A good sex life is important to both men and women. In fact, a dwindling libido for either can throw a wrench into an otherwise healthy relationship. Although a waning libido is common with age, this problem may stem from more than merely getting older. A reduced sex drive can be a sign of various health problems, both emotional and physical.
Low Libido in Men
Although low libido is more often associated with women, it is more common in men than people may think. In fact, some research suggests that about 40 percent of the time, it is the man who experiences less sexual desire in a relationship.
The leading cause of reduced sexual desire in men is medication, typically those that combat high blood pressure or SSRI-type antidepressants. These drugs are known to have side effects that can impact libido.
When men cannot get or maintain erections, they experience erectile dysfunction. Although erection problems are more common in older men, they can also affect younger men. Erectile dysfunction is more often attributed to physical causes in older men and to emotional causes in younger men.
Because the brain, nerves, hormones and blood vessels are all involved with getting and maintaining erections, medications or diseases that affect these parts of the body can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. Common diseases that can contribute to erection problems are diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease.
When a physician makes a diagnosis of low T, it means a man's testosterone is below normal levels. Although it is natural for men to experience lower levels of testosterone with age, levels that are too low can mean there is a signaling problem between the brain and the testes which is affecting production of testosterone. Low T can also be attributed to the body's inability to manufacture testosterone due to a problem with the testes themselves. A physician can determine the cause of low T and determine whether testosterone replacement may be a good treatment option.
Low Libido in Women
Imbalance of hormones is the most common cause of reduced sex drive in women. This explains why women often begin to notice this change during perimenopause. The hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone all play important roles when it comes to a woman's libido.
Depleted levels of progesterone can negatively impact desire for sex. Low estrogen can cause thinning of the vaginal wall and vaginal dryness which both make sex uncomfortable. Finally, in addition to having an impact on men, reduced testosterone levels can affect a woman's sexual response and climax as well.
Because adrenal glands are involved in response to stress and the production of sex hormones, problems with the adrenal glands can also affect the sex drive. Women who experience chronic stress may want to be checked for adrenal fatigue if having problems with sexual response.
Some other health issues that can affect sexual desire in women are diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Like men, women also experience reduced libido due to certain medications like antidepressants and anti-seizure medication.
Here are additional factors that can affect sexual desire in both men and women:
Spinal cord injury
Alcohol, nicotine or other drug use
Anger, anxiety, or stress
Lack of communication in the relationship
Feelings of doubt or failure
There are several health benefits of having a good sex life. Studies have shown that men and women who have regular sex experience a 50 percent reduction in risks for cardiovascular disease. Also, regular sex positively affects emotional health due to higher levels of intimacy and self-esteem. While there is no set rule on how often couples should have sex, the most important factor is mutual satisfaction. Rather than suffering in silence, couples who are having problems should immediately contact a health care provider because many causes are treatable.
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