Loss of libido (sex drive) is a common problem that affects many men and women at some point in their life. It's often linked to relationship issues, stress or tiredness, but can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, such as reduced hormone levels.
Everyone's sex drive is different – there's no such thing as a "normal" libido. But if you find your lack of desire for sex distressing or it's affecting your relationship, it's a good idea to get help.
Common causes of a low libido:
One of the first things to consider is whether you're happy in your relationship. Do you have any doubts or worries that could be behind your loss of sexual desire? A low libido can be the result of:
Being in a long-term relationship and becoming over familiar with your partner.
Loss of sexual attraction.
Unresolved conflict and frequent arguments.
Difficulty trusting each other.
Physical sexual problems.
Stress, anxiety and exhaustion
Stress, anxiety and exhaustion can be all-consuming and have a major impact on your happiness, including your sex drive. If you feel you're constantly tired, stressed or anxious, you may need to make some lifestyle changes or speak to your GP for advice.
Depression is very different from simply feeling unhappy, miserable or fed up for a short while. It's a serious illness that interferes with all aspects of your life, including your sex life. It's important to see your GP if you think you might be depressed. They can advise you about the main treatments for depression, such as talking therapies or antidepressants.
Getting older and the menopause
A reduced sex drive isn't an inevitable part of ageing, but it's something many men and women experience as they get older. There can be many reasons for this, including:
Falling levels of sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) just before, during and after the menopause in women.
Falling levels of sex hormones (testosterone) in men.
Age-related health problems, including mobility problems.
Side effects of medication.
Alcohol and drugs
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period can reduce your sex drive, so it's a good idea not to drink too much. Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 alcohol units a week on a regular basis.
Where to get help and advice
Your GP – they may be able to offer some helpful advice, or refer you to a specialist for an assessment and treatment.
A psychosexual therapist – your GP may be able to refer you on the NHS, or you could pay to see a therapist privately.
A contraception and sexual health (CASH) clinic.
The Sexual Advice Association – a sexual health charity that has online factsheets about sex problems and a helpline on 020 7486 7262
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