What you’ll learn:
- If your husband or partner lost interest in sex, don’t blame yourself.
- There are many causes of low libido in men and a doctor can help you understand what’s going on.
- Sometimes the reason he lost interest in sex is psychological.
- You can support your partner in getting his libido back, but he needs to be onboard too.
When I first started working as a sexologist online, I was surprised that so many women wrote to me, saying their husband or partner lost interest in sex. We don’t see low libido in men in the movies or magazines. And pornography teaches us that a man is always ready.
If your husband or partner is the one with a headache whenever you ask for sex, know that you’re not alone. This is more common than you think. Research conducted in three different countries revealed that 14.4 % men had a “distressing lack of sexual interest” in the preceding year.
Quick note for context: most of my clients are cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, and monogamous, so this article doesn’t cover the whole spectrum of relationships. If your context is different, send me a message and we’ll schedule an individual consultation.
It’s not your fault he lost interest in sex
Women who come to me for help as a sexologist often blame themselves for their partner’s lack of interest in intimacy. They are looking for ways to fix themselves. And more often than not they feel helpless because their husband or partner is refusing to go to sex therapy.
I know that this is hard. It can be painful to be rejected by the person you love. But please, please, don’t blame yourself for his lack of desire. It’s not your fault! And it isn’t his either.
Sex drive is a complicated thing, it can ebb and flow. And sometimes, people have a period when they completely lose interest. The good news it’s possible to rekindle the sexual spark. But first you need to understand the causes of low sex drive.
Causes of low sex drive in men
Male desire is so misunderstood. We simplify male sexuality, joking that guys are always horny and don’t need much to get from 0 to 100. But the truth is much more complex. Sometimes the causes of low libido are physical, sometimes psychological. And often it’s a mix of both.
Physical causes of lost interest in sex
Let’s face it. The main goal of our sex drive is to keep us reproducing. Many of the mechanisms that maintain our interest in sex are regulated by our body’s systems. If the body suffers, the man may lose his sex drive.
Testosterone is best known as the hormone of masculinity. Think Dwayne Johnson and his muscular body. Think horny teenage boys who get excited at the mere sight of a girl in a bikini. Testosterone is indeed responsible for high sex drive in men (and in women, to a certain extent).
Many people think that men’s T levels drop as they age. This is only partly true. Around the age of 40 the hormone reaches a certain level and stays that way in later life. So, yes, it’s likely you he will have less testosterone at 45 compared to 25. And this can impact his sex drive.
Another link between T levels and lost interest in sex has been revealed through research on single and partnered guys. As it turns out, if he’s solo or in a new relationship, his hormones will stay high. But for heterosexual men testosterone begins to drop about one year into the relationship.
Is a vivid sex life the privilege of youth? Should you just forget about it once you reach middle age? Of course not, but you need to understand the challenges and limitations of sex drive that come with age.
As we get older, we start having more health problems that may impact our interest in intimacy. For example, diabetes, especially if it’s poorly managed, can cause a loss of sexual desire.
Common diseases of mature age, such as heart problems, require medication. And nonexistent libido is an unfortunate side-effect of these treatments.
Pain deserves a special mention because it’s a part of many health conditions and disabilities that men have. Sometimes he (and his doctors) don’t connect the dots when he asks them about the causes of low sex drive.
Chronic pain, no matter where it’s located, puts the body and mind in the constant state of overwhelm. The energy goes into surviving, not thriving and feeling pleasure. Usually, there’s not much left to nurture libido.
Growing up as a man in most cultures of the world means huge pressure to perform. He has to compete with others in sports, at school, at the playground. And, as he grows older, he’s expected to be fit in the bedroom, always ready to satisfy his partner.
But the reality is much more complex. As he experiences first sexual failures, he may lose interest in sex out of fear of looking like a looser in the eyes of his lover.
A classic vicious circle develops when he has trouble getting and keeping an erection. It happens once or twice and next time he makes love, anxiety kicks in. If the problem persists his mind may work out a defense mechanism. He loses his sex drive to avoid confronting his sexual problems.
Psychological causes of lost interest in sex
Sometimes the reason he has low libido is more in the mind and emotions, than in his body. And men are still more reluctant than women to seek mental health support. Here are the common causes of low sex drive in men:
I recently wrote a whole article on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our sex drive.
Stress was one of the main reasons why men and women lost interest in intimacy when the Coronavirus stopped the world in its tracks.
Stress is a true desire killer. Our nervous system hasn’t changed much since prehistoric times. We are still wired to switch on the “fight or flight mode” when faced with danger. But our system is not very skilled at recognizing the real physical threat from a more abstract one. Worrying about your job or stressing over the amount of household chores feels the same as an attack of a tiger.
And, once the stress hormone cortisol starts flowing, and his body goes into that tense mode, there’s no way he’s going to be in the mood for lovemaking. Sure, some people use masturbation to relieve pressure, but this usually doesn’t translate into high libido.
Have you ever heard of the term “anhedonia”? It’s a common symptom of depressive states. It means it’s hard or impossible to have the motivation to want pleasure, and to experience pleasant sensations.
There’s not much room for desire in that state, is it? To make things worse, some of the antidepressants have low libido as a side-effect. As a result, he will feel better after taking the meds, but his sex drive will remain low.
Sometimes changing the prescription to another type of medication helps so suggest your partner to talk to the doctor. On a positive note, I’ve had clients who regained their sex drive while on antidepressants. Side-effects don’t affect everyone.
It’s not low desire. It’s life
If your partner lost interest in sex, lifestyle changes or medication will not always solve the problem. Often the key to regaining sexual energy is hidden elsewhere. And what gets in the way is not his health but…life. Don’t despair! Once he understands why his libido plummeted, it will be easier to do something about it.
Becoming a father
It’s not just women who lose their libido one they become moms. Men feel it too. Long-term studies reveal that fathers have lower testosterone levels compared to childless men. And dads of small babies experience the biggest drop in T levels, especially if they are dedicated to their fatherly duties.
But parenthood in the early years impacts your sex drive in many practical ways. You’re not getting much sleep. In many families you become the sole breadwinner, which adds to the stress. The list goes on.
While it’s quite common to lose interest in sex for a few months or a year, if you feel your intimacy has been nonexistent for a long time, get professional help.
Eroticism doesn’t exist in a void. If you’re having problems in your relationship, this will be reflected in the bedroom. The longer you are together, the more things pile up. And some of those things will be difficult.
It’s never too late to start improving your communication but before you do that, it’s time to face the reality and resolve any conflicts you may already have. I always tell my clients that if they feel something between them is bringing them further apart, it’s time to address it with courage and an open heart.
Lost erotic energy
In my online sexologist’s practice, I see people who say they have a great relationship. “Everything is working, you know. It’s only the sex that’s bad”, they say. Usually this is the case of lost erotic energy. For some couples it was never there in the first place. The truth is, we don’t always choose our life companions based on how good in bed they are.
But rekindling or starting that spark of excitement, curiosity and fun is crucial for long-lasting desire. Yes, it takes conscious action to get it back when you’ve been together for ten years, you’ve smelled each other’s farts, and you’ve been through all kinds of messes together. But it’s possible and so worth it.
What can you do to help him get his sex drive back?
When a woman comes to me saying her husband or partner lost interest in sex, I honestly say there’s only so much she can do on her own. When one person in the couple loses their desire, it takes two to solve the issue and have fun in bed again.
The best thing you can do is focus on your own sexuality. Don’t give up on pleasure because your man is not willing to cooperate! If you do, you will soon realize there’s two people with low libido in that relationship. So, make love to yourself, and celebrate all things exciting and blissful.
If you come to me for a consultation as a sexologist, I can help you tweak some things to create the space for your partner to seek help. I can help you work on your communication, or suggest some activities you can try together to warm up the atmosphere.
But in the best-case scenario, I’d like to see you coming to me with your partner and working on the low sex drive together.
Every couple is different, and I need to hear your story to propose concrete solutions and an action plan. But if you’re both motivated to go back to good sex, you will do it. I’m happy to help you get there faster. Click here to book a free consultation today.