Why Has My Sex Drive Changed? 12 Factors That Can Impact Libido
There are few attributes more individually tailored to a person than one's sex drive. It ebbs and flows, it changes through different parts of your life, and it can be affected by a wide variety of factors. So if you're wondering or concerned about what elements of your life, well-being, and habits impact your sex drive, there might be a few you've not considered.
"Your sex drive is affected by your overall health, so consider both your physical health and mental health," psychotherapist and somatic therapist Christine Scott-Hudson MA MFT ATR, owner of Create Your Life Studio tells Bustle. "Many people blame themselves for their libido changes without realizing that the body works as a whole system, and a change in one area leads to a change in another."
So, when it comes to your appetite for sex, be curious about your overall health, Scott-Hudson says. Talk to your doctor and your psychotherapist for support with any change in your libido, be it a major increase or a decrease. And remember that whatever is happening is totally normal and OK for you! There is no right way to have a sex drive, you know?
Take a look below to see all the different things that can impact your desire.
1. Nutritional Lifestyle Plans
Changes in your nutrition impact your whole mind and body, and indeed, that includes your sex drive.
"For your sexual desire to be in a healthy place or even to engage fully in sex, you need to have sufficient energy levels," nutritionist August McLaughlin, author of Girl Boner, tells Bustle. If you're not receiving enough nutrients, you may be lacking in energy.
Listen to your body, McLaughlin says. When it comes to connecting to your sexuality, the deeper the communication you have with how your body feels and what it wants, the better.
2. Dealing With Grief
Grief can absolutely impact desire, and can both cause a stop or a decrease in libido, therapist Becca Hirsch, M.A. LMFT, with Center for Mindful Living, tells Bustle.
"One of the symptoms of depression is a loss of libido, and when we're experiencing any intense or difficult emotion, one of our defense mechanisms as a human is to try to disconnect our feelings and our body from our day to day life," Hirsch says. "We can't live in sorrow or mourning all day every day, so we try our best to compartmentalize or 'shut it off.'"
When we're shutting off our emotions and disconnecting from our body, that will absolutely impact desire and libido as well, Hirsch says. "I've also seen grief impact desire in another way, where someone actually has more desire for their partner," Hirsch says.
Either way, it's always a good idea to get help when you are coping with grief, be it through a counselor or a support group to get you through the rough time.
3. A Different Schedule Than Your Sex Partner
If you and your sexual partner have different schedules, this may do a variety of things to your libido. It might mean you start looking for sex elsewhere, start masturbating more, or it can result in lack of sexual interest toward your partner, sex therapist Janet Brito, PhD. PSY, LCSW, who is based in Hawaii, tells Bustle.
Depending on what you want out of your sexual relationships, there are things you can do to shift this around.
"You can become more intentional and plan sexy time during shared time together," Brito says. It's good to try to focus on the benefits gained from planning sexual encounters, and observing what that might do to your desire levels.
4. Having Major Resentments
Ever been so mad it's basically all you can think about, and it makes you pretty darn emotionally drained? Well, that, too, can have an effect on your sexual drive.
"Something that effects someone’s sex drive is resentment," licensed marriage & family therapist Caroline Madden, PhD, the author Fool Me Once: Should I Take Back My Cheating Husband? tells Bustle.
People will often minimize a frustration with a partner and hold it in, Madden says. Meaning that you can create a narrative that your anger is no big deal, but actually you just don’t want to risk asserting your needs in the relationship Madden says.
And if you tell yourself your partner doesn’t care, you might withdraw emotionally and sexually from the relationship.
If you are feeling lots of feels about your sexual partner, recognize how it might be impacting your drive. Try to communicate how you feel, or reach out for some professional guidance on how to be honest about your feelings.
5. So Much Screen Time
Yes, the phone and computer screen really affects every freakin' part of our lives.
"Sitting up all late watching television, viewing videos online on a laptop, and scrolling social media all at the same time [can impact your sex drive,]" licensed clinical social worker and certified Prepare-Enrich Facilitator, Sharon J. Lawrence, owner of Selah Wellness & Therapeutic Services, LLC in Largo, Maryland, tells Bustle.
It is not only a distraction, but it can disconnect you from your body. Lawrence says that reducing screen time whether it is television, computer, or cell phone, can really help you be more present, as can reading about how to improve your intimacy game. Spending real quality time with your sexual partners doesn't hurt either!
6. Medications And Changes In Birth Control
Not surprisingly if you are taking medication or hormonal supplements of any kind, particularly things like birth control and antidepressants, it can impact your libido.
"Stopping birth control can play a major role in your sex drive as your hormones and feelings may change towards your mate unknowingly," Lawrence says.
Scott-Hudson says that many medications can also impact your libido, so read the side effects and do your research as you are taking them.
"Never just discontinue a medication without consulting with your doctor," Scott-Hudson says. While it can be a frustrating process to be impacted by meds or hormones, it can be managed with the help of a medical professional.
7. Dealing With Depression
Psychologist and sex therapist Dr. Doug Weiss, who specializes in sexual issues, tells Bustle that depression is one of the number one conditions that impacts libido.
Whether it is a chemical issue in your brain or situational grief of some kind, depression can really lower your sex drive.
"A depressed person has lower desire because they have lower energy," Weiss says. If you are dealing with depression and feeling low-energy in general, reaching out for help is a great idea.
8. Low Thyroid Or Hormone Levels
A low-functioning thyroid, especially if you’re in your 30's or 40's, is something to pay attention to if your sexual drive feels off, Weiss says. He often encourages his clients to get a full panel of hormone and thyroid testing if they are concerned about sexual drive.
"If that is the issue, oftentimes after a short while on thyroid medicine, you want sex," Weiss says. "Your adrenals and thyroid control how you feel energy and it can zap sex drive. You just don’t have the oomph to want to do it."
Similarly, if your testosterone is low, it can affect your energy and desire which can shift a person away from wanting sex.
9. Coping With Trauma
Another very real possibility for low sex drive is the reactivation of a sexual trauma memory. This is a very normal reaction, and nothing to be ashamed about.
"If you have sexual pain [emotionally], you’re not motivated to engage if you haven’t dealt with it," Weiss says. "Sometimes there is a trigger, like a movie or a situation, or anything that would create a PTSD scenario could also create those feelings."
Because you are trying to process the trauma, this takes a lot of emotional energy, Weiss says. It is important to see a specialist and get support from someone who can help you to cope with these emotional struggles.
10. Fear Of Intimacy
Because sex is indeed a very intimate act, if a person fears intimacy and that kind of a connection with another person, this can make it hard to want sex.
Weiss says that if a person doesn't feel safe, someone will shut down sexually because they are fearing the closeness.
"It's essentially a way of saying I don’t want to be intimate with you, I want to create distance," Weiss says. This can be really complicated and nuanced emotionally and can happen to anyone. The intimacy of sexuality can simply be too much.
Weiss recommends doing research, reading, and getting support from professionals if intimacy is something that you struggle with.
Maybe not so surprisingly, but going way hard on the exercise is another thing that can really impact your levels of energy, Weiss says. So if your body is getting used to the max doing cardio and weightlifting, it's going to kick into gear to use your energy to recover.
On a basic level, your food is going to producing energy towards all that movement, Weiss says. On the other hand, when you aren't exercising as much, your sex drive might increase because you're in need of an outlet.
12. Mental Health Conditions
"Certain mental health conditions are often overlooked as factors in declining libido," Scott-Hudson says.
Mental illnesses such as anxiety, bipolar disorders, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, or PMDD (Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder ) can all impact your sex drive, both treated and untreated, Scott-Hudson says.
If you are concerned about your mental health, reach out to get professional support. And if you know that a condition you're coping with is impacting your sex life, know that you are not alone, and there are ways to work through your situations.
All in all, your levels of desire are bound to shift throughout your life. That is totally OK! Keeping in tune with your body and mind in your own unique way will always be the foundation for connecting with your sexuality.