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Practical Tips and Strategies for Overcoming Low Sex Drive in Relationships

It is common for individuals to experience fluctuations in their sex drive from day to day and to experience highs and lows as they age. Sex drive can be influenced by a variety of factors, including one’s menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, and other life changes. While some decrease in sex drive is a natural part of aging, there is no “normal” level of sex drive as people age. Furthermore, there are a variety of biological and psychological factors that influence sex drive at any age.

According to John Thoppil, MD, an Austin, Texas-based OB-GYN, “sex drive does often decrease with age.” While this decrease may not be immediately noticeable when individuals enter a new decade, various factors that affect sex drive tend to occur as people transition from their 20s to their 40s and beyond. Hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone play a significant role in desire, arousal, and orgasm. As individuals age, these hormones naturally start to dip, which can lead to lower sex drive. However, hormones alone do not affect sex drive, as factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, and relationship satisfaction can also influence sex drive.

Stress is a particularly potent “sex killer,” according to Jennifer Landa, MD, an OB-GYN and chief medical officer at BodyLogicMD in Orlando, Florida. Depression and anxiety can also lead to a low sex drive. Additionally, many antidepressants used to treat mental health conditions can cause low sex drive. However, eating a balanced diet, working out regularly, and getting enough rest can influence mood and health, which can, in turn, affect sex drive.

Relationship satisfaction is another important factor that can affect sex drive. Individuals who are in strong relationships that prioritize sex are more likely to have a higher sex drive. However, sex drive at any age is complex, as it is influenced by a variety of factors, including one’s identity, feelings, desires, and actions.

Sex drive tends to vary based on age, and specific trends tend to emerge in one’s 20s, 30s, and 40s. In the 20s, sex drive is usually pretty strong due to the biological drive to reproduce, with testosterone levels that have not yet started to decline, and females being more fertile in their 20s and early 30s. Additionally, hormonal changes during one’s menstrual cycle can also influence sex drive, as estrogen drops during one’s period, which then slowly rises during the follicular phase and revs up one’s libido. During ovulation, testosterone and estrogen levels are at their highest, leading to increased desire for sex. However, after ovulation, these levels drop, which can decrease sex drive. It is also worth noting that some birth control methods, such as the pill, can lead to lower testosterone levels, which can cause a lower libido in some women.

In one’s 30s, dropping testosterone levels can cause a natural decrease in sex drive. Stress related to career building and increasing life responsibilities can also lower sex drive by suppressing testosterone and elevating the stress hormone cortisol. The hormonal changes that occur during one’s menstrual cycle can also affect sex drive in one’s 30s. Many individuals in their mid-30s often wait until then to have children, and the hormonal shifts that occur during pregnancy can trigger a lack of desire. Furthermore, drops in estrogen after childbirth and breastfeeding can cause vaginal dryness, making sex uncomfortable and undesirable. Combined with the fatigue of raising children, individuals may find that they are not having or craving sex as much as usual.

Open communication with a partner is key when dealing with low sex drive. It is important to have an honest conversation about what each partner is feeling and to express their needs and concerns. Both partners should be understanding and supportive, as low sex drive is a common issue that can affect anyone.

In addition to communication, there are several strategies that can help address low sex drive. For example, incorporating physical activity into daily routines can increase energy levels and improve overall mood, which may lead to a greater desire for sex. Additionally, taking time to relax and reduce stress can help to decrease anxiety and improve sexual function.

It is also important to focus on intimacy outside of sex. Spending quality time together, engaging in non-sexual physical touch, and engaging in activities that create emotional connection can all help to increase feelings of closeness and desire.

If low sex drive continues to be a persistent issue, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider or therapist. There may be underlying medical or psychological factors that are contributing to the issue that can be addressed with treatment.

Overall, dealing with low sex drive can be a challenging issue for individuals and their partners. However, with open communication, patience, and a willingness to try different strategies, it is possible to improve sexual function and strengthen the bond between partners.