The libido or sexual desire is the desire to engage in sexual activity. Sexual desire can occur spontaneously or in response to a partner, pictures or thoughts.
The intensity of desire depends on various factors such as the quality of the relationship, physical health, psychological state or events that punctuate life (pregnancy, bereavement, work stress, etc.). Decreased sexual desire is one of the many sexual dysfunctions that men and women experience at any time in their lives.
A drop in libido becomes problematic when it worries the person or his partner and affects the relationship. However, this state does not always affect the ability to have sex.
Causes of low libido
Sexual desire is a complex interaction of many factors, including physical and emotional well-being, life experiences, rhythm of life, and intimate relationships.
A decline in sexual desire may have a physical cause such as:
- A sexual problem, such as pain during intercourse or an inability to reach orgasm.
- A sickness. Many diseases can affect sexual desire, such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), depression or neurological diseases.
- The effects of a drug. Several medications, such as certain antidepressants (eg paroxetine such as Paxil or Pexeva, and fuoxetine like Prozac and Sarafem) often decrease sexual desire. Other drugs for the treatment of prostate problems or hair loss, or to regulate blood pressure can affect the libido.
|If you take medication and you feel a decrease in sexual desire, start by reading the side effects of your medicine on your package leaflet.|
- A surgery. Surgery related to the breasts or genitals can affect self-image, sexual function and sexual desire.
- Alcohol or drugs. Abuse of alcohol or certain drugs can affect libido.
- Tiredness. Excess fatigue, such as caring for elderly parents or young children, can affect sexual desire.
- Menopause. During the transition to menopause, women’s estrogen levels drop. This can cause vaginal dryness, so painful or uncomfortable sex can cause sexual avoidance. However, if after the menopause, the ovaries secrete very little estrogen, they continue to secrete relatively large amounts of androgens (testosterone …) which sometimes explains the appearance of some unsightly hair on the face at this age. Nevertheless, this androgen level becomes lower than before menopause, which may be reflected in a decrease in sexual desire.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, as well as after delivery and breastfeeding may affect sexual desire. Not only hormones, but fatigue, body changes and the stress of a new baby’s birth can affect sexual desire.
- Prolactin. Abnormal elevation of prolactin (a hormone responsible for, among other things, triggering and maintaining lactation) blocks sexual desire in both men and women.
- A low testosterone. In men, testosterone is produced in the testes. This hormone is essential for maintaining bone density, fat distribution, muscle mass, red blood cell production, sperm production and sexual desire. As you age, testosterone decreases gradually (about 1% per year after age 30). Sometimes, testosterone can decrease very significantly with age (Age-related Androgenic Deficit or ALPD). A drop in testosterone may also be due to a disease (eg hypogonadism).
- The contraceptive pill. Contraceptive pill use tends to decrease libido in 20 to 40% of women, because it decreases the amount of testosterone circulating in the blood in women.
A decline in sexual desire can have a psychological cause, such as:
- Sexual abuse in childhood
- Intense stress related to a financial situation or work.
- Low self-esteem
- A conflictual relationship (lack of communication, unresolved conflicts, infidelity, lack of trust in his partner).
Symptoms of desire decline
- An unexplained and prolonged disappearance of sexual desire.
- Sometimes, a systematic repulsion for sexual activities. This symptom manifests itself especially in case of psychological blockage.
People at risk for low libido
- Age. The decline in sexual desire can occur at any age, but it is more common as the man or woman ages.
Risk factors of lack of desire
- Couples living marital conflict.
- People do not feel respected by their partner.
- People suffering from chronic illness.
- People with serious worries (unemployment, accident of life, serious illness of a relative, death in the entourage …)
- People abusing pornographic images.
Prevention of the decline of desire
|Basic preventive measures|
|In order to maintain sexual desire and increase pleasure during intercourse:
Hormonal therapies are used when the loss of libido is caused by a hormonal problem.
In men, a low libido caused by a low testosterone, can be treated by a replacement therapy of testosterone. A blood sample is used to check the testosterone level.
Testosterone is available as a once-daily patch in the back, abdomen, arm, or thighs, in gel (applied to the skin once a day), as an injection (administered by a doctor at intervals of 3 or 4 weeks) or in capsules.
Testosterone therapies have some side effects and risks that include acne, decreased sperm production, fluid retention and prostate volume stimulation. They are effective on desire disorders only in 1 in 3 men. On the other hand, this treatment should be handled with care because it is a treatment for life. Once set up, it slows down the natural production of testosterone by the testicles, which supposes that at the end of the treatment, this secretion would be further reduced, whereas it was already insufficient.
Testosterone also plays a role in women’s sexual function even though it is found in much smaller amounts. The testosterone treatments in women are controversial as they can cause several side effects.
Some women may be given estrogen (gel, pills or patches). This treatment can have a positive effect on the brain functions and mood that affect the sexual response. However this type of therapy can increase the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
Lower doses of estrogen may be administered as vaginal creams, slow-release suppositories or a ring placed in the vagina. These drugs manage to increase the blood flow in the vagina and help increase desire without the risks associated with estrogen absorption.
When the desire disorder is due to a very high prolactin level, a balance is needed, with appropriate treatment.
Change of medication
When the loss of libido is caused by a medication, your doctor can, most of the time, prescribe another one.
Lifestyle changes and therapies
When the loss of libido has a psychological cause, it can be treated by changes in one’s lifestyle and by techniques that help to develop one’s sexuality.
- Exercises. Regular aerobic and power exercises can improve endurance, self-image, and mood and boost libido.
- Reduce stress. Finding solutions to cope with financial stress, work-related stress or daily hassle can stimulate sexual desire.
- Communicate with your partner. Couples who learn to communicate in an honest and open relationship usually maintain stronger bonds that lead to safer sex. Talking about one’s sexual preferences can also improve intimate relationships.
- Plan a little privacy. Although planning sex on the calendar may seem unnatural and boring, making intimate periods a priority can help regain sexual desire.
- Add spice to your sex life. Try different sexual positions, different places or times of day, if you and your partner agree.
- The advice of a therapist can help to understand the cause of the decline in sexual desire. These therapies usually include lessons on sexual response, techniques and recommendations for reading, as well as exercises to do as a couple.
- Very often, the loss of libido is due to profound disorders. A depression, a difficult experience in childhood, a traumatic death, sexual assault, rape … In this case, therapy work will be essential to revive the momentum, because the libido is linked to this momentum …
|Does Viagra increase libido?
Medications such as sildenafil citrate (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra) help men achieve an erection by increasing blood flow to the penis. They do not stimulate the sexual appetite and are not useful for treating a weak libido. However, in men anxious about the fear of erectile failure, these drugs can restore a very beneficial confidence to revive the libido.