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Rev Up a Low Libido

By Emma Alvarez Gibson
WebMD Feature

It happens to a lot of guys, but few of them want to talk about it -- especially when “it” is a low libido. After all, virility plays a big role in our concept of manhood. There’s this idea you’re supposed to live up to: "Real men are always in the mood."

But that’s not true. Lots of men have low sex drive, for a lot of reasons. And there are many ways to treat it.

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What Causes It?

Any number of things, some physical and some psychological. Sometimes it’s both.

Physical issues that can cause low libido include low testosterone, prescription medicines, too little or too much exercise, and alcohol and drug use. Psychological issues can include depression, stress, and problems in your relationship.

About 4 out of 10 men over age 45 have low testosterone. While testosterone replacement therapy remains somewhat controversial, it’s also a common solution to the problem.

“Replacement therapy with any of the various testosterones available can boost libido,” says M. Leon Seard, II, MD, a urologist in Nashville, TN. “Also, simply getting healthy can help.”

No one thing causes low libido. So it’s crucial to talk to your doctor if you're worried your sex drive has dropped.

Once he figures out the causes, he can tell you the best course of action, or refer you to another doctor who can.

How Is It Treated?

Depending on the cause, possible treatments include:

  • Healthier lifestyle choices. Improve your diet, get regular exercise and enough sleep, cut down on the alcohol, and reduce stress.
  • Change to a new medication, if the one you’re on is affecting your libido
  • Testosterone replacement therapy
  • Counseling

Your doctor may recommend therapy if the issue is psychological. In many cases, a low libido points to a desire for a closer connection with your partner -- one that isn’t sexual, but still intimate. It can help to talk through these issues with a therapist, either alone or with your partner. If the issue is depression, antidepressants can help. Some of them actually lower your sex drive, though.

What about the meds you may have seen in TV and magazine ads, like Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra? These don’t boost libido. They help you get and keep erections.

The bottom line: Know your body and tell your doctor what you’re feeling. Don’t hold back. That’s the only way he’ll know whether the root of the problem is physical, psychological, or both.

And the sooner you know, the sooner you can get back to feeling like yourself again.

Reviewed on December 13, 2015
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