Low Libido in Men
The number one reason patients schedule a visit to my practice is that they experience sexual problems of some kind.
“I think there might be a problem with my libido” is a concern I hear about on a daily basis. Low libido can be described as a decrease or a lack of desire for sexual activity. Both men and women can suffer from hypoactive sexual desire disorder (low libido) from time to time, but since June is the month for celebrating fathers, we will focus on the causes and management of male low libido.
As mentioned, low libido describes a decrease of interest in sexual activity. It is important to understand that it is perfectly normal to lose interest in sex from time to time. It is also normal for you and your partner’s libido to be out of sync sometimes. But if the decrease or total lack of interest in sexual activity persists over an extended period of time, it may be an indicator that something is wrong. Let’s go through the most common causes of low libido in men.
Drop in Testosterone levels
Testosterone is the quintessential male hormone. It is what ‘makes men men’. It is common for testosterone levels to drop as you age, but if the drop is drastic it may cause low libido as well as erectile dysfunction. Low testosterone does not only cause havoc in your sex life but it can cause depression, diabetes, an increase in risk of cardiovascular disease as well as a drop in your bone density. So if you are worried about your testosterone levels, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
We all have to deal with stress on a daily basis. But ongoing stress can cause your cortisol levels to skyrocket. Cortisol plays a vital role in modulating the immune system, regulating blood sugar, and keeping your blood pressure steady. However, high levels of cortisol can suppress the production of testosterone. And low testosterone equals low libido.
When you’re not feeling well you won’t be in the mood to get groovy. But there are certain conditions that can have serious effects on your sex life. Diabetes are one of the most common chronic conditions globally. Diabetes not only affects your testosterone but it can also affect the small blood vessels and tiny nerves within the penis. If those blood vessels and nerves are damaged it can result in erectile dysfunction. That said, any condition that affects the nerves or blood vessels of the penis can cause erectile dysfunction and the stress alone of ‘getting it up’ can cause low libido. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, prostate problems, depression, cancer… the list of chronic conditions affecting libido is a long one. Basically, any chronic illness can have an influence on your sex life.
We know that chronic illnesses are common, and that means a lot of men are taking medication to deal with these conditions. But some of these drugs can take their toll on your libido. The most common culprits are high blood pressure medication, especially diuretics and beta blockers, antidepressants and antihistamines. Don’t suffer in silence. If you feel that your medication may be affecting your libido, talk to you doctor to find out if there might be a more sex-friendly option for you.
So what’s next?
I understand it can be very difficult to talk about sexual problems, especially for men. But low libido is not just about sex. As mentioned, it may indicate that something is very wrong. The good news is that low libido can be managed.
The first step is to find out the cause. If it is purely due to low testosterone, your doctor can start you on testosterone replacement therapy. But it is very important to understand that testosterone replacement may suppress testicular function resulting in infertility. So generally testosterone replacement are for older men who have completed their families. If your testosterone is low and you are below the age of 40, you should rather consider addressing the cause of the low testosterone. If your sexual problems are a result of an underlying illness it is important to manage that condition optimally. Your sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels should be the best it can be.
In general you can boost your libido by following thes steps:
- Follow a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
- Manage your stress better
- Exercise three times a week