Low Sex Drive in Men: Causes and Treatments

Jenna Hilton
September 13, 2023

Low sex drive can seriously undermine male self-esteem and become a source of great emotional distress. Luckily, there are ways to overcome this frustrating condition, regain sexual interest, and rebuild lost confidence.

Identifying underlying factors for reduced sexual desire is fundamental in tackling this health issue and restoring virility.

This article explores 12 causes of low libido in men and offers effective treatment methods.

low sex drive in men

What Is Low Low Sex Drive in Men?

Low libido in men is a temporary or long-term state of decreased interest in sexual activities, intimate interactions, and related behavior. It includes a lack of motivation for sexual intercourse, masturbation, or sexual fantasies.

Reduced sexual desire is typically a sign of an underlying, treatable health condition.

Low sex drive and erectile dysfunction (ED) are distinct yet commonly conflated medical terms. The following chart lays out key points of difference:

Low Sex Drive in MenErectile Dysfunction (ED)
What are the symptoms?- Reduced sexual engagement
- Diminished sex drive
- Aversion to physical intimacy
- Emotional dissatisfaction
- Irritability or anxiety
- Negative self-image
- Fatigue
- Depression
Difficulty achieving an erection, maintaining an erection, or a complete loss of ability to achieve an erection. Both physical and psychological factors contribute to ED.
What are the triggers?Hormonal imbalance, medication, medical conditions, aging, stress, or mental health problems. Low testosterone levels often lead to reduced libido.High blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, restless leg syndrome (RLS), medication, aging, or mental health problems.  
Do they overlap?Low libido does not entail any physical sexual dysfunction. Loss of sexual desire may accompany or contribute to ED.The sexual urge remains strong or wanes, depending on the accompanying psychological factors.  
What are the treatment options?Testosterone replacement therapy, supplementation, medication, and psychotherapy.Medication, lifestyle changes, and medical interventions or devices, such as vacuum constriction devices (VCD).

Note: Read about symptoms and causes of low sex drive in women.

How to Know If Sex Drive Is Low?

There is no universal benchmark for a “normal” sex drive in men, and the medical community does not endorse such all-encompassing labels or terms. Sexual desire is highly individual, unpredictable, and prone to change at any time. Every adult male has a unique sexual response, behavior, and preferences.

To determine an out-of-range sex drive, compare it with your typical sexual behavior and urges. This comparison will ensure an accurate diagnosis and a suitable treatment strategy.

What Causes Low Sex Drive in Men?

Causes for low libido in men can be hormone-triggered, age-related, or associated with a health condition. Lifestyle choices may also weaken or eliminate sexual motivation. Addressing the root cause is the first step in treating this problem.

1. Low Testosterone Levels

Testosterone increases sex drive by regulating reproductive development, sexual behavior, and maintaining a healthy sexual function in men. Suboptimal testosterone levels can cause a dip in male libido and impact the person’s emotional wellbeing.

Temporary hormonal shifts can cause a short-lived decrease in sexual desire. On the other hand, men with chronically low testosterone levels can lose interest in sexual activities altogether. Furthermore, a decline in this hormone may provoke other health issues (e.g., hair loss, sweating, fatigue, irritability, brain fog) that indirectly diminish the desire for intimacy.

Testosterone deficiency can appear as a consequence of:

  • Aging
  • Dysfunctional thyroid
  • Testicle injury
  • Hypogonadism (insufficient testosterone production)
  • Chronic diseases
  • Obesity
  • Medications
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cancer

2. Medications

Certain types of medications can lower testosterone levels, resulting in low libido. These include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Corticosteroids
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Opioid pain relievers (e.g., morphine, oxycodone)
  • Ketoconazole
  • Cimetidine, also known as Tagamet
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Hormone therapy for prostate cancer

Inform your doctor about all the medication you are currently taking. You may have to switch medications, adjust the dosage, or choose an alternative therapy method.

3. Medical Conditions

Chronic illnesses diminish sexual interest by disrupting hormonal activity, increasing physical discomfort, and impacting overall wellbeing. Sexual disorders, such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or delayed ejaculation, can worsen the condition and increase anxiety about sexual performance.

The following health conditions can take a toll on male sex drive:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines
  • Hypothyroidism
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperprolactinemia
  • Cancer

4. Depression

Frequent mood swings, persistent sadness, and low energy levels inhibit men’s desire to engage in sexual activities. Emotional intimacy requires a degree of vulnerability that can be mentally draining while battling depression.

Mental health problems can decrease libido in the following ways:

  • Loss of interest – All previously enjoyable activities, including hobbies, sports, sex, etc., lose their appeal.
  • Neurochemical imbalance – The “feel-good” neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, lose the ability to regulate mood, emotions, and sexual desire.
  • Low energy levels – The physical aspect of an intimate encounter becomes physically exhausting and energy-draining.
  • Mood swings – Feeling irritable, anxious, or moody hinders the enjoyment of any pleasurable activity.
  • Reduced self-esteem – A distorted view of oneself creates a negative body image, undermines self-confidence, and enhances anxiety about sexual performance.
  • Antidepressant side effects – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can disrupt the communication between the brain and sex organs, discouraging further sexual behavior.

Note: Discover how hormonal shifts cause depression and learn ways to relieve its symptoms.

5. Weight Gain

Weight gain can contribute to low libido in men through multiple mechanisms that often interact with each other.

Excess body fat, particularly around the abdomen, can lead to increased production of estrogen and decreased levels of testosterone, which is crucial for male sex drive and performance. Additionally, being overweight is often associated with conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which impair blood flow and lead to erectile dysfunction.

On the psychological level, weight gain impacts self-esteem and lowers mood, which dampens sexual desire.

Additionally, the effect of carrying extra weight, such as reduced stamina and respiratory issues, can make intercourse physically exhausting, further reducing libido.

6. Stress

Chronic stress impacts overall health, including sexual wellbeing. Feeling tense, nervous, or agitated takes the mind off any romantic endeavors and makes sexual arousal virtually impossible.

Prolonged stress impacts male libido in the following ways:

  • Hormonal disruption – Elevated cortisol levels activate the “fight-or-flight”, suppressing testosterone production that initiates sexual desire.
  • Reduced blood flow – Arteries become narrow, constricting blood flow. Poor circulation increases the risk of erectile dysfunction that contributes to low libido.
  • Low energy – Excessive stress can cause adrenal fatigue, resulting in reduced interest in sexual activities due to exhaustion.
  • Negative mood – Feeling irritable or anxious due to high cortisol diminishes libido in men regardless of their age.

Note: Learn how to lower cortisol levels naturally and minimize the effects of daily stress.

7. Aging

Men experience a gradual decline in sex drive as they age and testosterone levels decrease. The degree of libido loss is unpredictable and variable. Contributing health factors include an endocrine disorder, chronic disease, medication side effects, alcoholism, depression, etc.

8. Sleep Problems

Sleep is vital for male reproductive health, including optimal sperm count, erectile function, and healthy libido. Most testosterone release occurs during sleep, enabling men to enjoy regular sexual activities.

Lack of sleep can reduce male sex drive by disrupting the following mechanisms:

  • High cortisol levels – Fragmented sleep elevates cortisol levels, contributing to more stress and lowering testosterone levels.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - Scientific research has established a link between lower testosterone levels and sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by frequent interruptions due to breathing difficulties.
  • Sleep deprivationStudies show that even one week of disturbed sleep can severely impact testosterone levels in young, healthy males.
  • Reduced dopamine uptake – Insufficient sleep inhibits dopamine receptors that elicit sexual desire, erection, and ejaculation.

Note: Read about how hormones trigger insomnia and ways to secure deep, restorative sleep.

9. Substance Abuse

Recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco can lower sperm count and lead to infertility by reducing testosterone production. This hormonal imbalance may interfere with sexual desire and alter typical sexual behavior.

Marijuana suppresses the pituitary gland responsible for testosterone production, while cigarette smoking disrupts optimal sexual function.

Consuming 10 to 14 alcoholic beverages weekly may weaken male libido by decreasing testosterone levels, increasing estrogen production, and stimulating testosterone discharge through the bloodstream.

10. Excessive or Inadequate Exercise

Both a sedentary lifestyle and physical overexertion can impair sexual behavior and reduce male libido. Lack of movement increases the risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes or obesity, that can lower sexual desire. Reduced blood flow, poor energy levels, and reduced mobility due to little or no exercise can further impair sexual function.

On the other hand, overtraining stresses out the body, leading to burnout, fatigue, and inability to be physically intimate or aroused.

11. Low Self-Esteem

Men with a negative body image or low self-confidence struggle to enjoy sexual activities. They often experience performance anxiety, fearing they won’t meet their partner’s expectations.

Feeling undesirable, unattractive, and insecure distorts male self-perception, reducing sexual desire. Thus, low self-esteem damages emotional and sexual wellbeing, creating a vicious cycle that is hard to break.

12. Relationship Issues

Lack of open communication and emotional availability in a relationship produces a psychological strain for both partners. Conflicts can easily flare up and carry over into the bedroom, leading to less intimacy, reduced sex drive, and greater emotional distance.

Loss of connection may also result from trust issues, infidelity, or incompatible sexual preferences. Regardless of the cause, restoring trust and a firm bond is crucial for rekindling romance and increasing sexual satisfaction.

13. A Traumatic Sexual Experience

Reduced sex drive in men may stem from an unresolved childhood trauma. Inconsistent caregiving, domestic violence, or sexual abuse profoundly impact mental, emotional, and sexual health. These consequences typically extend well into adulthood.

Men who have had a traumatic experience or have lived in a neglectful environment may struggle to show their feelings and connect. They can also develop sexual aversions, fears, and insecurities.

This type of problem requires professional psychological support and individual counseling.

How to Increase Sex Drive in Men?

how to increase low sex drive in men

Addressing the underlying health issue is the first step in increasing male sex drive. Your medical provider will recommend the best treatment option based on the root cause of decreased libido.

Here are some of the treatments that help increase male sex drive:

  • Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) – Patients with low testosterone levels can receive TRT through injections, pills, or skin patches. Studies confirm that this therapy effectively enhances sex drive and offers numerous other health benefits, such as better mood, more energy, and improved cognition.
  • Medication – Inform your primary care physician about your current medication to eliminate any side effects that affect libido and consider prescription drugs for maximizing your sexual performance.
  • Supplements – Many vitamin and mineral supplements reduce stress and balance hormones, allowing the body to recuperate, energize, and restore sexual vitality. Some of the most potent libido-enhancing products include Vibrant Libido M, Osmosis MD Hormone Relief Elixir, and Elevate.
  • Herbal remedies – Natural plant-based solutions for low male sex drive include maca, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and fenugreek.
  • Stress management – A stress-reduction program can reduce cortisol levels and maintain a healthy, stable emotional environment. Popular stress-management tools include breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, guided relaxation programs, or massage.
  • Weight loss Losing excess weight has a positive impact on hormone levels, cardiovascular health, stamina, and self-esteem – all essential elements for boosting sex drive.
  • Lifestyle changes – A well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and enough sleep are three essential components of healthy sexual wellbeing and behavior.
  • Counseling – Seek professional support to resolve any underlying psychological problems. Depending on the root cause, you can try individual psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), couples therapy, or sex therapy.
  • Open communication - The goal is to learn how to be comfortable talking with your partner about your intimate concerns. Feeling at ease while communicating is of utmost importance for sexual healing and regaining trust.

Note: Schedule your total testosterone therapy in Phoenix, at Vibrant Vitality Clinic.


Male sex drive is a controversial, little-understood topic. Identifying the causes of low libido can help men rebuild self-confidence and enjoy sexual activities again. Since both young and older men can experience this health condition, adequate treatment and expert advice remain essential.

Contact the Vibrant Vitality Clinic staff for more information about male sexual health.

Jenna Hilton
Jenna Hilton has been a practicing PA since 2009, specializing in Family, Internal Medicine and Medical Aesthetics. She attended Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree and graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University.

Jenna has been injecting neurotoxin and dermal filler since 2013. She received certification as a Master Injector in 2017 through Empire Medical in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working on a Fellowship Program in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her special interests include use of PLLA, Ablative/Non ablative skin resurfacing, PDO threads, hormone therapy and nutritional therapies to improve cellular regeneration and medically supervised weight loss.

Jenna Hilton believes in a multi-factorial approach, considering internal factors that accelerate aging and disease development. She always enjoys teaching. She co-founded Vibrant EDU courses at Vibrant Skin Bar and regularly performs one-on-one training with fellow injectors. She teaches Aesthetic and Advanced Injectable Courses at National Laser Institute. She has been named Preceptor of the Year and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Midwestern University. She was born in Iowa, and lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, AZ.

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