September 8, 2015

The Low Libido Checklist

SLideCoupleYour libido isn’t what it used to be. You pass it off to simply “getting older”. But, should you be concerned? You bet you should be concerned. Low libido is like a canary in the coal mine. It tells you trouble is ahead or that something bigger is going on. Even if having sex isn’t a top priorty of yours a decline in libido from your norm should not be ignored. Today we discuss the low libido checklist that can be used to identify possible reasons for a waning libido.

But, before we go into the checklist low libido at some point for many is not unusual. In fact, up to 80% of women will report having low libido at some point in their life. It becomes a problem, though, if it is chronic or persistent. Also, low libido isn’t necessarily a middle-aged or elderly adult phenomenon. Up to 28% of women ages 25-34 report low libido.

The Low Libido Checklist

There are four major areas to evaluate if you suffer from low libido.

  • Physical illness
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Emotional stress
  • Relationship issues

Physical illness

Illness affects libido in two ways; directly from a disease itself and indirectly from medications used to treat a disease.

Nearly every illness can cause low libido even something minor like a cold. If it’s an acute illness the effects on libido will be short-lived. The bigger concerns have to do with chronic illnesses. And, the biggest libido busters in this category are heart disease and diabetes. But, any chronic condition that affects blood flow, hormone levels, or has an inflammatory component can affect libido – and most chronic diseases affect at least one of those three areas.

There are several drug classes that can adversely affect libido. The best known class to affect libido is the antidepressants. Some of the newer antidepressants like Brintellix and Fetizma are supposed to be libido neutral. The other classes that do not get the same attention as the antidepressants that lower libido are the statin drugs to lower cholesterol and beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions. Their affect on libido may be more gradual than the antidepressants, consequently patients and physicians may not associate low libido to such medications.

Chronic narcotic use lowers testosterone levels which in turn lowers libido. Men and women on chronic narcotics should have their testosterone levels measured. More pain management doctors are in tuned to this possibility and I occasionally see referrals from pain management doctors to treat patients with narcotic induced androgen deficiency.

harmful-effects-380Lifestyle Habits

Lifestyle and chronic disease go hand in hand. Chances are if you have poor lifestyle habits you have at least one chronic disease. Smoking and alcohol consumption are the biggest lifestyle causes of low libido. But, also eating too much junk food can affect libido. Junk food can lower sperm quality, too as we discussed in this article. Junk food is high in trans fats and trans fat decreases the hormone-receptor complex activity and that may be one mechanism by which it affects libido. Eating more fruits and vegetables can improve libido. A sedentary lifestyle also contributes to lower libido.

Emotional Stress

Emotional stress is unavoidable and comes in many forms. Since it is unavoidable it’s essential that we develop adequate coping mechanisms for stress and find ways to relieve it (exercise for instance). It can help to identify your stressors and then find ways to avoid them, or if that is not possible develop strategies to cope with them. Also, planning less stressful periods of the day to have sex can be helpful.

Relationship Issues

This cause is sometimes overlooked. But, declining libido can be a sign that something is amiss with the relationship. Low libido in women is felt to lead one in four men to be unfaithful. Interesting, having sex can play a role in restoring a relationship as well. Intimate contact stimulates the production of oxytocin in both men and women. Oxytocin is sometimes called the love hormone or cuddling hormone and it can help a couple feel more connected.

Regardless of the cause of a relationship, it helps to establish a good line of communication with your partner  – not always easy – and discuss the situation. So if your partner’s libido is down maybe he or she is unhappy with the relationship. Don’t ignore it.

For more information see Low Libido in Women: the HARSH Reality and Low Libido in Women: Come to Your SENSES.

 

 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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