Low Sexual Desire: From Biological Causes to Psychological Influences

Facing challenges regarding sexual health can often be a sensitive topic, especially when dealing with low sexual desire or decreased interest in sexual activity. From time to time, it’s normal to experience fluctuations in your sexual drive. However, consistently low sexual desire might point toward underlying health issues. This comprehensive guide aims to provide an understanding of low sexual desire, explore potential causes, discuss its potential physical and emotional side effects, and suggest strategies for managing and treating it effectively.

 About Low Sexual Desire

Low sexual desire, also referred to as hyposexuality, signifies a diminished interest in sexual activity. It’s common for sexual energy to fluctuate over one’s lifetime, and there may occasionally be a mismatch between your sexual desire and your partner’s. However, consistent and prolonged instances of low sexual desire might raise concern as it could indicate underlying health complications.

Cause of Low Sexual Desire

Several factors can influence sexual desire in men. Here are a few potential causes:

1. Diminished Testosterone

Testosterone, a crucial male hormone produced chiefly in the testes, is accountable for muscle and bone mass growth and sperm production. It directly influences your sexual desire. According to the American Urological Association, men are considered to have low testosterone if their levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter. A significant decrease in testosterone levels often corresponds with reduced sexual desire. It’s vital to consult a medical professional if you suspect this issue. Therapies like supplements or gels can help promote testosterone levels.

2. Medications

The utilization of certain medications can precipitate a decline in testosterone levels, potentially resulting in reduced sexual desire.

For instance, specific blood pressure medications, including ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, are known to possibly interfere with the mechanism of ejaculation and erection.

Several other types of medications and treatments can also negatively impact testosterone levels and, subsequently, your sexual desire. These include:

  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy, typically administered for cancer treatment
  • Hormonal therapy is often employed in the management of prostate cancer
  • Corticosteroids, a class of drugs used to treat inflammation
  • Opioid pain relievers, including known drugs like morphine (under brand names such as MorphaBond, MS Contin) and oxycodone (known by brands like OxyContin, Percocet)
  • Ketoconazole, an antifungal medication
  • Cimetidine (sold under the brand name Tagamet), a drug often prescribed for heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Anabolic steroids, sometimes used by athletes to boost muscle mass
  • Certain antidepressants

3. Depression

Depression has the potential to dramatically alter all facets of life for those affected. Among the many changes it can instigate, depression commonly leads to diminished interest or even complete apathy towards activities that were once sources of enjoyment, including sexual activities.

Interestingly, low sexual desire can be further exacerbated by certain antidepressant medications used to manage depression, such as:

  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), like duloxetine, are marketed under the brand name Cymbalta.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) include drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft).

On the other hand, the norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) known as bupropion (available as Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL) does not appear to have the same sexual desire-reducing effects.

Having low sexual desire while taking antidepressants should be discussed with your doctor. They can potentially address these side effects by adjusting your dosage or suggesting a transition to a different medication, thereby minimizing the impact on your sexual desire.

4. Chronic Illness

When grappling with continuous health issues like chronic pain, one’s sexual desires might understandably take a backseat. Persistent ailments can negatively impact various facets of sexual health, such as sperm count, which can be reduced by diseases like cancer.

Several other chronic conditions can have a significant toll on sexual desire, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Chronic diseases affecting major organs, such as pulmonary (lung), cardiac (heart), renal (kidney), and hepatic (liver) failure

Navigating these health challenges doesn’t mean intimacy should be completely sidelined in your relationship. It’s critical to have open dialogues with your partner about managing intimacy during these challenging times.

5. Sleep Disorders

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine illuminates a significant correlation between non-obese men with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and diminished testosterone levels, which could potentially lead to a reduced frequency of sexual activity and lower sexual desire.

In this comprehensive study, it was revealed that approximately one-third of the male participants experiencing severe sleep apnea also exhibited decreased testosterone levels, establishing a clear linkage between sleep disorder and hormonal imbalance.

In another consequential study conducted with a cohort of young, healthy men, a noteworthy decline of 10 to 15 percent in testosterone levels was identified when the subjects were subjected to sleep restrictions, allowing only five hours of rest per night.

It is interesting to note that the impact of sleep deprivation on testosterone levels was most evident during the hours of 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm the following day. These findings underscore the critical role of healthy sleep patterns in maintaining optimal testosterone levels and, by extension, a vibrant sexual drive.

6. Aging Increase

Testosterone, a hormone significantly linked to sexual desire, typically reaches peak levels during a man’s teenage years.

As men age, alterations in sexual functionality can occur: the time to reach orgasm might elongate, ejaculations might occur less quickly, and arousal itself may require more time. Moreover, erections might not be as firm as before and the time it takes for the penis to become erect might increase.

Nevertheless, these changes don’t signify an end to fulfilling sexual encounters. A variety of medications are available to effectively manage these age-related changes, supporting men to maintain an active and satisfying sexual life in their later years.

7. Stress

Your sexual desire can be adversely affected if you’re preoccupied with overwhelming circumstances or navigating a high-stress phase. Stress can disrupt hormone levels in your body, including those linked to sexual desire. Additionally, stress can cause arterial constriction, leading to restricted blood flow, which can contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED).

Discernible evidence supports this interplay between stress and sexual dysfunction. A research article published in Scientific Research and Papers bolsters the perception that stress has a direct, tangible impact on sexual issues for both men and women.

Further, a separate study focused on veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that the secondary stress condition amplified their risk of developing sexual dysfunction by more than three-fold.

Unfortunately, stress is an inevitable part of life. Life events such as issues in relationships, divorce, grieving the death of a loved one, financial stressors, the arrival of a new baby, or navigating a tumultuous work environment can substantially decrease sexual desire.

Implementing stress management strategies, for instance, practicing deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or consulting with a therapist, can be beneficial. In one documented study, men with newly diagnosed ED who underwent an 8-week stress management program saw significant improvements in their erectile function scores.

8. Low Self-Confidence

Self-esteem is essentially an individual’s holistic evaluation of their own worth. A lack of self-esteem, diminished self-confidence, and negative body image can impact not only your emotional well-being but also your sexual health.

Feeling unattractive or undesired may cause you to retract from sexual interaction. If you’re displeased with your reflection in the mirror, this dissatisfaction can be so crippling that it motivates you to evade sexual encounters completely.

Low self-esteem often fosters anxiety about sexual performance, potentially leading to problems such as erectile dysfunction and diminished sexual desire.

Over the course of time, issues of self-esteem can snowball into considerable mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety, or potentially harmful behaviors like drug or alcohol use.

9. Too little (or too much) exercise

Both insufficient and excessive exercise can contribute to a decline in male sexual desire.

Neglecting exercise can fester various health issues that adversely affect sexual desire and arousal. Committing to a regular exercise routine helps mitigate the risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, all of which can hamper sexual desire. Engaging in moderate exercise aids in lowering nighttime cortisol levels and attenuating stress, thereby potentially enhancing sexual desire.

However, overindulgence in strenuous exercise can paradoxically harm sexual health. According to one study, consistently engaging in high-intensity, long-term endurance training was notably correlated with decreased sexual desire scores in men.

Therefore, maintaining a balanced exercise regimen is crucial for preserving an optimal sexual health landscape. A healthy habit of moderate exercise may help stave off health challenges linked to low sexual desire, whereas extreme exercise regimes could carry potential risks to sexual wellness.

10. Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption, defined as more than 14 mixed drinks in a week, has been associated with diminished testosterone production. Over an extended period, this heavy drinking can lead to a decrease in sexual desire.

Institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic recommend that men, who tend to consume three or more alcoholic beverages regularly, should contemplate reducing their alcohol intake for the betterment of their sexual health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a guideline suggesting that an average adult male should limit consumption to two or fewer alcoholic drinks per day. Surpassing this limit can contribute to long-term health degradation, including compromised sexual function.

Effects of Low Sexual Desire

For men, experiencing a dwindling sexual desire can be deeply unsettling. A reduced sex drive can instigate a perilous cycle of physical and emotional complications, including Erectile Dysfunction (ED)—the incapability of sustaining an erection long enough for gratifying sexual intercourse.

ED can instill a sense of sexual apprehension in men. This may engender tension and conflict with their partners, consequently leading to fewer sexual encounters and intensifying relationship strains.

The impact of poor sexual performance due to ED can ignite feelings of depression, trigger issues around self-esteem, and engender a negative body image.

Treatment Options Low Sexual Desire

Effectively addressing low sexual desire often hinges on tackling the root issue.

If a specific medical condition is causing your reduced sexual desire, it might be necessary to reconsider the medications you are taking. If a psychological component underlies your low sexual desire, seeking relationship counseling or individual therapy might be beneficial.

Additionally, you could adopt proactive measures to invigorate your sexual desire. Embracing the following behaviors could potentially enhance your sexual desire:

  • Adopt a healthier lifestyle
  • Ensure adequate sleep
  • Practice stress management techniques
  • Consume a healthier, balanced diet


Low sexual desire in men is a multifaceted issue that can have significant psychological and physical impacts. It’s crucial to note that this reduced sexual desire does not reflect one’s masculinity or value in a relationship. Varied contributing factors, such as certain medical conditions, medication side effects, or psychological stress, can significantly lower sexual desire levels.

However, the situation isn’t hopeless. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of underlying causes can significantly alleviate the issue. Furthermore, adopting proactive strategies, such as leading a healthier lifestyle, getting ample sleep, managing stress adequately, and eating nutritiously, can help boost sexual desire levels.


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