Stressed man sitting in conference room
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Sex-Drive Killer: Stress

Some people do many things well when they're stressed. Feeling sexy usually isn't one of them. Stress at work, home, or in relationships can happen to anyone. Learning how to handle it in a healthy way really helps. You can do a lot of it yourself, and a counselor or doctor can also help.

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Arguing couple on sofa
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Sex-Drive Killer: Partner Problems

Problems with your partner are among the top sex-drive killers. For women, feeling close is a major part of desire. For both sexes, watch for fallout from fights, poor communication, feeling betrayed, or other trust issues. If it's tricky to get back on track, reach out to a couples counselor.

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Drunken man passed out on sofa
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Sex-Drive Killer: Alcohol

A drink may make you feel more open to sex. But too much alcohol can numb your sex drive. Being drunk can also be a turn-off for your partner. If you have trouble drinking less, seek help.

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Silhouette of houses at night with single light on
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Sex-Drive Killer: Too Little Sleep

If your sexual get-up-and-go is gone, maybe you're not getting enough sleep. Do you go to bed too late or rise too early? Do you have a sleep problem like trouble falling or staying asleep, or a condition such as sleep apnea? Anything that messes with a good night's rest can mess with sex. Fatigue saps sexy feelings. Work on your sleep habits, and if that doesn't help, talk to your doctor.

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Couple in bed with newborn between them
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Sex-Drive Killer: Having Kids

You don't lose your sex drive once you're a parent. However, you do lose some time to be close with kids under foot. Hire a babysitter to nurture some time to be partners as well as parents. New baby? Try sex during baby's nap time.

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man taking sleep aid
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Sex-Drive Killer: Medication

Some drugs can turn down desire. They include some of these types of medications:

  • Antidepressants
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Birth control pills (some studies show a link; others don't)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Anti-HIV drugs
  • Finasteride

Switching drugs or dosages may help -- ask your doctor about that and never stop taking any medicine on your own. Tell your doctor, too, if  your sex drive stalls soon after you start taking a new drug.

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Woman looking at her rear end in mirror
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Sex Drive Killer: Poor Body Image

Feeling sexy is easier if you like how you look. Work on accepting your body as it is today, even if you're working to get in shape. Feeling good about yourself can put you in the mood. If your partner has low esteem, assure them that they're sexy.

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Woman checking her weight on upright scale
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Sex-Drive Killer: Obesity

When you're overweight or obese, desire often dims. It could be that you don't enjoy sex, can't perform like you want to, or are held back by low self-esteem. Working on how you feel about yourself, with a counselor if needed, may make a big difference.

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Unhappy man being consoled by woman
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Sex-Drive Killer: Erection Problems

Men with ED (erectile dysfunction) often worry about how they will be able to perform sexually, and that worry can drain their desire. ED can be treated, and couples can also work to keep it from affecting their relationship.

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Senior man and young man on beach with surfboard
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Sex-Drive Killer: Low T

The "T" hormone, testosterone, fuels sex drive. As men age, their T levels may drop a bit. Not all lose the desire for sex as this happens, but some do. Many other things -- from relationships to weight -- also affect a man's sex drive and testosterone levels, so there's not a one-size-fits-all answer for every man.

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depressed woman
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Sex-Drive Killer: Depression

Being depressed can shut off pleasure in many things, including sex. That's one of many reasons to get help. If your treatment involves medication, tell your doctor if your sex drive is low, since some (but not all) depression drugs lower sex drive. Talk about it with your therapist, too.  

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Mature woman watching the sunset from a rowboat
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Sex-Drive Killer: Menopause

For many women, sex drive dims around menopause. That's partly about symptoms such as vaginal dryness and pain during sex. But every woman is different, and it's possible to have a great sex life after menopause by tending to your relationship, self esteem, and overall health.

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man massaging spouse
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Sex-Drive Killer: Lack of Closeness

Sex without feeling close can slay desire. Intimacy is more than just sex. If your sex life is idling, try spending more non-sexual time together, just the two of you. Talk, snuggle, trade massages. Find ways to express love without having sex. Getting closer can rebuild your sex drive.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 05/08/2018 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 08, 2018

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SOURCES:

Columbia University, Go Ask Alice: "Birth control pills causing my low sex drive?" "Does exercise rev up my sex drive?"

Davis, A. "Oral Contraceptives and Libido in Women," Annual Review of Sex Research, 2004.

Davis, S. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2008.

Diaz, V. Primary Care, September 2010.

Fisher, H. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, published online, Nov. 13, 2006.

Frank, J. American Family Physician, March 1, 2008.

Hartmann, U. Menopause, November/December 2004.

KidsHealth: "Becoming a Father."

Kolotkin, R. Obesity Reviews, 2001.

Lebovitch, S. The Urologic Clinics of North America, February 1, 2008.

Leproult, R. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011.

MedlinePlus: "Low Testosterone Reference Summary."

Nappi, R. European Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology & Reproductive Biology, March 2008. 

The North American Menopause Society: "Fixes for a Stalled Sex Life."

NYU Langone Medical Center: "Female Sexual Dysfunction," "Psychosexual Dysfunction."

Phillips, R. American Family Physician, Aug. 15, 2000.

Rakel, R. Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th edition, Saunders, 2011.

Sanchez, D. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Dec. 1, 2007.

Stern, T. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry, 1st edition, Mosby, 2008.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, McKinley Health Center: "What You Should Know About Sex & Alcohol."

University of Virginia School of Medicine: "Sexual Function Across Life Cycle in Women."

Wein, A. Campbell-Walsh Urology, 10th edition, Saunders, 2011.

WomensHealth.gov: "Menopause."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 08, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.