What causes low sex drive in Men & Women?
If you’re noticing you don’t seem to have sex as often as you did when you’re younger, and you’re trying to work out what’s changed or what’s wrong with you, try not to stress about it. The demands of modern life can be tough on your sex drive, and many factors can play a role in leaving you feeling like sex is one more demand you just can’t meet.
Media-fuelled expectations have also complicated the issue by placing pressure on both men and women to maintain an active sex life. So it’s not surprising our bodies sometimes feel they cannot keep up.
Who is affected by low sex drive?
Low sex drive – otherwise known as low libido – is a relatively common problem, with an estimated one in three marriages affected in some way by this issue. This is validated by sexual health experts and sex therapists, who report that low sex drive is the most common problem brought up in sexual health counselling.
According to a 2016 study1 published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, almost 70 percent of Australian women aged between 40 and 65 reported a lack of sexual desire. Lead author Dr Rosie Worsely from Monash University said: “We know from previous research that it’s a common problem, but it was a big number to see.”
And another combined study by La Trobe University, the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales reported that nearly 25 percent of men lack interest in sex.2 Low sex drive is also reported by sex therapists and researchers as the second most common sexual health problem for men after premature ejaculation.
A lack of sexual interest – or at the very least a perceived lack – can create relationship tension and sow discord and distrust. If one partner is physically capable of sex but does not want it, it’s difficult for the other not to take it personally and conclude he – or she – doesn’t want that form of intimacy with their partner. No one likes feeling sexually undesirable and this can drain intimacy and positive feelings from a relationship.
Over time, if the problem isn’t dealt with, it can even lead to fears that one partner may be having an affair. Long-term low sex drive can cause tension and distrust in even the strongest relationships.
The sooner you and your partner can begin an open and honest dialogue with each other, and perhaps involve a trained sexual health specialist as well, the sooner low sex drive can be dealt with and your love life restored.
How do you diagnose low sex drive?
Deciding whether your sex drive is ‘low’ or not depends entirely on each partner’s personal satisfaction levels. WebMD sex therapist Dr Louanne Cole Weston says the definition of low sex drive is subjective. However, there could be a problem if:
- A man or woman is concerned about his or her low sex drive, or lack of interest in sex.
- The relationship is stressed because one partner is complaining about not getting enough sex.
- Either partner in a relationship wants sex more often than his or her partner.
It’s about compatibility rather than the number of times a week a couple has sex, says Dr Weston. If both partners in a relationship are comfortable with the frequency of sex, then it’s not a problem.
3 important facts about low sex drive
- Men worry about low sex drive more than women
WebMD reports that men who suffer from low sex drive are more bothered by it than women. It’s harder for men with low sex drive to feel happy about life, and it worries them more, because being sexually active is tied so strongly to the male identity.
- Men and women have low sex drive for similar reasons
Men and women are sexually stimulated in different ways. Men are more turned on by visual cues like nakedness or a display of cleavage, while a woman’s response is more diffuse and affected by the quality of the relationship and everything that has happened during her day. Despite these differences, however, there are similar underlying physical and emotional causes for low sex drive in both men and women.
- Low sex drive in men is different from erectile dysfunction (ED)
Low, or no, sex drive is not the same thing as erectile dysfunction (impotence):
- ED is wanting to have sex but not being able to maintain an erection long enough, while low sex drive is having little desire for sex even if you are capable of achieving erections.
- Prescribed ED medications don’t increase sexual desire, so are not suitable for use by men with low libido. And ED drugs don’t generally work if there is low, or no sex drive.
Common causes of low sex drive in both men and women
Many factors can contribute to low libido. Although different things may turn men and women on, low sex drive can be caused by similar underlying factors for both men and women:
- Side effects of common medications
This is considered the number one cause of low sex drive in men, but it also affects many women. Many of the medications prescribed for common health complaints reduce sex drive, and in particular treatments for:
- High cholesterol.
- High blood pressure.
- Hay fever or sinus problems.
- Joint and muscle pain.
- Emotional health: Stress, fatigue and depression
Emotional health factors that can reduce sex drive in both men and women include:
- Financial insecurity.
- Traumatic events, like a job loss. These can reduce testosterone levels dramatically, sometimes adding years of physical aging in just a few months.
- The loss of a partner from death or divorce.
Fatigue or depression can result from:
- Chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease.
- High alcohol or drug consumption. Drinking moderately can enhance sex drive by providing a mutual time for partners to unwind and get in touch with each other (this is particularly true for women). However, heavy alcohol or drug use is disastrous for your sex drive, with doctors suggesting alcohol and drug consumption may be a bigger cause of low sex drive than the stress you are trying to escape.
- Hormone Imbalance
Both men and women undergo hormonal change in their middle age years. While opinions vary on whether there is such a thing as ‘male menopause’ or not, some men are more noticeably affected by age-related hormonal changes than others.
- Men:Low testosterone/ high oestrogen. An age-related drop in testosterone affects sex drive. A hormone imbalance of men over 40 can also result in a relative increase in oestrogen, leading to weight gain and a further reduction in libido. This metabolic merry-go-round can in turn lead to diabetes.
- Women:Changes in oestrogen and progesterone at This can reduce sex drive and reduce vaginal lubrication, making intercourse difficult or painful.
- Relationship issues
One of the myths of male sexuality is that nothing gets in the way of a man’s sex drive. The reality is that many men need to feel emotionally connected to feel sexual, just as women do.
5 specific causes of low sex drive in male
Low sex drive in men specifically can be caused by:
- Side effects of medication.
- Physical factors such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid disease.
- Alcoholism, smoking and drug abuse.
- Emotional issues such as stress, fatigue, anxiety or depression.
- Relationship conflict or distance.
2 specific causes of low sex drive in women
A woman’s sex drive can be affected by the same factors as a man’s, but is also likely to be compounded by her broader experience. This includes:
- Hormonal changes or imbalances.
- Psychological reasons, such as a poor body image or low self-esteem.
Desire discrepancy: How to increase sex drive
One of the most common reasons couples investigate how to increase their sex drive is when they experience mismatched libidos. This is when one partner’s sex drive regularly outpaces the other’s.
This experience is often referred to by sexual health professionals as ‘desire discrepancy’. Dr Rosie King’s book Good Loving Great Sex is an authoritative source on this issue, and is recommended reading for any couple that wishes to get and keep a great sex life.
Dr King says the result of desire discrepancy is something called the ‘pursuer-distancer cycle’: This is where one partner chases sexually and the other flees, which can lead to bitterness and blame on the part of both partners.
To help resolve this issue it’s important for the blame to stop. It’s difficult to re-establish intimacy until a willingness to put aside past hurts and mutually change behaviours and attitudes is reached.
How to get my sex drive back?
How to increase sex drive in Men?
In most cases – though not all – the man is more likely to be the pursuer, leading to his partner ‘fleeing’. If you or your partner thinks this may be the case, the man should make an effort to ease up a little and show more empathy and understanding.
By showing you care about your partner’s needs and comfort and are willing to work out an arrangement that makes both of you happy, you may notice an automatic increase in your partner’s sex drive just from this step alone. This will also help rebuild trust and closeness in your relationship – another vital step in helping bring balance to a couple’s sex drive.
Another great way to increase sex drive is to try simple lifestyle changes. These could include a better work/ life balance, getting regular exercise, relaxation and recreation time, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol or improving your diet. You may be surprised at the difference these can make.
For many men, a reduction in testosterone can be a key factor in lowered sex drive. Millions of men worldwide suffer from a loss of energy, diminished enthusiasm and reduced sex drive due to the lower levels of testosterone that accompany aging. One option to combat this is direct testosterone therapy, which is available in patches, injections, oral tablets and even time-release implants. Another option is supplements containing the herb Tribulus Terrestris, which helps lift testosterone levels by stimulating the body’s own natural production of the hormone.
Of course, few things are of more value than a willingness to communicate openly and work together to resolve issues of low sex drive and desire discrepancy. If you find taking the first step difficult, the services of a good relationship counsellor may help. Naturally, one of the best and most effective steps to take is early intervention. Whatever you do, don’t let the problem fester.
How to increase sex drive in Women?
Many women can find themselves playing the part of the so-called ‘distancer’ in sexual relationships. If you think this may be you, try to make an effort to show more overt physical affection. Demonstrate a willingness to make changes, which will encourage your partner to do the same. Above all, remember it’s vital to learn to negotiate sex in such a way that your partner feels you value them sexually and regard their sexual needs as important.
In her book The Bedroom Diaries, Australian sex therapist Bettina Arndt cites American sex therapist Michele Davis, who urges women to ‘just do it!’ Desire is a decision, she claims, suggesting that you can’t wait for it to come, you have to make it happen. In other words, don’t be afraid to schedule in sex!
Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about all the reasons your interest in sex has waned. After all, knowing won’t increase your sex drive, but doing something about it will!
The best treatment for low sex drive in women is a warm and intimate relationship built around a low level of conflict. This includes:
- Quality timespent with your partner.
- Good communication.
- Plenty of undemanding attention.
Women also need to take care of health and wellbeing
Next is to ensure you are taking care of your health by reducing stress, getting plenty of exercise and sleep and having your hormone levels checking – including thyroid function and iron deficiency anaemia. Here are some specific options to consider:
- Consider whether you may be suffering from low-level depression.If you are already on a SSRI antidepressant, consider switching medications to one that doesn’t interfere with your sex drive.
- Consider bio-identical hormone creams. Pharmaceutically compounded oestrogen, progesterone, estriol and testosterone can be prescribed for topical application to help increase female sex drive. Consult your doctor for a prescription that best suits you.
- Placingoestrogen directly into the vagina can soothe vaginal tissue and allow the secretions necessary for comfortable sex. It may even lead to an increase in sexual desire. Topically applied oestrogen is available as suppository tablets, creams, or ‘rings’, which sit inside the vagina and let off small doses of the hormone over time.
- Testosterone creams and gels can be applied to the vagina to increase sensation, or to the clitoris to increase orgasm.
- Vitamin E can be topically applied to the vagina to rehydrate tissue and possibly increase sensation. Or try a lubricant like Ignite Intimate Gel to help smooth things along.
Deal with relationship issues
Sydney sex therapist Dr Rosie King in her book Where Has My Libido Gone? offers comprehensive advice on how to overcome desire discrepancy. Couples who are trying to break the pattern of one partner being the initiator (pursuer) and the other the rejector (distance) by:
- Breaking the pursuer – distancer cycle.
- Accepting both partners need to change.
- Restoring regular sex once you’ve learned sexual negotiation techniques.
Restoring sex in a relationship will require:
- Open communication.
- A willingness to schedule regular dates.
- Making desire a conscious decision.
- Taking personal responsibility for your role in the relationship.
6 practical steps to boost your sex drive
It’s important to understand that low sex drive can be treated and it’s worth doing something about. If you are suffering from a loss of libido, take stock of your situation, talk to your doctor and your partner, and make a checklist of things you can do to start taking control and getting the joy of sex back in your life. Here is a summary of some initial options to consider:
- Make lifestyle changes to lose weight, reduce stress and get more sleep and exercise.
- Have a health examination to check for any underlying physical causes.
- Change your medication to see if your sex drive improves.
- Check hormone levels, particularly your levels of testosterone.
- Strengthen your relationship by making time for your partner and enjoying common interests together.
- Consider an herbal supplement like Herbal Ignite to help increase your sex drive.
How Herbal Ignite for Men and Women helps treat Low Sex Drive
Herbal Ignite for Men and Women are over-the-counter dietary supplements taken daily with food. They help boost energy levels and relieve fatigue and stress in both men and women. Herbal Ignite for Men also increase men’s health and libido, boosts testosterone (the key sex hormone in men) levels and improves nerve function and genital blood flow. Herbal Ignite for Women supports pre-menstrual tension and menopause, helps restore hormone levels to a healthy balance and improves libido.
The three key herbs in Ignite for Men – Tribulus Terrestris, Horny Goat Weed and Avena Sativa – have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to rejuvenate men’s sexual health. The herb Tribulus Terrestris, in particular, has also been found to naturally boost testosterone levels and is available in capsule form in herbal supplements like Herbal Ignite.
- Tribulus Terrestris lifts testosterone levels and improves sexual activity and muscular strength. It also generates male energy, confidence and stamina and men using Herbal Ignite report an improved sense of wellbeing. While Tribulus Terrestris supports and assists the body's natural production of testosterone it should be clearly understood that it is not a hormone supplement. By promoting the production of the body's own hormones, it works within the body's natural limits to help men achieve their strength and muscular potential. Tribulus Terrestris will not cause the body to indefinitely produce increasing amounts of testosterone – rather, it balances natural hormone levels.
- Horny Goat Weed increases desire and sexual performance. The active ingredients in this herb are PDE-5 inhibitors, which increase blood flow to the penis and help with better erections.
- Avena Sativa relieves stress and increases sexual desire. Many men notice a decline in sex drive and sexual strength because of the effects of stress and long working hours; this herb helps counter the effects of our tough modern lifestyle.
- Damiana is the key fatigue and stress fighter in Herbal Ignite for Women. Known as the ‘ultimate feel-good herb’ for women, it combats fatigue, relaxes the body, reduces stress and anxiety, lifts mood and enhances sexual response. It also helps balance female hormone levels, control hot flushes and is especially renowned for its libido enhancing qualities.
- Dong Quai is known as ‘the women’s herb’ or ‘female ginseng’ because it is recognised in traditional Asian medicine as an excellent all-purpose women’s herb. It is used to calm nerves, relieve anxiety and mood swings, aid in the treatment of various skin conditions, promote youthfulness, reduce stress and is also considered effective in treating cancer. It also helps restore hormonal balance, improve menstrual regularity and relieves PMS and hot flushes.
- Tribulus Terrestris is a general tonic that supports sex drive, ovulation and reproductive health. It also balances hormone levels, boosts vitality and sense of wellbeing.
- Horny Goat Weed has been used in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac to increase libido, improve sexual response and function and create a feeling of well-being during menopause. Horny Goat Weed has been used since ancient times to promote physical and mental energy. It stimulates libido by enhancing sexual response and orgasm, relieves symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, balances hormones, relieves stress and aids in the treatment of osteoporosis. Horny goat weed contains a flavonoid called Icariin that assists to increase nitric oxide levels relaxing genital muscles in men and women, promoting erections and orgasms. Horny goat weed influences the stress hormone cortisol to help relieve stress.
Herbal Ignite has been used successfully by thousands of men and women in New Zealand and Australia to help beat stress and fatigue, boost libido and sexual satisfaction. It is 100% natural and free of unpleasant side effects. It is made in New Zealand to the highest standards, with thorough testing and guarantees of no adulteration or undeclared ingredients.
Disclaimer. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and does not substitute for the advice provided by your medical professional. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.