What is libido?


Libido is the appetite or sexual attraction. Human libido is motivated by brain function, hormones, and learned behaviors, regardless of gender, and tends to fluctuate with mental state, hormonal changes, and stress. Certain medications can also affect sex drive.

Brianna Gilmartin / Get Medication Information

Understanding libido

When a person has a high libido, they are more likely to desire sexual intimacy and seek it with a partner or through masturbation. This is normal and normal, but an excessively high libido that affects quality of life can be a sign of hormonal imbalance or a neurological disorder. When libido decreases, interest in sex also decreases and can be completely absent, which can create tension in intimate relationships. Once a diagnosis is made and the cause is determined, both extremes can be treated.

The neural pathways involved in sexual desire are similar in men and women and include cerebral, spinal, and peripheral components. Libido is directly correlated with physical responses: When sexual desire is high, blood flow to the penis leading to an erection means sexual desire, as does lubrication and enlargement of the lips .

Excessively high libido

There is a noticeable difference between having a strong libido and being too high. In fact, in addition to promoting a satisfying sex life, the former have health benefits, including:

  • Less stress
  • Better mental health
  • Healthy relationships
  • Increased confidence
  • Better sleep
  • More exercise

This is when the sex drive is so strong that it seems out of control and interferes with daily life, which can be cause for concern.


Your libido is potentially excessively high if:

  • Your sex life begins to affect your life, your relationships, your health, and your work.
  • Sexual desire takes over your thoughts and behavior.
  • You are using sex to deal with mental problems such as depression or anxiety.
  • Your relationship is at risk due to your high sex drive.
  • After sex, you feel empty or unsatisfied.

If you have persistent sexual urges that are uncomfortable or out of your control, you may have a hypersexual disorder .


An excessively high libido is nothing to be ashamed of and can have a medical cause, for example:

  • High levels of the neurochemicals that regulate mood, dopamine, serotonin, or both
  • Certain medications
  • A condition that affects parts of the brain that can affect sexual behavior, such as epilepsy or dementia .

Watch out

Once the cause of the excessively high libido is identified, treatment can be prescribed to treat the problem. For example, if a drug is the culprit, the dosage may be changed or a different drug prescribed.

Similarly, once identified and treated, an underlying brain disorder may no longer affect sex drive. Other strategies, including psychotherapy and vigorous physical activity, can also help.

Low libido

Decreased sex drive is more common than excessively high libido and has more potential causes, most of which, once identified, can be treated by restoring sexual interest.


There are no clinical criteria to diagnose low libido. Also, there is great variation in how this is experienced (as one person's "normal" sex drive may seem high or low to another). However, commonly referred symptoms include:

  • Loss of desire for a partner.
  • Lack of interest in masturbation.
  • Few or no sexual fantasies
  • Stress or anxiety from a lack of interest in sex.

A persistently low libido can be a sign of hypoactive sexual desire disorder , which is a lack of desire and a lack of sexual fantasies for a long period of time.


Hormonal changes are a common cause of low libido. People of both genders may experience a decrease in libido in response to decreased levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, with low testosterone being the main suspect .

Low testosterone, also known as low testosterone, is a particularly serious problem for men because, in addition to affecting libido, testosterone stimulates sperm production and helps increase muscle mass. If you are interested in fertility, you may want to consider taking medications to increase your testosterone levels .

Very low levels of testosterone, below 300 nanograms per deciliter of blood, are called "hypogonadism." This disease affects 3 to 4 million men in the United States. For most of them, testosterone levels begin to decline after age 30 .

Low libido is not the same as erectile dysfunction, although both can cause stress, confusion, and friction between partners.

Women may also experience a decrease in sexual desire due to low testosterone levels, but for most, a decrease in estrogen is a more likely problem. In a 2008 study, 26% of premenopausal women and 52% of postmenopausal women (decreased estrogen during menopause) struggled with low sex drive.

People of any gender identity can be sensitive to a long list of emotional and medical factors associated with low libido. High levels of stress are common, which can affect hormones and affect the fight or flight response, in which heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration increase dramatically in response to a stressful situation and hormones that are known to decline libido. – cortisol. and adrenaline is released. This can cause sexual desire to evaporate completely.

Other possible causes of low libido include:

Watch out

The key to effectively treating low libido is identifying the cause. In many cases, a combination of approaches may be required to improve sexual desire.

Changes in lifestyle

When a certain habit is likely to be associated with a low libido, such as a sedentary lifestyle, it can be helpful to change your behavior, such as:

  • More exercise
  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet.
  • Stress management
  • Stop smoking, using drugs, or using alcohol excessively
  • Communicate more directly with your sexual partner about your needs.

Behavior therapy

A sex therapist can help you (and your partner, if you decide to attend the sessions together) to identify the emotional sources of your lack of sexual desire. They can also offer practical tips and tricks on how to increase desire and pleasure in the bedroom.


Only a few drugs are known to help increase the quenching of libido. For women, these are Addyi (flibanserin) and Bremelanotide Vyleesi (bremelanotide).

For men, erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra (sildenafil) can be helpful, although increasing libido is not the primary goal of these medications.

If you are taking medications that you suspect may be affecting your sex drive, do not stop taking them without first talking to your doctor. They can adjust the dose or prescribe a different medicine.

Hormonal therapy

Hormone replacement therapy strategies are more effective than prescription drugs, including:

  • Testosterone replacement therapy, which can be injected, topical, nasal, or oral gel.
  • Intrarose (prasterone), a suppository that is inserted into the vagina to relieve pain during sexual intercourse.

Get the word of drug information

Sex drive can be a touchy subject. Whether you experience your libido as if it is on edge, or you have little or no appetite for physical intimacy, you may feel uncomfortable thinking about it, let alone talking about it with your partner or even your healthcare professional. .. But remember, the person who loves you, the health professionals and therapists who specialize in sexual problems, want nothing more than to help you. What's more, while the solution to normalizing your sex drive isn't always easy, it probably exists and is worth looking for.

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