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Loss of libido

Overview

Loss of libido is a common condition in which your sexual drive is decreased or absent. Majority of the cases occur due to emotional stress in relationships or psychological issues, but some may occur due to other medical reasons. It can affect both men and women. Every individual may have experienced a loss of libido at some point in life, which eventually returns. However, if your sex drive has diminished over a long period and does not resolve with common measures, it is important to seek help from a medical expert. 

Causes

There are various causes of loss of libido, which include psychological, emotional, physical, hormonal, and other factors. Some reasons may be different for men and women. Generally, psychological issues are usually the most common causative factors. Stress, anxiety, depression, lack of privacy, lack of intimacy, history of trauma or abuse, and performance anxiety are common complaints that can cause reduced sexual drive in both men and women. Emotional stress within relationships or having an affair can also affect your sexual drive. Women are affected more due to psychological and emotional factors than men.

 

Physical factors such as obesity, malnourishment, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other medical conditions can inhibit your sexual drive. Chronic diseases or diseases that cause long-term pain can also affect a person’s desire to have sex. Smoking, use of alcohol, and intake of drugs are other common factors. Hormonal issues among men and women can also affect their sex drive. Low testosterone in men can occur due to multiple reasons. Females can have a reduced sex drive due to menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. 

Risk Factors And Epidemiology

The risk factors for loss of libido are connected with its causative factors. If you have a pre-existing psychological condition such as depression or anxiety, you may not feel the natural urge to engage in sex. Stress from work or interpersonal relationships can also lead to loss of libido. Medical conditions that may risk your sexual drive include obesity, malnutrition, diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain disorders, urinary incontinence, and hormonal issues. Smoking, intake of drugs, and use of alcohol are also among risk factors. History of trauma or sexual abuse can greatly influence a person’s sexual desire.

 

According to research, women are more likely to experience loss of libido than men. Around 33% of the women in the United States experience low libido due to emotional, psychological, medical, or hormonal issues. 5% of men also experience loss of libido due to stress, medical reasons, and psychological problems. 

Signs And Symptoms

The severity of loss of libido can vary depending upon your age, gender, and other factors. Older people naturally have a reduced sex drive compared to young adults. No particular set of symptoms can be defined as loss of libido. If you have not been feeling the urge or desire to have sex, lack any sexual fantasies, avoid physical intimacy, or do not get anxious at the thought of having sex, you may be experiencing loss of libido. Some people may only experience it for a few weeks, while it may last for years in severe cases. If an underlying medical condition causes it, you may experience other symptoms such as pain during intercourse, difficulty achieving orgasm, delayed orgasm, etc. 

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is usually made on the basis of your history and symptoms. Your doctor will ask questions about any past trauma, sexual abuse, work stress, psychological issues, or present medical conditions. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) can be used to identify whether you have a loss of libido or any other type of sexual dysfunction. Additional tests may be done if a medical problem is suspected as an underlying cause. These tests include complete blood count, thyroid function tests (TFTs), diabetes tests, hormonal tests, etc. In some cases, a physical examination of the genital organs may also be done to look for any infection, pain, or inflammation. 

Differential Diagnosis

Loss of libido can occur as a separate problem or as a manifestation of another disease. It must be differentiated from other conditions such as central nervous system diseases, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, hypogonadism, erectile dysfunction, substance abuse, medication use, and non-sexual mental disorders. 

Treatment

The treatment of this condition depends on your history and severity of symptoms. Many people benefit from counseling and therapy. Talking with a sex therapist can help address and understand your issues regarding low sex drive. Your therapist will guide you regarding some techniques and exercises that can be done to boost your sex drive. If you have relationship or intimacy issues, they can also be addressed with therapy. Some lifestyle modifications will also be recommended if you are facing psychological problems. If you are on a medication that may cause loss of libido, such as certain antidepressants, talk to your doctor about it to get an alternative medicine.

Medication

 

Some medications can help improve your sex drive but may have side effects. Hormone therapy is suggested in certain cases, particularly for women. These may include estrogen, testosterone, prasterone, and ospemifene. 

Prognosis

Loss of libido cannot be treated in a few days if it has persisted for a long time. The recovery process will also be long and may take a few weeks to a few months. Therapy, counseling, and medications (if necessary) can help improve your condition. 

Prevention

It is difficult to prevent loss of libido since it can occur at any time due to psychological or emotional distress. If you have been having the symptoms for some time and facing problems in your relationship due to this condition, contact a sex therapist or specialist to achieve proper treatment. 

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