Low libido: What causes it and how to treat it

By Mosh

23 June 2021

minute read

Man lying on bed

When it comes to men and sex, popular culture paints a picture that doesn't always match what really happens behind closed doors.

Take libido, a.k.a sex drive, for example. It’s often said that men have raging libidos and they’re always in the mood to get it on. But if you chat to everyday guys, they’ll tell you that’s more of a Hollywood stereotype.

Levels of libido exist on a spectrum, from no desire for sex at all to wanting sex often. And what constitutes a normal sex drive differs for everyone. If you’re finding your lack of desire for sex is distressing or it's affecting your relationship, it's a good idea to seek professional advice.

Causes of low libido

Libido naturally declines with age. The degree of this decline varies, but most men maintain at least some amount of sexual interest into their 60s and 70s. Aside from age, there are a plethora of other causes for why your sex drive has taken a dive. Sometimes it’s due to one factor, but often it’s a combination of factors.

  • Relationship difficulties – Conflict in relationships is a common cause of low libido. And when conflict isn’t to blame, other issues such as loss of sexual attraction, becoming overfamiliar with your partner, poor communication, lack of trust and physical sexual problems (such as erectile difficulties) can all play a part.
  • Stress and sleep difficulties – Stress not only reduces your interest in sex mentally, it has a physical effect too. Increased cortisol levels as a result of stress constricts blood vessels, contributing to erectile dysfunction. It can also cause a sharp drop in testosterone, which lowers libido.
  • Stress is also linked to insomnia and other sleep diffiulties, which can increase the risk of fatigue and leave you less interested in sex. Not only that, but testosterone levels can decrease as a result of sleep restriction, further contributing to a drop in libido.
  • Depression – Being depressed can cause you feel tired, unmotivated, sad and want to withdraw from activities, including sex.
  • Low self esteem – If you have low self-esteem when it comes to your body image, it may be affecting your desire to have sex. It may also cause anxiety about sexual performance, which can lead to further issues like erectile dysfunction.
  • Chronic illness – The pain and fatigue associated with many chronic illnesses can take a toll on your sex drive. This is especially true for conditions such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, fibromyalgia, obesity and kidney failure.

    Aside from this, chronic illness may also directly interfere with hormonal, neurological, or vascular functions central to the male sex drive. There is also a higher risk of depression in people who live with chronic illnesses.

  • Certain medicationsSome medicines can reduce libido, including high blood pressure medications (beta blockers and diuretics); some antidepressants; antipsychotics; medicines for an enlarged prostate; medicines for prostate cancer; chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer; opioid pain relievers; an antifungal medication called ketoconazole; and anabolic steroids.
  • Low testosterone – While low testerone is common in older men, it can occur in younger men too. For younger men, a drop in testosterone levels can be caused by chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Depression, fatigue and reduced muscle tone often accompany low testosterone too.
  • Erectile dysfunction and ejaculation problems – These issues can make sex unfulfilling and anxiety causing, which can ultimately affect your desire to have sex. Learn more about how we can help with ED and PE here.
  • Lifestyle factors
    • Drugs and alcohol – Excessive or chronic drinking can result in reduced testosterone levels and a lower libido. It’s thought chronic alcohol misuse damages the Leydig cells in your testes, which are responsible for testosterone production. Research also shows that drug use in men is associated with a lower sex drive and more erectile difficulties than non-drug users.
    • Too much or too little exerciseResearch has shown that chronic intense and greater durations of endurance training on a regular basis is significantly associated with a decreased libido in men. Conversely, too little exercise (or none at all) can lead to a range of health problems that can affect sexual desire and arousal.
    • Obesity – Being very overweight can lower sexual satisfaction and cause erectile dysfunction. It also directly impairs metabolism and hormone function, resulting in significantly reduced total and free testosterone.
    • Smoking – This habit is associated with erectile dysfunction and has been shown to diminish a man’s sexual desire and satisfaction, even in young men.
  • Traumatic experiences – Sexual harassment or sexual abuse can lessen sexual desire.

How to treat low libido

  • Lifestyle changes – If your loss of libido can be linked to poor lifestyle habits, the most obvious place to start is with lifestyle changes. Do away with all the fat-laden take-away food and opt for a clean diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. If you’re a smoker, quit, and if you’re a heavy drinker, cut back on the booze. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that an average adult male should have two or less alcoholic drinks per day.

    When it comes to exercise, moderate exercise is known to lower cortisol levels at night and reduce stress, which can help increase sex drive. It will also help keep your weight under control and improve your mood, helping to boost your self-image.

    Lastly, prioritise sleep. Aim for at least 7–9 hours of sleep per night for optimal energy levels.

  • Stress management – To relieve stress, consider mindfulness meditation, participating in sports activities or doing yoga. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, can help your mind become more capable, focused and clear, enabling you to better handle stressful and demanding situations.
  • Counselling – If you and your partner are dissatisfied with your sex life, couples therapy is an option. You’ll learn: communication skills to improve the overall quality of your relationship; how to improve intimacy and affection without having sex; startegies to boost your sex drive; and more.

    If depression, anxiety or low self-esteem are at play, it may be best to seek out your own counsellor or psychologist who can help you manage your symptoms.

    Get in touch with a Mosh psychologist.

  • Treat underlying medical conditions or change your medication – Speak to a doctor if you have any medical conditions that aren’t being treated and may be contributing to your low libido, such as sleep apnoea (a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts).

    And if you’re taking a medication that’s negatively affecting your libido, chat to your doctor about an alternative option or a change in the dose of your existing medication.

  • Hormone therapy – If you suspect your testosterone levels are low and lifestyle changes haven’t improved your situation, visit your doctor. Testosterone levels are easy to check with a blood test, and if you’re in the low range, testosterone therapy may be an option.
  • Try a natural supplement – If serious medical conditions have been ruled out and you’re simply in need of a natural boost, Mosh’s Energy Libido supplement supports energy levels and enhances sexual function. Active ingredients include:

    Tribulus terrestris – An aphrodisiac that maintains healthy sexual function and promotes a healthy libido in males.

    Zinc – Supports testosterone levels, sperm health, and maintains healthy reproductive hormones in healthy males. Zinc also aids in protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism in the body. Vitamin B6 – Maintains energy levels and relieves fatigue when dietary intake is inadequate.

So, as you can see, lack of interest in sex can be caused by many things.

If your low libido is linked to issues with ED, chat to a Mosh doctor for advice.

If it’s more related to PE, our doctors can help with that too.

Or, if you feel counselling and stress management is more what you need, get in touch with a Mosh psychologist.

Tags: ed pe sex