Men. High sex drive. Panting sexual animals. We know what they want. And we know when they want it – right now!
Even doctors tend to see men as sexual automatons always hardwired to want sex – but that’s not the case at all. Many, many men (about 1 in 5) have such low sexual desire they’d rather do almost anything else instead of sex.
Hypoactive Sexual Disorder
1 in 5 men don’t want to have sex? How can that be true? And why haven’t we heard about this before? Well, many women have. These are the women who often hear “not tonight, Dear.” Most people believe that this is a rare occurrence, but in fact, almost 30% of women say they have more interest in sex than their partner.
There are many reasons why your libido can suffer. Aging can play a role in a decreased sex drive as hormones start to fluctuate; however, there are still many older men who have a robust interest in sex. Like almost every other human trait, sex drive varies. Most men are in the normal range, with some being extraordinarily driven towards addiction-like behavior and others having a very low libido at the other end. These are the men that suffer from hypoactive sexual disorder (HSDD).
Hypoactive sexual disorder or inhibited sexual desire is considered a sexual dysfunction and is characterized as a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity, as judged by a treating health professional.
How Can We Help Men?
This question has a more complex answer as it depends on what is determined to cause the problematic sexual low in the first place. If there are medical reasons, it is likely best to continue working with a medical professional to have those issues treated or managed appropriately.
Therapists suggest that shame and relational dynamics may ultimately prevent men from opening up and discussing the issue/s at hand. It is recommended that better communication and supportive partners could potentially reduce the impact of low libido.
There will always be men on both sides of the standard curve, with a certain percentage considered to have hypoactive sexual disorder for a whole host of reasons. These include:
- Psychological Issues: Stress and anxiety from the strain of daily life, relationship or family problems, depression, and mental disorders are among the many factors that can affect sexual desire. If you feel that you or your partner have psychological barriers that are getting in between your intimacy, it’s essential to seek professional help from someone who is trained to help you deal with the problem. It can be a challenging experience to go through, and tackling the issue as a team can often be one of the best ways to show your partner that you care.
- Medical Problems: Diseases such as diabetes or conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and HIV drugs, some hair-loss remedies and other medications can negatively affect your libido. If you regularly take medications, it may be a good idea to speak with your treating health professional to see if they may be changing your sex drive.
- Hormonal Causes: Testosterone is the hormone of desire, in both women and men. As the primary reproductive hormone in men, it can have an enormous effect on your sexual appetites. Testosterone levels tend to decrease as men age, but can also be affected by chronic diseases, medications or other drug usages. Low levels of thyroid hormone and prolactin can also have an effect on libido – but to a much smaller extent.
- Low Dopamine Levels: Sexual desire involves the brain. The brain’s chemical messaging system is intimately linked with sexual desire. Dopamine is responsible for the regulation of 3 main areas: mood regulation, muscle movement, and motivation. It’s also one of the main chemicals involved during the euphoria of orgasm. If dopamine levels are not high enough, then you or your partner may experience a lack of motivation in the bedroom. Many factors can affect your dopamine levels – 1 of the major ones being consistent drug or alcohol abuse. Regular drug or alcohol abusers suffer from extreme dopamine lows, which cause: lethargy, a downtrodden mood or even muscle tremors during withdrawal. Please see a doctor if you have any concerns.
It’s Important to Be Open
Each cause of sexual desire has its own treatment. When the root cause is psychological, sex therapy or counseling can offer men and women-specific techniques and strategies for regaining their enjoyment of sex. It’s not psychotherapy; it’s psychological counseling focused on sexual issues. If this is what’s holding you back, there is no shame in talking with a qualified professional. They can help you work through the problems you might be facing and provide you with specific techniques to help you cope better with your situation.
In cases where the problem is low testosterone, men can take testosterone supplements if they have measurably low levels. These supplements can be taken through injections, skin patches, or gel formulations applied directly to the skin on your chest, shoulder or abdomen. Please seek medical advice before starting treatments as hormone changes can negatively affect your health in certain situations.
Men don’t always want to admit that they have less than a high and constant interest in sex as there is, unfortunately, still a sense that this could make them be perceived as less ‘manly.’ As a result, it is difficult to know how many men are coming forward.
Until there is more social acceptance of sexual desire variation in men, we may never know the actual rates of low sexual desire among men or what leads to that decrease. However, even with these limitations, it is clear that low libido in men exists and that it may be more common than most people realize.