If your sex drive has taken a nose dive and you’re not feeling it between the sheets, it can have a detrimental effect on your relationship, your mood and your self-esteem. Don’t dismay, dry spells in the bedroom are perfectly normal, especially if you’ve been with your partner for a long time.
We speak to Dr Roger Henderson, GP, men’s health expert and author of Over 50’s Men’s Health Check, and Samantha Evans, sexual health and pleasure expert and co-founder of Jo Divine, about how to diagnose, treat and boost your diminishing libido - so you can get back in the bedroom:
How common is low libido for men?
It’s perfectly normal to experience libido fluctuations throughout your adult life. From health conditions to addiction, exhaustion or relationship concerns, sexual desire can diminish for a number of reasons and lack of sex drive (or low libido) is a common problem which affects most men at some point during their lives.
That said, a floundering libido can still be frustrating—especially if it’s difficult to ascertain why your sex drive has taken a nose dive in the first place. There are numerous factors that play a role in why you might be feeling less than sexy, and an unexpected loss of libido can indicate an underlying personal, medical or lifestyle problem. But the good news is in most cases it can be treated easily.
What is a normal sex drive for men?
Surprisingly, there is no such thing as a normal sex drive. ‘Libido is a very individual response and what is normal will differ from person to person,’ says Dr Henderson. 'Libido can be affected by a number of factors, including: stress, relationship issues, medical conditions, psychological problems, medication, hormonal changes and fatigue, to name just a few.’
Fortunately, there are lots of organisations available to offer advice, help you resolve your issues and get you back in the sack. The most important thing is not to feel embarrassed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help'
The physical causes of low libido
A number of underlying health conditions can impact your sex drive, including the following:
- Heart disease
- Under-active thyroid gland
- Drug addiction
- Prescription medication
If your lack of sexual desire is causing you distress, affecting your relationship, or you're concerned it may be related to a more serious health issue, make an appointment to see your GP to discuss possible treatments.
‘Low sex drive or erectile difficulties affect the majority of men at some point in their lives between the ages of 40-70, and although this can sometimes be linked to relationship problems, or ageing, it can also be caused by health conditions,’ explains Dr Henderson.
The psychological causes of low libido
A number of psychological factors can impact your sex drive, including the following:
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship concerns
- Mental health problems such as depression or anxiety
- Uncertainty about sexual orientation
‘Where there is no underlying medical condition, changes in libido can be helped by making positive lifestyle choices such as stopping smoking, getting enough rest, keeping stress to a minimum, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly,’ says Dr Henderson.
‘I’d encourage anyone who may be experiencing problems with their sex drive to talk honestly with your partner, and to speak to a GP if you have any concerns.’
Is sex drive connected to testosterone?
Your testosterone levels, which are at their highest in your late teens and progressively decline from your 40s onwards, can be linked to your libido.
‘Testosterone Deficiency (TD) is more common than people realise, affecting around 1 in 3 men over 45, but the symptoms, of which a decrease in libido is one, are often passed off as signs of simply getting older,’ says Dr Henderson.
‘Testosterone is a crucial hormone that helps us to maintain a healthy sex drive and does decline naturally with age, but TD is a recognised medical condition that occurs when the levels of hormone in the body reduce below normal levels.
‘The condition can also be responsible for other symptoms like fatigue, poor concentration, low mood, weight gain and reduced strength and endurance,’ he adds. ‘Although many people may not have heard of TD, it can be easily diagnosed with a blood test, and a healthcare professional will be able to advise on the range of treatments available.’
How to increase your sex drive
You can take steps to boost your flagging libido by ensuring you get enough sleep, managing your stress levels, following a healthy diet and (most importantly!) speaking to your significant other. Evans recommends the following ways to give your love life a leg-up:
• Communication is key
Talking about the problem can be difficult and many couples are unsure how to broach the subject without upsetting or offending their partner.
• Avoid the blame game
Avoid apportioning blame or getting angry, instead broach the subject by saying “I miss having sex with you and I wondered how you feel about it?” This can open up the discussion by making your partner feel that you still want them and not make them feel like they have failed you.
• Consider couples therapy
If you think your dwindling sex drive might be linked to your relationship, counselling could help. Sex therapists can offer practical help and advice which could be just the springboard to bounce your sex life back onto the right track.
Whatever you do, don’t put up with your symptoms, seek help. It may be something simple that can be resolved to help you reclaim your sex life.
Sex and relationship resources
For additional help and support, try one of the following resources:
- NHS.UK: to check for any medical issues or be referred to a therapist, visit you local GP or local sexual health centre.
- College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists: find therapists that are able to work with any relationship or sexual issues on this directory.
- Sexual Advice Association: A charity which aims to help improve the sexual health and wellbeing of men and women.
- The Institute of Psychosexual Medicine: The IPM is a registered charity which provides education, training and research in psychosexual medicine.
- Relate: Relationship counselling support for couples and families.
- Marriage Care - Marriage guidance and support.
Last updated: 10-10-19