Problems in the bedroom? You’re not alone. Almost 70% of couples have trouble with intimacy at some point during their relationship, and there are a variety of reasons why.
Many people shy away from speaking to their doctor about these problems because they’re embarrassed, or they think that there’s something wrong with them. But low sex drive, medically known as “sexual dysfunction,” is a very common problem that affects men and women of all ages.
The good news is that there are many steps you can take to revive your love life. Here are some of the most common causes and treatments for a diminishing sex drive:
A number of common medical conditions can cause problems that lead to sexual dysfunction:
Imbalanced hormones may result in low sex drive for either men or women. Women experience significant changes in hormone levels as they age, especially during and after menopause, when estrogen levels drop dramatically. Lower estrogen levels can reduce feelings of arousal and also cause vaginal dryness, which can lead to pain or discomfort during sex. Men also experience a drop in their sex hormone, testosterone, as they age. Similarly, reduced testosterone can lead to reduced sexual desire and fewer erections.
Sometimes the problem isn’t hormonal, but rather… mechanical. Erectile dysfunction (ED), trouble achieving or maintaining an erection, is a common condition that can be caused by a number of factors—physiological, psychological, and environmental. Often, ED is caused by a complex combination of multiple factors. Physiological causes include heart disease, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or even Peyronie’s disease, a buildup of scar tissue in the penis. Erectile dysfunction may also be a secondary complication of treatment for prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate.
The good news is that solutions abound. Medications can rebalance hormone levels and help correct erectile dysfunction. In some extreme cases of ED, a device or surgical implant may be used to help men achieve and maintain an erection. A urologist can help determine the root cause of your problems, and recommend appropriate treatment options, including lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery.
Psychological factors can also contribute to sexual dysfunction. Anxiety, depression or past sexual trauma can all affect a person’s sex drive, or the ability to enjoy sex or reach climax. Stress or shame over existing sexual dysfunction can compound and worsen problems, leading to performance anxiety. Speaking with a licensed mental health professional may help address underlying psychological reasons for sexual dysfunction. Relationship counseling may benefit couples who are grappling with these issues, and help them talk openly with one another about intimacy problems.
Some of the most common causes of sexual dysfunction can also be treated with lifestyle changes. Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and drug and alcohol use can all contribute to erectile dysfunction. By eating a balanced diet or beginning an exercise regimen, you may be able to alleviate symptoms of sexual dysfunction and improve your sexual health.
Exercise may also ease symptoms of depression and anxiety that could be contributing to low sex drive. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your sex life.
Sexual dysfunction is a common problem with a wide variety of causes and many solutions. If you are experiencing symptoms of sexual dysfunction, don’t fret. Reach out to your urologist for an appointment to discuss your symptoms and possible treatment options.