What is low sex drive?

Low sex drive is the term used to describe a lack of interest in sex. Sexual desire, or sex drive, happens because of a combination of biological, personal and relationship factors.

Sexual desire is different for each person, and can change over time depending on what’s happening in a person’s life. Some people aren’t concerned about having low sex drive. However, if you lose interest in sex for no apparent reason, and it worries you, talking to a doctor can be helpful.

What causes low sex drive?

Low sex drive can be caused by short-term or long-term conditions, particularly depression.

Low levels of testosterone (or androgen deficiency) can also cause low sex drive.

It’s often difficult to understand how much of your sex drive is affected by physical or psychological factors, especially if you have chronic illness, chronic pain, fatigue or body image problems (e.g. following surgery for cancer).

Diabetes can cause low testosterone levels, which leads to low sex drive. On top of this, sometimes other effects of diabetes, such as difficulty getting an erection, can lower your interest in sex.

What can I do?

If you’re worried about low sex drive, the best thing you can do is to see your doctor.

Prescription medicines, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medicines, as well as frequent alcohol or marijuana use, can lower your feelings of sexual desire.

Other factors that can affect sex drive include: stress or tiredness from work, too little or too much exercise, and feelings of dissatisfaction with a relationship.

How is low sex drive treated?

The treatment for low sex drive varies from person to person.

If you lose interest in sex for no obvious reason, a doctor can do a variety of checks and tests to try to find the cause. Counselling can also be helpful for finding out whether there are psychological or relationship issues that could be affecting your interest in sex.

If you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar levels might help improve your interest in sex.

If you have low sex drive because of low testosterone (androgen deficiency), then you might need testosterone therapy.

If you have normal testosterone levels, testosterone treatment will not help to improve your sex drive.

The best way to figure out how to deal with low sex drive is to speak to a doctor.

Your doctor’s appointment

Things to think about before your appointment

  • How long have you been experiencing a change in your sex drive (libido)?

  • Can you think of anything that happened in your life and health around the time your sex drive (libido) declined?

  • Do you have a partner and are they aware of the problem? Is this affecting your relationship?

  • Have you recently had any other health problems or started any new medication?

  • Do you have erectile dysfunction?

Email these questions to yourself to take into your doctor's appointment.

Resources

Low Sex Drive Fact Sheet Image Tile

Fact sheet

Low sex drive fact sheet