Decreased or Low Libido

Head | Neurology | Decreased or Low Libido (Symptom)


Libido is the psychic energy or instinctual drive associated with sexual desire, pleasure, or creativity. It can vary enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. Sex drive has usually biological, psychological, and social components. Biologically, levels of hormones such as testosterone are believed to affect sex drive; social factors, such as work and family, also have an impact; as do internal psychological factors, like personality and stress.


A decrease in sex drive can develop both due to medical conditions as well as to psychological or emotional issues. Inhibited sexual desire is a type of sexual dysfunction that affects both men and women. A reduction in sexual desire has been associated with low levels of testosterone in men. Decreased libido frequently accompanies other sexual disorders. Although most men with erectile dysfunction do not complain of decreased libido, after a time, failure can lead to reduced sex drive in some men. Men who have other causes of decreased libido also often have trouble achieving erections. Likewise, women in the menopausal transitions sometimes report a decrease in sex drive.

Other common causes of low libido include: medications (SSRI antidepressants; medications that reduce testosterone levels, such as those taken for prostate cancer), excessive alcohol use or recreational drug use, excessive fatigue, systemic illness (such as chronic lung, heart, kidney and liver failure, cancer), low testosterone, depression, relationship problems.

Chronic illnesses and chronic pain can also lead to a decrease in sex drive, likely through a combination of physical effects of the disease as well as the psychological stress associated with a chronic illness.


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