Nov. 7, 2001 -- Which sexual problem do men find hardest to
discuss? Well, it's not premature ejaculation, which the Journal of the
American Medical Association cites as the most common sexual dysfunction.
And it's certainly not erectile dysfunction, which even a former presidential
candidate has discussed in detail on national television. No, the answer is low
sex drive, or low "mojo," as Austin Powers would put it.
What defines a low libido for an individual is subjective and
depends upon many variables, says Richard Kogan, M.D., a psychiatrist in
private practice who specializes in the treatment of sexual dysfunction in New
York City. Physical and mental health are key factors, and although many men
are happy exceptions to the trend, sex drive generally decreases with age.
First and foremost, we're trying to bring as much attention as possible to
kidney disease; educate the general public about risk factors such as high
blood pressure, diabetes, and family history; share the warning signs and the
importance of regularly seeing your doctor; and highlight organ donation. So
many people have kidney disease and just don't know it, which is why it's so
important to create a relationship with your doctor. The National Kidney
Foundation provides free kidney screenings...
"Impotence and loss of libido are two very separate
things," says Richard Milsten, MD, a New Jersey-based urologist and
co-author of The Sexual Male. However, men who experience impotence
commonly experience a decrease in libido over time, he adds. When libido drops
and impotence, or erectile dysfunction, is not a problem, there are numerous
factors a doctor might suspect as the cause.
When You're Sick, Libido Suffers
Any medical problem or chronic physical condition can reduce a
man's sex drive. If a man is diagnosed with cancer, sex may be the furthest
thing from his mind for a time. But even minor illnesses can diminish a man's
sexual interest. Conversely, when men improve their health -- through exercise,
a low-fat diet, or, if necessary, medical treatment -- their libido is likely
While any illness can decrease sex drive, some conditions, such
as thyroid disease, tumors of the pituitary gland (which controls most hormone
production, including sex hormones), and depression, are directly linked to low
libido, according to Milsten. Similarly, insufficient amounts of the male sex
hormone testosterone may cause low libido, though such a condition is unlikely
to affect erectile function. Kogan advises men who feel their physical
condition has decreased their sex drive to consult a physician, keeping in mind
that loss of libido is sometimes the only recognizable symptom of a medical