Causes of low libido

The causes of a low libido vary greatly and the cause is often multi-factorial. This means that it is not necessarily contributed to one specific problem but it is rather as a result of a few different conditions or events. The cause may be related to a medical condition but may also be due to other factors. Loss of libido is related to decreased energy, mental health and overall quality of life.

The possible causes of a decreased male libido are briefly discussed:

  • Medication
  • The common medications which cause a decrease in libido are the Selective Serotonin Receptor Antagonist Antidepressants and drugs used in the management of hypertension. Loss of libido is also very common during the treatment of cancer.

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling tired constantly, for whatever reason, will decrease sexual desire. This is because someone who feels chronically fatigued has no energy left for sex. If a man is chronically tired without any reason, it will be a good idea for him to see a medical professional to evaluate why he is chronically tired. Low testosterone is just one of the possibilities, which can result in constant tiredness. Being physically or emotionally overworked decreases a man’s energy which will eventually affect his libido.

  • Psychological issues
  • psychologicaly-issues

    Anger and resentment in a relationship can be a cause of a low libido

    • Stress
    • Stress causes a decrease in sexual drive. The stress can be job-stress, financial-stress, relationship-stress or stress from being too busy. The hormones released during stress like cortisone and adrenalin, can decrease testosterone levels and therefor result in a decreased libido. Increased stress also results in less sleep and poorer sleep quality which can result in increased cortisol levels.

    • Relationship conflict
    • Anger and resentment in a relationship which are not properly dealt with can be a cause of a low libido in men. A lot of interpersonal conflict with a partner can definitely decrease sexual desire. Relationship conflict affects libido in various ways and is different for every individual. There is a psychological and emotional aspect involved during sexual intercourse which may be affected by constant conflict. Suppressed and unacknowledged anger may manifest with a decreased libido in some men. Anger and relationship stress increase cortisol levels which decrease libido. Inversely, a loss of libido can also result in relationship conflict and it can worsen relationship conflict. So relationship conflict not only causes a decreased libido but a decreased libido also causes relationship conflict.

  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Hormonal disturbances

    Hormonal disturbances

    • Decreased Testosterone levels
    • Any diseases, medications and conditions causing decreased testosterone levels may also result in a decreased sexual desire. An unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, chronic stress and certain environmental factors all contribute to lowered testosterone levels. Medications like the opioids, which are used for pain management; statins, which are used to decrease cholesterol levels; and certain anti-depressants can all lower testosterone levels. A low libido caused by low levels of testosterone may also be accompanied with erectile dysfunction and infertility. Physical symptoms like weakness and tiredness may also be present as well as psychological symptoms like depression.

    • Thyroid hormone disorders
    • The symptoms of hypothyroidism, which is caused by too little thyroid hormones, are decreased energy, memory loss, depression, weight gain and a decreased libido. Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease which is more common in women. Men with hypothyroidism tend to present with a worse form of the disease because men tend to ignore or feel too embarrassed to report their symptoms earlier on. Men with hypothyroidism are far more likely to have a decreased libido than healthy males.

    • Prolactin
    • An increase in the levels of the hormone, Prolactin, is generally believed to decrease sexual desire in most men. A study has also showed that Prolactin levels below the average range may also be associated with a decrease in sex drive.

  • Decreased Dopamine
  • Dopamine levels are needed for normal sexual function. Decreased Dopamine levels are associated with loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction. Decreased dopamine is also the main problem in patients with Parkinson’s disease. 68% of patients affected with Parkinson’s disease report a decrease in sexual drive.


    Recreational drug abuse and excessive alcohol use causes a decrease in libido

  • Recreational drugs and alcohol
  • Recreational drug abuse and excessive alcohol use causes a decrease in libido via various hormonal and chemical pathways. Anabolic steroid use may initially increase libido but long term use of anabolic steroids or abuse of anabolic steroids may lead to a decreased libido from interfering with natural testosterone production. Alcohol has a depressant effect on sexual physiology. Acute and chronic alcohol consumption decreases the production of testosterone in the testes. Alcohol also decreases intensity of orgasm which leads to a less enjoyable sex life. Other drugs of abuse like cocaine and marijuana also have an effect on the production of testosterone.

  • Medical diseases
  • Many medical diseases will decrease sexual desire. Important medical diseases which are associated with a decreased libido are: diabetes, hypertension, HIV-associated disorders, various infections, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

  • Mental Disorders
  • Any mental disorder can result in a decrease in sexual drive. The most common mental disorders causing a decreased libido are depression and anxiety disorders. Depression itself causes a decrease in libido but many treatments used to treat depression also decreases sexual desire.


    Obesity is directly linked to a decreased libido

  • Obesity
  • Obesity, especially abdominal obesity is directly linked to a decreased libido. Obesity leads to medical complications like hypertension and diabetes which will also decrease libido. Obese men have decreased testosterone production. Obesity not only decreases sex drive physically by interfering with sexual hormone production but it also has an effect on confidence and self-esteem. Patients with low confidence and low self-esteem also have an increased risk to develop depression which will also lead to a lowered sex drive.

  • Aging
  • It is considered normal for libido to decrease with an increase in age. But the degree of decrease is highly variable and is different for every individual. There are many elderly people who still have a very enjoyable sex life. A decreased libido is therefore not necessarily associated with age but rather with an increase in morbidity and a decline in general health which accompanies old age.