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Loss of Libido in Men

Why men lose interest in sex -- and 8 tips to rekindle desire.

What Accounts for Loss of Libido in Men?

The causes of this complex problem range from the physical and medical to the psychological and social. Quick fixes don't solve everything.

Impotence, or ED, erectile dysfunction, is not the same as loss of libido, but when you experience one, sooner or later you are likely to feel the other as well. "Only 7% of young men report being unable to keep an erection," Laumann says. Though ED does increase with age: "It's 12% by age 40, 18% for ages 50-59; and then a sharp rise by age 60 to 25%to 30%," says Laumann.

The good news: depending on the cause, "drugs can help that," Laumann says. Vasodilators, such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, enhance blood flow to the penis. It also helps to understand that it's normal for erections to come and go during lovemaking -- "It can happen two to five times in a 45-minute sexual session," McCarthy says.

  • Performance Anxiety and Loss of Libido

Men report two major problems -- anxiety about performance and climaxing too early, according to Laumann. Almost one in three men report premature ejaculation, while under one in five are worried about performance, according to Laumann.

And the anxiety doesn't stop there. Many modern, loving, and conscientious husbands feel they have not truly "performed" unless their partners climax during sex, too. And as Laumann's statistics show, only 26% of women report that they always experience orgasm during sex, compared with 75% of men. No wonder men feel the pressure - and performing under pressure can cause loss of libido.

  • Stress Leads to Loss of Libido

Job stress and self-esteem are also big factors. "If a man's performance at work is challenged, and he doesn't feel he is achieving or doesn't feel self-worth, he often numbs himself sexually," says Perel, "Desire is a healthy form of entitlement -- when you don't feel deserving, you shut down."

  • Medical Conditions Can Cause Loss of Libido

A variety of medical problems and chronic physical conditions can diminish a man's sex drive. Serious illnesses, such as cancer and depression, can certainly dampen any thoughts of sex. Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes can reduce blood flow to the body, including the genitals, wreaking havoc on libido as well. Chronic alcoholism and even occasional excessive alcohol consumption are notorious for inflaming desire but impeding performance. Conditions such as thyroid disorders and tumors of the pituitary gland (which controls most hormone production, including sex hormones) can also lower libido.

  • Medications Can Interfere With Libido

The class of depression drugs called SSRIs can inhibit desire. So can tranquilizers and blood pressure medications. Illicit substances, such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, when used heavily and chronically, may also cause loss of libido. On the positive side, when you talk to your doctor about these issues, there are alternative drugs for depression and other conditions that may have less of an impact on sexual desire.

  • The Quality of the Relationship Is an Important Part of Libido

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