Common causes of a low libido

Relationship problems

Sexual problems

Stress, anxiety and exhaustion


Getting older and the menopause

Pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding

Underlying health problems

Medication and contraception

Alcohol and drugs

Relationship problems

One of the first things to consider is whether you're happy in your relationship. Do you have any doubts or worries that could be behind your loss of sexual desire?

A low libido can be the result of:

  • being in a long-term relationship and becoming overfamiliar with your partner
  • loss of sexual attraction
  • unresolved conflict and frequent arguments
  • poor communication
  • difficulty trusting each other
  • physical sexual problems

You may find it helpful to read advice about keeping the passion alive in your relationship and talking about sex with your partner .

Your GP may be able to refer you and your partner for relationship Counselling if you're having persistent problems, or you may wish to contact Relate forsupport and advice.

Sexual problems

Another thing to consider is whether the problem is a physical issue that makes sex difficult or unfulfilling.

For example, a low sex drive can be the result of:

  • ejaculation problems
  • erectile dysfunction
  • vaginal dryness
  • painful sex
  • inability to orgasm
  • involuntary tightening of the vagina (vaginismus)

Click these links for more information about where to get help and how these problemscan betreated.You may also want toread more general good sex advice .

Stress , anxiety and exhaustion

Stress, anxiety and exhaustion can be all-consuming and have a major impact on your happiness, including your sex drive.

If you feel you're constantly tired, stressed or anxious, you may need to make some lifestyle changes or speak to your GP for advice.

You may find some of the following information and advice useful:

  • Why am I tired all the time?
  • Why do I feel anxious and panicky?
  • Self-help tips to fight fatigue
  • Beating stress at work
  • 10 stress busters
  • Breathing exercises for stress


Depression is very different from simply feeling unhappy, miserable or fed up for a short while. It's a serious illness that interferes with all aspects of your life, including your sex life.

In addition to low libido, signs of depression can include:

  • feelings of extreme sadness that don't go away
  • feeling low or hopeless
  • losing interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy

It's important to see your GP if you think you might be depressed. They can advise you about the main treatments for depression , such as talkingtherapies or antidepressants .

Alow sex drive can also be a side effect of antidepressants. Speak to your GP if you think this may be causing your problems.

Getting older and the menopause

A reduced sex drive isn't an inevitable part of ageing, but it's something many men and women experience as they get older.

There can be many reasons for this, including:

  • falling levels of sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) just before, during and after the menopause in women
  • falling levels of sex hormones (testosterone) in men
  • age-related health problems, including mobility problems
  • side effects of medication

Speak to your GP if you're concerned about this. They may ask about any other symptoms you have, and sometimes they maydo a blood test to check yourhormone levels.

There are treatments to increase hormone levels if low levels are causing problems, such as hormone replacement therapy(HRT) with or without testosterone treatment for women going through the menopause.

Pregnancy , giving birth and breastfeeding

Loss of interest in sex is common during pregnancy, after giving birth and while breastfeeding.

This can be because of:

  • changes in hormone levels
  • changes to your body and issues with your body image
  • exhaustion
  • painful sexcaused byan injury, such as a cut or tear, during childbirth
  • changed priorities, such as focusing on looking after your baby

Theseissues may improve over time. Speak to your GP if your sex drive doesn't return and it's a problem for you.

It may also help to readmore about sex in pregnancy and sex after birth .

Underlying health problems

Any long-term medical condition can affect your sex drive. Thismay be a result of the physical and emotional strain these conditions can cause, or it may be a side effect of treatment.

For example, a low libido can be associated with:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • an underactive thyroid wherethe thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones
  • cancer
  • major surgeryfor example,surgery to remove the ovaries and womb in women

Speak to your GP or specialist if you think your low libido may bethe result of an underlying medical condition or treatment.

Medication and contraception

Certain medicines can sometimes reduce libido, including:

  • medication for high blood pressure
  • many typesof antidepressant medication
  • medications for fits(seizures), such as topiramate
  • medicationscalled antipsychotics, such as haloperidol
  • medication for an enlarged prostate , such asfinasteride
  • medication for prostate cancer , such ascyproterone
  • hormonal contraception , such as the combined hormonal contraception ( pill , patch or ring ), the progestogen-only pill , the contraceptive implant and the contraceptive injection

Check the leaflet thatcomes with your medicine to see if low libido is listed as a possible side effect.

See your GP if youthink a medicine isaffecting your sex drive. They may be able to switch you to something else.

Alcohol and drugs

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period can reduce your sex drive, so it's a good idea not to drink too much.

Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 alcohol units a week on a regular basis.

Read some tips on cutting down on alcohol and find out where to get support for a drinking problem if you think you need it.

Drug misuse is also linked to a loss of sex drive. Find out where to get help fordrug addiction .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018