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Common Causes of Low Sex Drive in Men

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 01/07/2021

Updated 05/19/2024

Why do I have no sex drive? Why am I not turned on anymore? These questions can be a wake-up call for (mostly) older men who haven’t been prioritizing their sexual health and overall well-being as much as they should. So, what causes low sex drive in men?

Many things — but it’s often not a sign of any serious problems.

It’s perfectly normal for male libido to wax and wane. Work stress, significant life changes, and other obligations can throw a wrench in your sex life, but it usually bounces back. When it doesn’t, chronic low sex drive could affect your sexual health.

Keep reading to learn about low sex drive in men, what causes it, and potential treatment options.

You’ve probably heard the term libido before. What is libido in men? The male libido is typically used to describe a guy’s sex drive or desire for sexual activity — very vague.

There’s no single measurement of libido. Everyone’s is different, driven by factors like hormone levels, brain function, health conditions, personal life, and more.

As mentioned, it’s normal for male libido to dip now and again. But if you’re experiencing persistently low sexual desire, it could strain your sex life and cause relationship issues.

Decreased sex drive or low libido in men could result in:

  • Loss of sexual interest in a partner

  • Disinterest in masturbation

  • Few or non-existent sexual fantasies

  • Stress or concern over lost interest in sex

Why is my sex drive low? Keep reading to explore the potential causes.

Wondering why you’re not interested in sex? Reasons for a loss of sex drive in men can vary, from physical and mental health issues to major life events, like moving or starting a new job.

Psychological factors are often the primary cause. But for some men, decreased libido is related to medication, lifestyle choices, or underlying medical conditions.

Low libido isn’t the same as erectile dysfunction (ED), though the two can co-exist. Also, loss of libido is typical with age, but if you suddenly experience a low sex drive, there could be something else going on.

Much like erectile dysfunction, low libido can be due to several factors rather than having a single underlying cause. Identifying those factors is key to treating low sex drive in men.

Potential contributing causes of low sex drive in men include:

  • Low testosterone

  • Depression

  • Stress

  • Sleep apnea

  • Relationship problems

  • Medication side effects

  • Chronic health conditions

  • Alcohol or drug use

  • Nutritional deficiencies

Keep scrolling for details.

1. Low Testosterone

You’re most likely familiar with testosterone, but if not, here’s a quick refresher. Testosterone is an essential male sex hormone produced primarily in the testes. It plays a role in building muscle and bone mass and stimulates sperm production.

Normal testosterone levels vary. However, testosterone production naturally decreases with age, sometimes referred to as “male menopause.”

Low testosterone levels can also be the result of a condition called hypogonadism, when sex glands (the testes in men, for instance) produce little to no sex hormones.

Some signs of low testosterone include decreased semen volume, smaller testicle size, loss of body hair, fatigue, and — yep, you guessed it — reduced sex drive.

There’s also a connection between low testosterone and ED, as testosterone deficiency affects sexual function.

What age do men stop being sexually active? Read our blog for insight.

2. Depression

Another possible cause of low libido in men? Depression. Beyond persistent sadness and low moods, this mental health disorder can lead to trouble sleeping, poor concentration, and loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, including sex.

Those with depression are also more likely to experience other forms of sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction. Learn more in our guide to depression and ED.

3. Stress

Chronic stress can affect more than just mental health — it might cause low sex drive in men.

Aside from worry and potential sexual performance anxiety, high stress levels can affect the production of sex hormones, which could impact your libido.

When you’re stressed for an extended period, cortisol (a hormone that helps regulate several essential bodily functions) levels stay high. This can reduce your testosterone production and sex drive while negatively affecting other sexual functions.

Our guide to stress and ED dives deeper into this topic.

It’s tough to avoid stress altogether — and some stress is a normal part of life. But there are stress-management techniques to try if you’re worried about a lower libido, like breathing exercises, meditation, and talk therapy.

4. Sleep Apnea

If your partner complains about your loud snoring or if you often wake up with a dry mouth, you could be dealing with sleep apnea. This sleep disorder is characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea include gasping for air during sleep, difficulty staying asleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Serious sleep disorders like this one can affect your sleep quality, which, aside from drowsiness, can have a significant impact on your health. 

Sleep apnea and a general lack of sleep can reduce testosterone production, potentially leading to a low sex drive. A 2018 study published in the journal Sleep Medicine showed that men with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from low libido.

Another very small study mimicked the lack of sleep caused by sleep apnea. It found that otherwise healthy men had lower testosterone levels after losing four hours of sleep.

5. Relationship Problems

Stress is a beast that can take on many forms, and sometimes, you don’t even realize the toll it’s taking on your life. For instance, relationship anxiety and other relationship problems are unique forms of stress that can affect your libido.

Emotions and attraction naturally fluctuate throughout a long-term relationship. Still, don’t be afraid to ask yourself some difficult questions to get at the underlying cause of your recent sexual dysfunction.

6. Medication Side Effects

As noted, depression can cause low sex drive. If you’re struggling with a depressive disorder, your healthcare provider may prescribe antidepressant medication — but unfortunately, like depression itself, antidepressants may also cause a low sex drive in men.

Antidepressant side effects can include a reduced sex drive in men and women. Two common types — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) — list low libido as a possible side effect.

Other medications that might be the reason for a lower-than-normal sex drive:

  • Blood pressure drugs (like beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors)

  • Chemotherapy and radiation treatments

  • Opioid pain relievers (like morphine and oxycodone)

  • Corticosteroids and anabolic steroids

  • Certain antifungal medications

If you’re experiencing low sex drive and think it could be a side effect of a prescription drug, talk to your healthcare provider about adjusting your dosage or switching to another medication.

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7. Chronic Health Conditions

Just as mental health can affect your sex drive, certain health issues can also reduce your desire for sex. This makes sense — if you’re dealing with chronic pain or discomfort, sex may be the last thing on your mind.

Men’s health issues that can reduce libido include:

  • Obesity

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Liver and kidney problems

  • Cancer

  • Chronic heart failure

The very unfunny joke is that certain medications that treat these conditions might also cause a loss of libido in men. If you have any of the above health conditions, talk to your provider about how it could be affecting your sex drive.

8. Other Possible Causes of Low Sex Drive

Drug use and excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to decreased testosterone production and lowered sex drive. 

Men who drink heavily are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction such as ED, premature ejaculation (PE), and low sex drive.

Certain nutritional deficiencies may also play a role in causing low sex drive. For example, one combined human and animal study found that zinc deficiency reduced testosterone levels.

Or if you’re dealing with other sexual problems that have made sex difficult or unfulfilling — like ED or PE — this could lead to a drop in libido.

If you struggle with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or other sexual problems, talk to your healthcare provider to figure out the underlying cause and how to treat it.

Choose your chew

Dealing with low libido can complicate your sex life. Fortunately, there are ways to treat a low sex drive, depending on the root cause.

Talk to a Healthcare Professional About Low Sex Drive

The first thing to do is consult a healthcare provider. They can help determine the underlying cause of your decreased libido and go over your treatment options.

To prepare, make a list of medications you’re taking and try to think back to when you first noticed the drop in your libido.

Make Healthy Changes to Your Diet and Lifestyle

When you’re getting proper nutrition, exercising regularly, and feeling healthy, your sexual interest might remain steadier. Working out has been shown to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction, lower stress, boost your mood, and elevate energy levels.

Need help getting started? Check out these lifestyle tips to increase sexual performance.

Get Your Mental Health in Check

Depression or high stress levels can impact your sex drive, making you feel less interested in sexual activity.

You might consider online therapy with a mental health professional or sex therapist. During virtual appointments, you can discuss relationship turmoil, work stress, current sexual dilemmas, or anything else affecting your mental well-being.

Consider TRT for Low T

Low testosterone — which can reduce your sex drive — can be caused by many factors, like stress and sleep apnea. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is a common form of treatment. It’s administered as an oral medication, intramuscular injection, or transdermal patch.

There are also a few natural ways to increase testosterone, such as exercise and getting enough sleep.

Be Wary of Miracle Treatments

You’re probably well aware that if you search “low sex drive men,” hundreds of results will pop up promoting the best pills to increase sex drive or drinks that increase libido.

Research is lacking on libido-boosting beverages and miracle pills for treating low sex drive or other sexual dysfunction issues. We recommend being skeptical of big claims and proceeding with caution.

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Men’s sex drives often fluctuate — what seems to be gone one day could come back the next. However, there are some potential causes of a persistent low libido.

Libido isn’t simply about out-of-whack levels of testosterone, illicit drug use, or low self-esteem. Just like how a healthy lifestyle can improve all elements of your well-being, unhealthy habits and underlying illnesses can impact each and every bodily system, including the one that determines libido.

Let’s recap what to keep in mind if you’re finding yourself less interested in sex:

  • Libido or sex drive is the desire for sexual activity. When men experience a loss of libido, they might notice declining sexual desire for a partner, have no interest in masturbation, and have few to no sexual fantasies.

  • There are many causes of low libido in men, such as low testosterone levels, depression, stress, sleep apnea, relationship issues, medication side effects, health conditions, heavy drinking, drug use, or other sexual dysfunction issues like PE or ED.

  • Treatment options for a low sex drive depend on the cause. But they can range from regular exercise and a healthy diet to therapy or testosterone replacement therapy.

Your best bet for dealing with low libido? Talking to a healthcare provider to determine the cause. Once you’ve figured that out, they’ll go over your treatment options.

For example, if your low libido cause is sexual dysfunction, your provider may recommend erectile dysfunction medication. You can get a prescription through our telehealth platform after a virtual consultation with a licensed medical provider.

16 Sources

  1. American Psychological Association. (2018). Stress effects on the body.
  2. Arackal BS, et al. (2007). Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence.
  3. Buch-Vicente B, et al. (2021). Frequency of Iatrogenic Sexual Dysfunction Associated with Antihypertensive Compounds.
  4. Golan R, et al. (2015). Age-related testosterone decline is due to waning of both testicular and hypothalamic-pituitary function.
  5. Gregoire A. (2000). Assessing and managing male sexual problems.
  6. Hirsch IH. (n.d.). Decreased Libido in Men - Men's Health Issues.
  7. International Society for Sexual Medicine. (2014). .What medications might lower a person's libido?.
  8. Leproult R, et al. (2011). Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men.
  9. Montejo AL, et al. (2019). Management Strategies for Antidepressant-Related Sexual Dysfunction: A Clinical Approach.
  10. Mun JK, et al. (2018). Sleep and libido in men with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
  11. National Cancer Institute. (2022). Sexual Health Issues in Men and Cancer Treatment - Side Effects.
  12. Semet M, et al. (2017). The impact of drugs on male fertility: a review.
  13. Sizar O, et al. (2023). Hypogonadism.
  14. Slowik JM, et al. (2023). Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
  15. Te L, et al. (2023). Correlation between serum zinc and testosterone: A systematic review.
  16. Viana A, et al. (2017). Nocturnal Hypoxemia is Associated With Low Testosterone Levels in Overweight Males and Older Men With Normal Weight.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown was previously Medical Director of a male fertility startup where she lead strategy and design of their digital health platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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