The Betterment Project

Low Sex Drive In Men: 5 Surprising Causes

By Adam Hurly


So maybe you’re not the spry 22-year-old you used to be. Or maybe you’re 22 and simply not as randy as your friends.


Thing is, your sex drive fluctuates with all the other variables in your life, and it’s not something you can compare against other people. But if you aren’t happy with the level of your sex drive, we have some good news: Low sex drive is something you can address—and increase—if you take the right measures.


But a lot of solutions are expensive or high risk, like hormone injections, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month and increase your risk of liver and heart problems, as well as blood clots.


The first step in boosting your libido is identifying the reason your sex drive is low in the first place, starting with the common causes of low sex drive here:


Your expectations are too high.


Before you freak out about your “low sex drive,” ask yourself, am I just comparing myself to other men? “Some guys may tell themselves that they should have a higher sex drive, but in reality, it’s just a matter of changing their expectations,” says Michael J. Salas, PsyD and licensed therapist, owner and founder of Vantage Point Counseling in Dallas. “It's normal to experience lower sex drive when you're dealing with stress and contending with the chaos of each day and week.”


Problem is, Salas sees patients who feel shame stemming from comparing themselves to either their peers or to Adonis-like imagery: “Some friends might talk about their amazing sex lives and make others feel like something is wrong,” he says. Same goes for what you see in porn and even in PG13 movies. “When men compare themselves to other men, they can experience shame.”


Try to draw a line around the ideas and perceptions you absorb from your environment, then keep yourself separate from it. Are you happy with your sex life? Great. Ignore the other noise.


You’re depressed or overly stressed.


Stress affects every part of your being: your health, your energy, your thoughts, and—surprise—your sex drive. But many people who experience high levels of stress are completely oblivious to it, says Salas. “It's hard to recognize that stress is a problem when you're used to dealing with high levels of it,” he says. Salas urges his patients to practice better stress management. “Mindfulness-based meditation can increase your tolerance to stress,” he says.


Depression is another cause of low sex drive. “Men don't realize how their moods can impact their sexual desire and functioning,” Salas says. Solutions for depression will vary based on the severity. But know this about antidepressants: “Unfortunately, antidepressants can often further lower sex drive,” Salas says. “Seeing a therapist can help people learn about the causes of their depression, while building resources to work through it.”


You’re not getting enough sleep.


Part of the reason you’re stressed might be because you aren’t getting enough rest. Downtime helps restore the body’s functions, so if you’re not rested, your sex drive will suffer like everything else.


Dr. Bruce B. Sloane, a urologist in Philadelphia who sits on the medical advisory board of Gainswave, points to a JAMA study showing that insomnia and a general lack of sleep cause a significant decline in testosterone levels, which is linked to a lower sex drive.


Herbs like ashwagandha, found in our Superhuman Supplements, can help. An American Journal of Men’s Health study shows that daily intake of ashwagandha boosts testosterone levels. And speaking of our Superhuman Supplements, you’ll also find S7™, an ingredient that helps counter the effects of stress (read: low sex drive).


You’ve set more boundaries without realizing.


Salas cites a 2011 study showing how personal perceptions can create inhibitions. It could be the boundaries you’ve unknowingly built over time, even within a longstanding relationship: “It's important for people who are in long-term relationships to carve out sexual time,” he says. “Sometimes, people think this is less romantic than spontaneous sex, but then the spontaneous sex doesn't happen anyway.” This means, yes, you need to talk about sex with your partner. “Sometimes, men can be uncomfortable communicating what they want sexually, which can lead to boredom, frustration, and shutting down sexually.”


You’re getting older.


“Sexual desire does decrease with age,” Salas says—and it’s often a direct correlation to a drop in testosterone levels. “However, there are a lot of men who report having less sex, but more enjoyable sex, as they get older.”


Dr. Sloane points to effective high-end medical solutions like testosterone therapy, which studies show help boost hormone levels, and ideally, boost sex drive as a result. But you should turn to simpler solutions first, and those are outlined above: Get some rest, take herbal supplements, minimize stress, and reset your expectations. And above all, if you’re concerned about your sex drive, talk about it—with your best friends, your partner(s), or your doctors.


Let’s keep the conversation going: If you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter (here in the footer). We’ll deliver a weekly dose of health advice right to your inbox.

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This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

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