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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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, or no, sex drive is not the same thing as erectile dysfunction (impotence):
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:
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:
Emotional health factors that can reduce sex drive in both men and women include:
Fatigue or depression can result from:
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.
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.
Low sex drive in men specifically can be caused by:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
Restoring sex in a relationship will require:
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:
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.
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.
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