Top 10 Things That Can Reduce Sex Drive

Wondering what happened to your libido? We've got 10 things that could be putting your sex drive in reverse.
Wondering what happened to your libido? We've got 10 things that could be putting your sex drive in reverse.
Andrea Chu/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Sex. Without overlooking the allure of money, power or even peace of mind, is there anything on this earth considered more desirable? A healthy sex life can be incredibly enriching. Conversely, a stalled libido can be unnerving, especially since the underlying causes can be so varied.

There are dozens of possible reasons for a waning sex drive. Men and women share some of these issues, while others are more gender specific. Some are natural and, to a certain degree, unavoidable. Others can be self-inflicted and relate to other far-reaching lifestyle issues, such as alcohol or drug abuse.

The reasons can be physical, including hormone imbalances, or psychological -- or both. And many can overlap, leaving loving partners feeling overwhelmed about why they're feeling beleaguered between the sheets. To complicate things further, there's no "magic number" to signify how often we ought to be having sex. It really varies from woman to woman, man to man, and couple to couple.

Last, it's a topic that many of us are uncomfortable discussing. As a result, those with a faltering libido often suffer in silence, creating an atmosphere of anxiety. In this instance, however, a little information can go a long way toward providing a solution, and the reality is that many causes are treatable.

Learn why Father Time isn't your sex drive's best friend.

10
Sex and the Aging Process

Blame it on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. As we get older, our sex drive ebbs because, truthfully, it's no longer critical for the survival of the species. That's the responsibility of the younger generation.

For example, a man's testosterone levels typically max out in his late teens and then slowly decline, though he can expect his sexual appetite to stay relatively strong through his 60s [source: Mayo Clinic]. For women, sex drive peaks when the hormones progesterone, estrogen and testosterone are balanced, but typically declines when this balance is upset during the onset of perimenopause.

Menopause can be especially difficult on women's sex drive. It is the quintessential double jeopardy, since the production of estrogen -- a hormone that not only helps maintain a healthy libido but also healthy vaginal tissue -- tails off during menopause. That can result in painful intercourse, which isn't going to jump-start your sex drive. Consider lubricating creams or gels.

Men don't get a free ride through their "mid-life" speed bump, either. In addition to testosterone levels dropping, aging men must be aware of potential prostate issues and possible endocrine problems [source: Nippoldt]. Obviously, there can be major issues such as cardiovascular health to consider as well.

The specter of arthritis and joint pain for aging partners also makes traditional lovemaking less attractive. Experts recommend exploring new positions to keep the fun and adventure alive in bed

But did you know that aging isn't the only physical issue that affects our libido? Lack of exercise plays a part, too.

9
Let's Get Physical
If your failed advances have you thinking, "Never mind," maybe it's time for you and your significant other to get in shape together. It could provide just the spark you need.
If your failed advances have you thinking, "Never mind," maybe it's time for you and your significant other to get in shape together. It could provide just the spark you need.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Aging unquestionably affects sex drive, but it's not the only reason we feel less amorous, physically speaking. There is a litany of body-related issues that can trip us up on our way to the bedroom.

For both men and women, the rule of thumb is that healthier bodies result in healthier sex drives. Generally speaking, men experience a more consistent sex drive. For women, it's perfectly natural for their sexual appetite to fluctuate more often, based on their monthly cycles and other issues.

Diseases -- including diabetes and cancer -- can suppress hormone production, as can hypertension and blunt trauma injuries to a man's testicles. Furthermore, some anti-cancer and anticonvulsant medications can also have adverse side effects that can affect sex drive [source: Krch]. Don't hesitate to mention these to your prescribing doctor.

Remember, too, that sex is a physical activity. Intercourse can tax your heart and, depending on how playful you are, a host of muscle groups (the lower back is particularly susceptible). Plus, if you're physically active -- especially those who continue to play contact sports -- you may be bringing aches and pains to bed that can dull your sex drive.

Did you realize your weight affects your sex drive?

8
Size and Sex Drive

Famed Irish playwright Brendan Behan once reportedly rebuffed the passionate advances of an equally rotund woman by admitting he'd like to accept her offer, "but I'm afraid our equators would prevent conjugation." Excess weight not only can make the very act of having sex difficult, but it can also put a serious damper on your sex drive.

From a physiological perspective, excessive weight puts an inordinate amount of stress on the body's major organs, potentially leaving any sex drive in shambles. Romantics like to refer to lovemaking as an affair of the heart, but if your heart is too busy trying to push blood through pounds of excess adipose tissue, it won't be able to deliver an adequate supply to your sexual organs.

Plus, being overweight can lead to more serious issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, most of which are libido killers. Improving your diet can help improve all those conditions and will boost your libido as well.

Don't discount the impact that being overweight has on body image, and subsequently sex drive. Thanks to Madison Avenue, we're constantly being bombarded with images of the ideal body. Remember that those "images" reflect a miniscule portion of the public. While it's human nature to measure ourselves against those unrealistic goals, try to avoid doing that to yourself or your partner.

Do you know why getting your rest is as important as having sex? Keep reading.

7
Not Tonight; I'm Exhausted
Putting in extra hours at the office may help your career, but it won't help your marriage if you're too tired to perform.
Putting in extra hours at the office may help your career, but it won't help your marriage if you're too tired to perform.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

There's a reason that it's called the "daily grind." Running around from sun up to sundown can wear you out. Between long workdays, relationship and family issues, and other commitments, there's rarely time left in the evening for feeling passionate.

And even if there is time, the timing often isn't right, with one partner wanting to initiate foreplay and the other simply wanting to initiate a good night's sleep.

When you're tired, it takes a toll on your entire body. You're not operating at 100 percent. Sleep deprivation directly affects hormone production, which directly affects sex drive. In simple terms, when you're feeling sluggish, you're not likely to feel sexy.

There are also medical conditions to consider, such as chronic insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep apnea. These conditions can be as deceptive as they are debilitating, and they often require medical attention.

For those who are merely run down, a light regimen of exercise can help re-energize your body, leaving you with more zip at the end of the day and more interest in cuddling with your partner. Also, to get a better night's rest, avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime.

Ever wonder why stress and sex don't always get along?

6
Stress and Sex

A close cousin to fatigue, stress is an overarching phenomenon that can have an impact on your overall well-being, including your libido. Given the complexity of daily life, stress can come from any number of sources, including high-pressure jobs and financial worries.

The ideal situation for intimacy is to have everything else in your life balanced. If your life outside the bedroom is out of whack, it will influence your sex life. Like sleep deprivation and excess weight, too much stress leads to your body producing too few helpful hormones -- and the result is inevitably a lagging sex drive.

Here, it's essential not to be demanding of your partner. After all, stress is just another word for the demands we already face in our lives, and few of us need more of those. Plus, pushing your partner away is likely to create more anxiety, and that's not going to boost anyone's sex drive.

In general, exercise is a great weapon in the war against anxiety, since it generates endorphins, a natural stress buster. Relaxation techniques, including yoga, are also highly recommended. Most experts warn against using stress as a crutch for making harmful lifestyle choices, such as overeating, alcohol abuse or cigarette smoking [source: Stoppler].

What are the two faces of the alcohol-libido equation?

5
One More Could Be Too Many

How's this for irony? The very substance -- alcohol -- that's responsible for so much canoodling can also have a deleterious effect on your sex drive when it's not consumed in moderation. Though often considered a stimulant, alcohol is in fact a depressant, which is why it's so effective in lowering our inhibitions.

Of course, both men and women have used alcohol for centuries to overcome shyness and to get the ball rolling, so to speak, either in a bar or in bed. And, provided everyone is still making responsible decisions, there's no problem with that.

However, when alcohol is consumed irresponsibly -- through either binge drinking or prolonged heavy drinking -- it can prevent partners from making good choices (such as practicing safe sex) or making choices at all. It can often hamper sexual performance and even augment negative feelings, leading to angry or abusive behavior.

Long-term alcohol abuse can result in a series of serious physical ailments, especially heart, liver, kidney, pancreas and brain damage. Alcoholism, in short, can have rampant ramifications on every facet of your life, including your sex drive. Studies show heavy alcohol use by men reduces testosterone levels (and can shrink testicles), while chronic female drinkers may experience menstrual irregularities and loss of sex drive [source: Mayo Clinic].

Why are parenting and sex a tricky combination?

4
Libido and Baby

Here's another ironic twist in the wonderful world of sex. That little bundle of joy that transforms a couple into a family can also deflate even the most robust sex drive. And the reasons are many.

Start with the physical demands that the act of natural childbirth puts on a woman. New moms (even those who delivered without complication) need between four and eight weeks to heal. If the delivery required medical intervention -- such as an episiotomy (an incision of the perineum and vaginal wall to assist delivery) -- the recovery period can be even longer.

Women who delivered via Caesarian section likewise need to recover. Coupled with postpartum blues, new moms can feel inundated, and many experts recommend listening to their own bodies with regard to resuming sexual activity. In other words, there's no distinct timeline. Men concerned about hurting their partners postpartum face similar issues.

If mom and dad are sharing the overnight care responsibilities, sleep deprivation can also wreak havoc on the couple's love life. Be patient. In the same vein, if a new mother is breast-feeding, her body will likely experience hormonal shifts that can leave her vagina dry and sore to the touch. Kegel exercises will help new moms tone their pelvic muscles.

So, what's the deal with the Mars-Venus connection?

3
It Takes Two

Parents aren't the only people who sometimes struggle with faltering libidos. The old maxim "break up to make up" may make for catchy song lyrics, but constant friction in a relationship will ultimately fritter away even a resilient sex drive.

It's important for men and women to understand and respect the differences between them. Think of the classic "Mars-Venus" comparison. We're not the same, and unless we talk about those disparities, it's difficult to find common ground in bed. Good communication skills are key. Remember, secrets and negative feelings never make for good foreplay.

Many experts advocate cultivating the relationship first, without being overly focused on the physical side of things. A healthy sex drive, they say, is often a happy byproduct of simply nurturing one another through the ups and downs of everyday life. Take time to talk. Or, as Dr. Janice Swanson of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., suggests: "Set aside time to be sensual and sexual together [source: Mayo Clinic].

Major relationship obstacles -- such as infidelity and mistrust -- are far more challenging, and often require professional counseling. Again, though, partners will need to put the relationship first if they hope to revive their sex drive.

Next up, is there a link between depression and sagging sex drive?

2
The Black Cloud
Feeling blue? Depression could be the reason your libido isn't what it used to be.
Feeling blue? Depression could be the reason your libido isn't what it used to be.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

One of the telltale signs of depression is losing interest in things that once provided pleasure. If you no longer entertain thoughts of enjoying sex, despite having had a fulfilling sex life, that's a warning sign of depression. Don't delay in seeking professional help.

Once relegated to the dark corners of health care, depression today is recognized as a leading cause of emotional, psychological and physical illness. Like fatigue and stress, it can lead to overall poor health and poor lifestyle choices (such as alcohol and drug dependency). And none of these is conducive to a healthy sex drive.

The causes of depression can be incredibly multifaceted and difficult to identify. It's also a far-reaching affliction, potentially affecting your ability to have and enjoy sexual relationships. Depression can be rooted in traumatic events, including childhood or earlier adult life (such as sexual abuse or job loss), pregnancy (postpartum depression) or serious physical ailment (such as a heart attack). All are legitimate reasons to see your doctor.

Adding to the complexity of treating depression is that many antidepressant medications will also curtail sex drive. Be sure to take note of any fluctuation in your libido and mention it to your doctor. Don't be embarrassed.

Should you schedule sex?

1
Life's Everyday Challenges

Even if you rule out the first nine possibilities, there's a good chance that a listless sex drive may result from the accumulation of factors that everyday life presents us with. Our schedules are so jam-packed, whether we're working, attending classes, playing, raising a family, traveling, exercising -- or all of the above.

In truth, sex simply doesn't have the same priority as we get more and more immersed in life. Is it still important? Absolutely. Is it as important? That's a question that people must answer for themselves. Relationship experts believe that, in some instances, a perceived lack of libido is really the result of differing expectations between partners.

Likewise, monotony is the antithesis of a spirited sex drive. Monogamy undoubtedly helps cultivate trust between partners, but it can also create a sense of boredom after a while.

Think of sex like food. Have an adventurous palette and try new positions, places or times of day. Don't be afraid to schedule your rendezvous. If a healthy sexual relationship is important to you, then you and your partner ought to be able to put aside time for it.

Want to know more about boosting your sex drive? You'll find lots more information on the next page.

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Sources

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