There’s no objective way to measure your sex drive, as everyone is different. Some people are happy to have sex once a month, while for others five times a week isn’t enough and people who identify as asexual would rather do anything else. It’s also normal to feel more turned-on in some phases of your life than others – if you’re changing jobs, moving house, and trying to catch up on Westworld, the horizontal tango might be the last thing on your mind, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But if you become less interested in sex, masturbation, and fantasizing than you used to be for no clear reason, it might be worth seeing your doctor. That’s true even if the change doesn’t bother you, because it might be a sign of an underlying problem. Read on to find out some of the most common causes of a low sex drive.
All the old classics that are bad for your health will likely affect your sex life, too. Drinking heavily affects hormone regulation, which can make you lose interest in sex, as can using drugs and smoking cigarettes. Lack of exercise and not getting enough sleep have each been found to correlate with a dip in desire for sex, as they help keep hormones in check. Plus, it’s hard to feel sexy when you’re exhausted. A 2015 study found that one extra hour of sleep made women 14% more likely to have sex with their partner.
Anxiety is a big one, as is stress – which is commonly caused by work, money, or family problems. Depression can make people lose interest in daily life, so sex often seems unfulfilling or like too much effort. It’s possible your relationship is stressing you out, too, especially if you’ve been going through a tough time and your partner isn’t supporting you or feels overwhelmed by trying to help.
A low sex drive is associated with diabetes and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and changes in hormone balance after cancer treatment or giving birth. Some people find sex painful because of a lack of lubrication or a condition like endometriosis or IBS, which makes them want it less.
In some cases, it’s linked to hormonal birth control, as everyone reacts differently to different types. Medication for depression, seizures, or high blood pressure can also be a factor (but don’t stop taking it without a doctor’s supervision). If you’re not interested in sexual activity for months or years and are distressed by the fact, you might be diagnosed with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, which just means that your lack of sex drive is long-term. It’s thought to affect one in ten women.
What can do you if your sex drive is low?
Obviously, that depends on what’s causing it, and it could be a combination of factors. The most important thing is to see your doctor to check whether you have a condition that needs to be treated or medication that needs to be adjusted. They can also assess whether a referral to a psychologist or psychosexual therapist might help.
In the meantime, try stress management techniques like meditation, cut down on energy-sapping sugars and get some exercise – even if it’s just a ten-minute walk. If you have a partner, let them know how you feel and be open about any relationship issues that might subconsciously be turning you off.
It’s easier said than done, but also try not to obsess about it. Bear in mind that you never have to have sex if you don’t want to, but if you do, there are plenty of ways to get your mojo back.