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Loss of Libido in Men

Why men lose interest in sex -- and 8 tips to rekindle desire.
By Susan Seliger
WebMD Feature

Men don't like to talk about it; neither do their partners. But loss of libido in men or inhibited sexual desire stresses a marriage more than any other sexual dysfunction, according to Barry McCarthy, co-author of Rekindling Desire: A Step by Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No-Sex Marriages.

Losing interest in sex may not be as common an occurrence for men as it is for women: It affects about 15% to 16% of men, and at least double that many women. "But when men lose interest in sex it scares them more than women -- their masculinity is so linked to their sexuality that it is very threatening," says Esther Perel, a couples therapist in New York city and author of Mating in Captivity.

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Loss of libido also makes men more unhappy about the rest of their lives than it does women. Only 23% of men with loss of libido say they still feel very happy about life in general vs. 46% of women, says Edward Laumann, professor of sociology at the University of Chicago co-author of The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. "It bothers men more."

But loss of libido is not something you have to live with. There is much you can do to regain your sex drive and your happy outlook on life.

How Do You Know if You have a Problem With Loss of Libido?

Libido loss doesn't usually happen suddenly - it's not like catching a cold where you wake up one morning and whoops, there it is. It can be a gradual process. Though difficult to define precisely, Laumann measures it as follows: "It is a lack of interest in sex for several months of the past year."

Frequency of sexual activity is not the best measure of sexual interest - so many circumstances can get in the way of an encounter, even if the desire is there. But if you are in a committed relationship and having sex less often than the norm -- about once a week - you might ask yourself whether you are happy with things as they are.

If you're not happy about your loss of libido, researchers agree that it is best to grapple with these issues before they become entrenched. To help identify the early warning signs, see whether you answer the following questions true or false:

  1. Touching takes place only in the bedroom.
  2. Sex does not give you feelings of connection and sharing.
  3. One of you is always the initiator and the other feels pressured.
  4. You no longer look forward to sex.
  5. Sex is mechanical and routine.
  6. You almost never have sexual thoughts or fantasies about your spouse.
  7. You have sex once or twice a month at most.

"If you answered true to many or most of these questions, you may be on your way to losing sexual desire," writes McCarthy. Understanding the various causes is the first step to finding the appropriate resolution.

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