4 Health Problems That Are Killing Your Libido—and How to Get It Back
THESE COMMON HEALTH CONCERNS COULD BE BEHIND YOUR BEDROOM WOES.
If you've ever experienced loss of libido—whether short or long-term—you're not alone. According to the U.K.'s National Health Services (NHS), roughly one in five men and one in three women experience a lowered interest in sex at some point in their lives.
Though oftentimes a loss of libido can signal personal or emotional changes (stress is a common culprit), or changes in the relationship, other times a physical condition is to blame. We reached out to Rhiannon John, a sexologist at Bedbible, to talk about four health problems that could be killing your libido—and how to get it back.
Read on to learn about these common health concerns, and how they may be affecting you or your partner in the bedroom.
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Depression and anxiety
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According to John, depression and anxiety are common causes of low libido. Complicating matters further, medications used to treat these mental health conditions can also affect your ability to feel sexual desire. "Many people diagnosed with depression and anxiety are often treated with antidepressants, which could also affect their libido. Most antidepressants belong to a group of drugs called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While these work well at reducing the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, they often come with sexual side effects," she tells Best Life.
Besides lowered libido, side effects of SSRIs include "reduced lubrication for vulva owners, inability to achieve or maintain an erection for penis owners, delayed orgasm, inability to orgasm, and reduced libido," notes the sex expert. Though John says the benefits of SSRIs often outweigh their adverse side effects, your doctor may help you avoid these unwanted changes by switching you to another antidepressant or lowering the dose.
READ THIS NEXT: If You Take This Common Medication, It Could Be Ruining Your Sex Life, Doctors Say.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a common cause of low libido. "Low libido, or sexual desire, is a real problem—and one that affects people with diabetes more than those without. Men and women experience low libido as a result of poorly managed diabetes. If your sex drive is stalled, first look to your diabetes management and take steps to lower your blood glucose levels. Then consider your medications. Certain drugs, such as antidepressants, can lower sexual desire, so be sure to talk to your doctor," the organization's experts write.
Overweight men with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have low testosterone, a fact that many experts use to explain decreased libido in this group. You may be able to increase your testosterone by losing weight, or through testosterone therapy. Some experts believe that women may similarly benefit from testosterone therapy, the organization notes. However, the research supporting this theory is less robust.
As women enter menopause in their 40s and 50s, many report lowered libido and decreased sexual satisfaction as a side effect. "Menopause often causes a drop in libido as the hormone decrease can result in decreased vaginal lubrication, arousal, and desire and a thinning of the vaginal tissue," explains John. "Low vaginal lubrication and thin vaginal tissue can lead to painful sex, further reducing a person's libido. Additionally, research has found that sleep disturbances due to hot sweats also decrease libido, as these people are often too tired to engage in sexual activity," she says.
John adds that this problem may be addressed with the help of lubrication during sex and foreplay. "This will help to reduce the amount of friction felt and lead to more pleasurable sex for both partners."
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Another health condition that can lead to loss of libido is cardiovascular disease and the underlying conditions that cause it, such as hypertension and high cholesterol.
"Cardiovascular diseases reduce the amount of blood flow around the body, which can lead to a loss of arousal in both the vagina and penis and even result in a loss of erection for penis owners," says John. "Furthermore, people with cardiovascular diseases often experience fatigue and shortness of breath, which can make engaging in sex difficult or even dangerous."
Working with your doctor to manage or treat your condition and its underlying causes can help you regain a safe and satisfying sex life.