Most often we think low libido is an issue reserved for older men and women, as well as married people with stagnant sex lives. The truth is, however, that low libido can affect people of all ages for a variety of reasons.
What is low libido?
This is the big question. You hear young people talking about having sex multiple times a day, while others brag about getting it in a couple times a week. Regardless of which camp you’re in, if you’re happy with your sex life then you have nothing to worry about.
For example, if you’re used to having sex five times a day and suddenly you’re down to once a day, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem. There are many reasons sexual frequency can change like work, stress, and getting comfortable with your current relationship. Hormones also tend to fluctuate throughout the month, which can cause ups and downs for both men and women. There are seasons where people are more interested in sex, and seasons when they’re not. For instance, if it’s really hot outside, sex drives tend to drop. On the flip side, when the temperature drops outside, it tends to, uh, “rise” inside, if you will.
The time to be concerned about your libido is if you have no interest in sex at all, or if a sudden drop in your sex drive is causing issues in your relationship.
Low Libido in Women
People often try to tell women that low libido is all in their head, but that’s not always the case. Yes, stress and depression can affect your sex drive, but there are physical factors as well.
Physical things that can lead to low libido in women are:
- Menstrual cycle (Some women get horny and some don’t want to be touched)
- Hormone fluctuations during PMS
Low Libido in Men
It’s a common myth that young men cannot experience low libido. In fact, the idea that men are so incredibly virile when they’re young can make having a low sex drive a big source of embarrassment. In reality, however, it’s much more common than people think – even in younger men — thanks to a host of mental and physical issues.
Physical causes of low libido in men:
- Low testosterone
- Hormone fluctuations (Yes, men have hormone fluctuations too.)
- Pregnancy (Some men’s hormones are affected by being around pregnant women, which can lead to a decrease in sex drive.)
- Restless Leg Syndrome – Men with RLS are 50% more likely to have erectile dysfunction than those without
Physical and mental issues that affect both men and women:
- Certain medications such as anti-depressants or anti-seizure medications
- Medical conditions such as cancer, arthritis (yes, young people can have arthritis), diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, neurological disease, seizures
- Chronic illness
- Sleep apnea
- Poor body image
- Low self-esteem
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- History of negative sexual experiences
- Relationship issues
- Fighting with your family, friends, or partner
- Poor communication with your partner
How to Fix It
Although low libido has many causes, there also many treatments. It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor about possible causes of low libido to see if there is a physical problem you can be treated for. They may test your hormone levels or look to see if it is a symptom of some underlying issue. If non-physical issues are causing your low libido, it may be a good idea to see a counselor, as improving your mental health can improve your sex life, as well as your life in general.
No matter what the reason, you should talk to your partner about what’s going on. Let them know you’re embarrassed and insecure about this, as there are things they can do to help make going through it a bit easier.
Talking to Your Partner
The only way your partner can help you get through this is if you communicate with them. They have no way of knowing what you’re going through unless you tell them. Here are a few important things to communicate to your partner about your low libido:
- Rejection of their sexual advances is not about them
- Your preference on who initiates
- Things they can do to help you feel sexier and more in the mood
- Your insecurities about having low libido
- Share when you’re having a bad day
- Tell them if you’re OK with them talking to other people about it or not
- Explain that low libido can also cause depression and anxiety
What to do is just as important as what not to do. Here are some tips to help you and your partner navigate the waters of low sex drive.
- Don’t nag about having sex. There is nothing sexy about bugging someone to have sex with you. It just makes people feel bad.
- Don’t stop having sex. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. Having sex increases sex drive, so if your drive is low, try having sex to increase it. If you’re having erectile issues, remember that there are a lot of ways you can satisfy your partner without penetration. Feeling sexually connected to your partner is important, so make an effort to give them some physical attention.
- Don’t tease someone for having a low sex drive. For a lot of men, their masculinity is tied to their sex drive so this can be a real emotional sore spot for them.
- Talk to your partner about how their low libido is affecting you. It’s OK to feel frustrated or sad about their issue. It might be their body, but it affects you too.
- Discuss initiating sex. When your libido is low, you often don’t initiate sex as aggressively. Communicate with your partner what initiating looks like from your point of view. Is it a long kiss or a long hug? Is it getting playful? Let them know so they don’t miss the signs.
Low libido can affect any of us, at any age. No matter how young or old you are, it’s not something anyone likes or wants to face, but you can get through it if you communicate with your partner.