The main sex hormones are testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Their imbalance leads to a worse sex drive both in men and women.

Another word for sex drive, libido, describes a person’s desire for sexual activity – there is no numeric measurement for libido, but it’s usually referred to as being low or high. There are many things that can affect sex drive from biological reasons to social or psychological factors. L

Sex hormones

The main sex hormones are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. While we associate progesterone and estrogen with the menstrual cycle, and testosterone with sperm production, all three of these hormones are present to some extent in both male and female bodies.

Male Sex Drive

Male sex drive tends to fluctuate more frequently, with testosterone levels rising and falling throughout the day. Sex drive is often highest for males in the morning when testosterone levels are greatest – this is why men often wake with an erection, a physical sign of libido being high. Testosterone levels typically decrease throughout the day and are lowest late at night.

As well as fluctuating in a 24-hour period, testosterone levels also typically decrease throughout a man’s lifetime. Testosterone levels are usually at their highest levels during teenage years and start to decline after this point. Mirroring this dip in testosterone, the sex drive also tends to decline as men get older.

As well as affecting male libido, testosterone also helps regulate:

  • sperm production;
  • development of sex organs;
  • hair growth;
  • muscle development and bone mass;
  • when the voice breaks in puberty;
  • the production of red blood cells.

Estradiol, a form of estrogen is also present in the male body and is linked to libido, erectile function, and sperm production. Progesterone also plays a key role in regulating estrogen and is also required to make testosterone.

Causes of Low Sex Drive

There are so many factors that can impact libido, these can be physical, psychological, or caused by external factors or lifestyle. Sex drive typically decreases after menopause in women, but also generally declines in men as they age as well.

Impacting libido, increased stress, anxiety, or mental health problems can decrease the desire for sex. Unfortunately, many medications used to treat anxiety or depression can also cause a slump in sex drive. Drug use, smoking, and alcohol also affect sex drive negatively.

We are all prone to notice changes in our sex drive throughout our lifetimes. Generally, periods, when you have a low libido, shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but if you notice a change in your sex drive or find a lack of libido is impacting your well-being you should speak to a doctor. In some cases, therapy can be used to combat stress, which in turn can combat low libido or erectile dysfunction in men.

While it might seem like it is everywhere, from the saucy song lyrics playing on the radio to the sexed-up yogurt commercials on TV, recent studies have shown that our interest in actually having sex is declining over time. Take research into this topic with a pinch of salt though, as societal pressures and social norms mean those asked about sex might not always be entirely truthful, contributing further to false perceptions of what a healthy desire for sex might be.

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