most people are comfortable expressing in a group, most adults experience periodic ebbs and flows in their libido and sometimes the ebbs are more frequent or last longer than we care to admit.
Many different things can affect a person’s sex drive. When a long-term relationship is involved, there are two people who need to be in the mood so the balance can be even more delicate.
Since it’s a topic many people shy away from bringing up in the doctor’s office, today I’ll talk about some of the major issues known to put a damper on sex drive and some of the solutions available.
First, let’s get the gender question out of the way. Low sexual desire is much more common among women than men, but it is by no means strictly a female problem.
Many of the main culprits for lowering sex drive affect men too.
In order for a couple to have a satisfying sex life, both partners need to be in a physically and psychologically conducive space for it.
Our population is aging and we are living longer than ever before. This is great news, but when it comes to sexuality, there are a few issues associated with aging that can cause us problems.
Hormonally, both men and women experience declining rates of sex hormones as we age.
For men, lower testosterone levels and the possible development of prostate issues or endocrine problems can cause a decline in desire.
As women go through menopause and estrogen declines, this can affect the libido as well as cause changes in vaginal tissue that can make intercourse a painful experience. In this case, lubricant creams or gels can help.
There are also some hormonal treatments available that can help some people, but do need to be discussed with a physician.
Your family doctor can help you sort through the options as well as their risks and benefits.
Hormones aside, some of the other chronic ailments and issues associated with aging such as arthritis, joint pain and cardiovascular problems also don’t help in the bedroom.
With this in mind, physical health is important for people of all ages and affects all aspects of our lives including life between the sheets.
When our body isn’t healthy, it’s very difficult to maintain a healthy sex life. Getting regular exercise, properly treating any chronic health issues, maintaining a healthy body weight, quitting smoking and avoiding too much alcohol can all help.
Another common libido crusher is the fatigue, busy-ness and stress of our daily grind.
When we don’t get enough sleep and are feeling the pressures of a demanding job or overwhelming household, it’s difficult to get in the mood for much aside from a good night’s sleep.
Hard as it is, it may be necessary to carve out a bit more time for relaxation, rest and connecting to improve libido.
When we are sleep-deprived or stressed out, our body may not produce the necessary hormones.
Anyone who has children can likely remember the sleepless, foggy days of having a new baby in the house. This is one time of life known to take a toll on a couple’s sex life.
The pain of recovering from childbirth, hormonal changes and sleep deprivation are all at fault here.
Time will help ease all of these issues and as long as the couple remains connected in other ways, there is no reason a satisfying sex life will not return.
Of course, unresolved relationship difficulties or loss of intimacy will also rob a couple of their libido. Communication and remaining close in other ways often produce a satisfying sex life simply by their presence.
Finally, mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are known to affect sexual desire.
If these conditions exist and are not treated, this could be one of the symptoms. When a person is depressed, a loss of interest in enjoyable activities usually occurs and can be resolved with appropriate treatment.
If your sex drive is non-existent and you can’t figure out why, consider speaking with your doctor. Ruling out underlying health issues could make a big difference.
Paul Latimer is a psychiatrist and president of Okanagan Clinical Trials.