A couple with low libido issues having a serious conversation while cuddling on the couch
Illustration by Marta Pucci

7 Common Causes of Low Libido

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
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Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:

Our libido varies throughout our life and is dependant on many factors. From age, stress, and other lifestyle factors, many things can reduce our desire for sex.

Low libido is a common problem for as many as 52% of Americans at some point in their life. It's also common for our libido not to always match our partner's.

Not knowing the causes of low libido and how you can work on improving it can leave you feeling isolated and confused.

What are some common causes of low libido? Let's take a look, along with the steps you can take to get help and improve your sex drive.

1. Anxiety and depression

Does anxiety cause loss of sexual desire? The short answer is yes.

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, it can contribute to secondary sexual dysfunction. This is an impaired desire and can reduce the ability to initiate sex.

Why does anxiety affect desire? Anxiety and depression alter your body's chemistry and make it challenging to produce a balanced amount of hormones. Depression is linked to low testosterone production.

Low testosterone can lead to fatigue, lack of motivation, as well as low libido. Testosterone stimulates sex drive in both men and women. When you are low on testosterone, the last thing you want to think about is sex!

You may find yourself avoiding any physical contact with your partner and avoiding any conversations about sex.

Anxiety can result in painful sex or bad sexual experiences. This may lead to feeling more anxious about having sex again; you are nervous and don't think you will enjoy it. It can be a vicious cycle that's hard to get out of.

One of the best ways to deal with it is talking to your partner; if they can understand how you feel, it will help you feel supported and understood.

Sometimes our partners may take it personally that we don't want sex. If you explain to your partner you have libido issues, it will help reassure them that it isn't personal.  

2. Medication

Many commonly used medications can affect sexual desire. If you are on medication to treat anxiety, depression, or blood pressure, it may cause your libido to decline.

Erectile dysfunction affects as many as 100 million men worldwide. Beta-blockers, in particular, are linked to erectile dysfunction.

People with chronic illnesses can also be affected by low libido. If you are chronically ill, sex is unlikely to be high on your list of priorities.

If you think your medication may be affecting your sex drive, talk to your doctor. They may be able to help you find a drug that has less impact on your sex drive.

When taking medication, also make sure your partner is aware of the potential side effects. You don't want it to be a surprise to them if your libido suddenly drops. Talk with them about other ways you could be intimate that isn't only sex.  

3. Stress

How does stress affect a person's sex drive? Stress has a significant impact on your body and mind. Your hormones become imbalanced, which can cause you to lose sleep and gain weight.

All factors that will potentially affect your sex life and libido. Stress also causes you to be distracted. If your mind is on the factors causing stress, it can be difficult for you to relax and get in the mood for sex.

Try to manage stress levels as much as you can. Take time for yourself to do some activities you enjoy. Whether that's a gentle walk or a warm bath, never neglect yourself!

Breathing exercises and meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day are proven to reduce stress levels.  

You may also find speaking to a therapist helpful for managing stress levels.

4. Low self esteem

If you aren't confident in who you are, it can lead to low self-esteem and low self-worth. This can cause complications for your sex life.

Not feeling desirable can affect your ability to initiate sex with your partner. You may have a fear of rejection which is another reason you don't want to initiate sex.

Low self-esteem can also cause anxiety about performance, which can, in turn, lead to erectile dysfunction or worry about having sex. When you start to overthink things, it isn't easy to get out of the cycle.

Therapy, self-help, and overall lifestyle changes can help you improve your self-esteem.

5. Alcohol and drugs

Both alcohol and drugs are part of many people's lives. We know one or two drinks can help us relax and even get in the mood for sex. However, both alcohol and drugs can harm sex drive and desire in the long term.

Over time, excessive use of these substances reduces testosterone production, which impedes the desire for sex. This is relevant for both men and women.

Smoking can reduce the quantity and quality of sperm production and may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Trying to cut back on your alcohol and drug consumption could improve your sex life.

6. Lack of sleep

When you're tired, all you want to do when you go to bed is sleep. Sex is the last thing on your mind.

Good quality sleep is the foundation for a healthy and happy life. But getting a good night's rest is easier said than done, especially if you have a busy life, a demanding job, or young children.

What might cause a decreased sex drive? Not enough sleep can lead to a rise in your cortisol levels which can cause stress and reduce your libido.

Optimizing everything in your routine to get a good rest can be a game-changer. Try going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning to get your body used to a rhythm.

Don't drink caffeine or alcohol for at least 5 hours before going to bed. Stop using screens in the hour before you go to bed, and don't keep your tech in the bedroom. Play some music and have soft lighting in your room to encourage your mind to switch off and relax.

If you take some simple steps towards getting a good night's sleep, you can rest and feel more energized. Don't underestimate how much good sleep can affect your whole life.  

7. Aging

As we age, our libido naturally declines. For men, their testosterone production starts to fall by 1-2% every year after their thirties. A reduction in testosterone can result in lower libido.

For women, menopause can affect their desire for sex. The reduction of estrogen during menopause can cause vaginal dryness and cause sex to become painful. This may put women off from wanting sex.

Female testosterone levels also start to decline during menopause which affects libido.

Many of us are in long-term relationships, and as we get older, we can lose the sexual desire we once had for our partner. This can lead to less sex and a decline in libido.

More causes for low libido

If you think you have low libido for a different reason than the ones listed above. Take a look at our comprehensive guide on low libido causes.

How to deal with the causes of low libido

We've touched on some of the answers already. If you are suffering from low libido, there are several paths you can take.

You can try some lifestyle changes such as increasing your levels of exercise and sleep. Dietary changes can also help you improve your overall well-being. Eating a varied and balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is essential for optimal health.

Have open, honest communication with your partner. This can help you feel more comfortable, supported, and less alone. It can be hard to talk about sex but having conversations that may make you feel uncomfortable at first usually give you the best outcomes.

Therapy and sex counseling are also great options to help you work through the challenges of low libido. You can do this alone or with your partner.

If you are dealing with deeper issues that may be causing a lack of sexual desire, therapy may be an effective choice for you. Speak to your doctor about the options for therapy available to you.

The Blueheart app can also help. It gives you tips, advice, and ideas for activities you and your partner can take part in together. You also have the option to access in-house therapists who can talk you through your situation.

Learn about libido

If you learn about the causes of low libido and how to recognize whether your partner's sex drive matches yours, you can indefinitely improve your relationship.

It is natural that at some point in any relationship, you will have differing levels of libido. Try not to worry about this; there are plenty of resources to help you rekindle connection and enjoy a fun and fulfilling sex life.

Learn more here more about how the Bluehart app works.

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