Read below about decreased sex drive, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your decreased sex drive from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

This symptom can also be referred to as:
Decreased libido

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Decreased Sex Drive Symptoms

Decreased sex drive, also known as loss of libido or hypoactive sexual disorder, means you have little to no desire for sexual activity. You may find that you rarely spend any time thinking about or fantasizing about sex. Desire for sex varies widely among individuals, of course, but a near-complete loss of interest becomes a problem if you once had a normal sexual life, feel distressed about this loss of interest, or it begins to impact your partner.

A drop in sex drive is not unusual if you also have an illness, serious stressor, or depression. In one sense, it's nature's way of keeping you from starting a pregnancy or a relationship when you're not physically or emotionally ready to do so. That is why loss of interest in normal activities almost always carries over into decreased sex drive. However, in most cases your normal desire for sex will return once the underlying problem is corrected.

Characteristics:

  • Change in frequency of sex or masturbation
  • Partner noticing a change in sex habits
  • Lack of interest in sex, sexual images, or other items that would normally lead to arousal

Duration:

  • Decreased sex drive due to a time-limited condition, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, or stress may go back to normal once those conditions are resolved.
  • *If it is due to other illness or stress, however, it rarely corrects itself but will go on until your underlying cause is addressed.

Who is most often affected by decreased sex drive symptoms?

  • Women are most often affected since they experience the effects of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause.
  • Men can experience loss of libido, too, usually from obesity, illness, or medication.

When is a decreased sex drive most likely to occur?

  • Decreased sex drive is most prevalent in people over age 50.
  • However, even a person well-advanced in age can still desire physical intimacy with a partner. Loss of libido is not an inevitable part of aging.

Is a decreased sex drive serious?

  • Sudden loss of sexual function or desire can be a sign of underlying illness – either physical or psychological – that should be treated.
  • In any case, sexuality is a normal part of life, and anything that interferes with it will soon affect your marriage or other romantic relationship. If you are distressed over the loss of sexual functioning, it is important to get treatment so that quality of life is not affected.

Decreased Sex Drive Causes Overview

Many conditions can have decreased sex drive as a symptom. The most common are those involving hormone imbalances, followed by emotional and psychological issues. Sometimes an illness and/or a certain medication can be a direct cause.

Hormone-related decreased sex drive causes:

  • Pregnancy.
  • The post-partum period, which means the weeks and months immediately following childbirth – especially if breastfeeding.
  • Menopause.
  • Thyroid disorders, which affect metabolism and the production of sex hormones.
  • Low testosterone in men.

Physical decreased sex drive causes:

  • Underlying illness may cause loss of sexual response.
  • Side effects of medication often interfere with sexual response, especially high blood pressure medicines, antiseizure drugs, and antidepressants.
  • Obesity can interfere with normal hormone balance, as well as make sexual activity difficult or even impossible.
  • There may be pain or discomfort during sex for physical reasons, such as vaginal dryness in women.

Lifestyle decreased sex drive causes:

  • Alcohol use.
  • Illicit drug use.
  • Smoking.
  • Poor diet.
  • Poor sleep habits.
  • Marijuana

Emotional and psychological decreased sex drive causes:

  • Difficulty with an ongoing relationship.
  • The stress of a divorce, or of dealing with a relationship that otherwise ends.
  • Generalized anxiety.
  • There may seem to be no clear reason for the decreased sex drive, which will be stressful in itself.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Decreased Sex Drive

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced decreased sex drive. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck, no longer produces adequate levels of hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for many bodily functions including breathing, heart rate, and metabolism.

    Most cases of hypothyroidism require lifelong hormone replacement therapy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Premenstrual Syndrome

    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a very common condition. PMS has a variety of symptoms including cramping, mood swings, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, breast tenderness & depression.

    Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome can last all the way into menopause.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    stomach bloating, anxiety, constipation, depressed mood, breast pain
    Symptoms that never occur with premenstrual syndrome:
    constant sadness, severe sadness, disapearance of periods for over a year
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.High Prolactin Hormone Level

    Hyperprolactinemia is a common hormonal disorder in which there are higher than normal levels of prolactin in the blood.

    Depending on the severity of illness, therapy ranges from watchful waiting to medication or surgery.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, vaginal bleeding, irregular period, decreased sex drive, enlargement of breasts
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Late Onset Hypogonadism

    In the male body, the testicles produce a sex hormone called testosterone. In the adult man, testosterone affects fertility, libido, mental and physical energy levels, muscle strength, and general well being. Late-onset hypogonadism refers to a condition where not enough testosterone is produced after puberty has already passed (hence the name late-onset).

    Outlook depends on underlying cause, but hormone therapy is highly effective.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, depressed mood, irritability
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  5. 5.Depression

    Depression is a mental disorder in which a person feels constantly sad, hopeless, discouraged, and loses interest in activities and life on more days than not. These symptoms interfere with daily life, work, and friendships.

    Depression's course is highly variable, and it may last weeks, months, or years.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, headache, anxiety, irritability
    Symptoms that always occur with depression:
    depressed mood
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Mild Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)

    Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder, is a form of depression that is chronic. The causes of dysthymia are complex, and often are a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors. Dysthymia can interfere with everyday life, and people with this condition report feeling loss of interest in their daily activities, sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of energy.

    Dysthymia can last indefinitely.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, irritability, difficulty concentrating, impaired social or occupational functioning
    Symptoms that always occur with mild chronic depression (dysthymia):
    depressed mood
    Symptoms that never occur with mild chronic depression (dysthymia):
    severe sadness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)

    Anxiety is a common emotion from time to time; however, persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worrying are signs of generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person worries more days than not for at least six months and has symptoms like fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

    With long-term care, symptoms can be controlled with talk therapy, medication, and self-care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, general anxiety (stress), irritability, nausea
    Symptoms that always occur with generalized anxiety disorder (gad):
    general anxiety (stress)
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Pregnancy - or Childbirth Related Depression

    Depression is a mental disorder in which a person feels constantly sad, hopeless, discouraged, guilty, and loses interest in activities and life on more days than not. These symptoms interfere with daily life, taking care of your baby, work, and friendships. Postpartum or peripartum depression occurs in mothers or future mothers and is linked to pregnancy and childbirth.

    Depression's course is highly variable, and it may last weeks, months, or years. Therapy and/or medication can be highly beneficial.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impaired social or occupational functioning
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Decreased Sex Drive Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if you feel very depressed or even suicidal.

Schedule an appointment for:

  • Fatigue with feeling cold, ongoing weakness; joint or muscle pain, swollen ankles, racing heart, or any impaired sensation.
  • Physical pain during sexual activity.
  • Depression, defined as a vague feeling of numbness and sadness. A counselor, especially one specializing in sexuality, can help you understand what is happening regarding your loss of sex drive. Couples counseling can also be arranged.
  • Being threatened or feeling like you are in danger because you are not having sex with your partner.

Remedies for decreased sex drive symptoms that you can do at home:

  • Lifestyle improvements regarding diet, exercise, sleep, and socializing can be very helpful.
  • You can re-examine relationship choices and have open discussions with your partner, making decisions together about your intimate lives and the future of your relationship.
  • Limit drugs and alcohol.

FAQs About Decreased Sex Drive

Here are some frequently asked questions about decreased sex drive.

What are common reasons for a decreased sex drive?

The most common reasons for decreased sex drive include medications like anti-depression medications, or medications that counteract androgens (male sex hormones), alcoholism, depression, fatigue, hypoactive sexual disorder, recreational drugs, relationship problems, fear of humiliation, sexual aversion disorder, systemic illness, and testosterone deficiency.

Can prescription drugs lead to decreased sex drive?

Yes. Most commonly, antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs (prozac) and tricyclic antidepressants can decrease sex drive. Many of these drugs affect libido by increasing the amount of serotonin within the synaptic clefts of the brain. There are alternatives to these drugs, however. Bupropion, for example, is known to treat depression without decreasing libido. Drugs for benign prostatic hyperplasia, like finasteride, for example, can decrease the amount of testosterone as can birth control pills. Both can cause a decrease in libido. Redone

Can too little exercise lead to decreased sex drive?

Yes, exercise transiently increases the amount of testosterone in the body over time which can lead to increased sex drive. It also increases the amount of endorphins and may also lead to increased self-esteem which may increases chances of initiating sex or desiring sex. Too little exercise may deprive an individual of these benefits and contribute to a lower sex drive depending on the cause of the low libido.

What is low libido?

Low libido is a decrease in an individual's baseline sexual desire or desire for sexual activity. This level is different for different individuals and can even vary throughout an individual's lifespan. It can be the product of a chemical imbalance produced my medications, physical illness, psychological diseases, or a physical problem with obtaining and maintaining an erection in the case of men or adequate lubrication in the case of women.

Can low testosterone or estrogen levels have an effect on sex drive?

Yes. Low testosterone levels in particular can decrease sex drive. Testosterone is responsible for both aggression and desire which are components of sex drive. In the absence of high levels of testosterone, it may become more difficult to initiate sexual activity. Low levels of estrogen can have an effect on readying the body for sexual activity.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Decreased Sex Drive

  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Are you having difficulty concentrating or thinking through daily activities?
  • Q.Have you had any changes in your weight?
  • Q.Do you currently smoke?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our decreased sex drive symptom checker to find out more.

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Decreased Sex Drive Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced decreased sex drive have also experienced:

    • 8% Fatigue
    • 2% Depressed Mood
    • 2% Bloody Vaginal Discharge
  • People who have experienced decreased sex drive were most often matched with:

    • 42% Hypothyroidism
    • 42% High Prolactin Hormone Level
    • 14% Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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