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Chronic low libido impacts men and women of all ages. More formally known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), the condition is estimated to affect nearly 20% of adult men and 30% of women. Though levels of sexual desire fall within a range and naturally fluctuate over time, a perpetually low sex drive may ultimately take a toll on one’s self-esteem and intimate relationships.
Is hypoactive sexual desire disorder affecting your life? Read on to learn more about common causes and potential treatment options.
Low Sexual Desire: Common Causes
Why is your libido low? This question can be tricky to answer! Physical, mental, and emotional factors can all impact one’s level of desire.
Hormones are one physical factor often contributing to HSDD. In men, a lack of testosterone (defined as levels under 350 ng/dL) is often associated with low libido. Low or fluctuating hormone levels often affect the female libido as well. Certain medications, such as beta blockers and antidepressants, may also influence hormone levels and correspondingly affect sexual desire.
Age-related hormonal changes often cause libido issues for senior men and women. As a result of falling testosterone levels, men entering their 60s may begin experiencing sexual dysfunction and decreased levels of desire. Estrogen and testosterone production also decline as women enter menopause, affecting both the reproductive system and the libido.
Other health conditions may also cause or worsen HSDD. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid problems, and other chronic illnesses are often associated with falling levels of sexual desire.
Poor mental or emotional well-being can also significantly worsen one’s libido. Depression, stress, anxiety, and fatigue are among the most common causes of low sexual desire. Relationship problems, such as communication and trust issues, may also be stifling your sex drive.
Which of these factors is having the most significant impact on your libido? By taking a holistic approach to your health and pursuing a number of treatment options, you can likely find a solid solution.
Treating Low Libido
There are just as many techniques for treating low libido as there are causes. In general, working to improving sexual desire is a process of trial and error. A solution that works well for one individual may not work for someone else.
In nearly all individuals, positive lifestyle changes can assist in boosting the sex drive. Abandoning bad habits, such as smoking and drinking heavily, and committing to healthy practices, such as eating healthy meals and exercising regularly, are almost guaranteed to have a positive impact on one’s well-being. Taking care of one’s mental health through therapy and stress-reduction practices like yoga and meditation can also work wonders for the body and mind. Be honest with yourself, too. Is your current relationship a happy and healthy one? If not, your relationship might actually be the source of your problems.
If you suspect that hormones are impacting your levels of sexual desire, talk to your doctor. Though hormone production decreases in both sexes with age, chronically low levels of hormones like testosterone may be able to be treated with supplements. Many men find that taking testosterone significantly improves their libidos.
Hormone therapy may also be used to treat female libido dysfunction. Estrogen is often used to improve menopausal symptoms and conditions such as vaginal atrophy. The hormone, however, does not directly improve HSDD symptoms. Some women experience relief by taking small amounts of testosterone. The hormone, however, can result in side effects ranging from acne to mood swings, and should therefore be taken with caution.
Numerous medications may also cause sexual side effects. Antidepressants like fluoxetine and paroxetine, for instance, are known for dampening sexual desire. If you take a number of pills or have noticed a change in your levels of desire since starting a new medication, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options.
Recent research seems to indicate that other hormones and neurotransmitters also play a major role in sexual health and desire. When taken as a supplement, DHEA, a neurotransmitter that helps produce testosterone in the body, may boost the female sex drive. Drugs like bupropion, which increase the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, while decreasing others, such as serotonin, show promise as treatment options, particularly for women. Such treatments may become more mainstream in the years to come.
If these treatment options don’t work for you, consult your doctor for other options. Studies suggest that other practices and treatments, such as acupuncture, may be effective for some HSDD sufferers. By being persistent and doing your research, you can find a treatment option that works for you.
Many, many factors play a role in regulating one’s sex drive. Combatting low libido may therefore require a certain amount of patience as one seeks a lasting remedy. By living a healthy lifestyle and pursuing a variety of treatment options, however, many individuals can successfully boost their levels of sexual desire. Talk to your doctor to discover more ways to improve your libido and overall sexual health.
Photo: fotolia.com / © Lorelyn Medina