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Men don’t like to talk about low libido; neither do their partners, or even society as a whole.
Men can experience shame about it, while women can often take it as a direct personal reflection of their partner’s desire for them (eg he doesn’t find me attractive, I’m not sexy enough).
The Common Hidden Secret
The loss of libido in men, or inhibited sexual desire, puts huge amounts of stress on a relationship – in fact, more than any other sexual dysfunction, according to Barry McCarthy, co-author of “Rekindling Desire: A Step by Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No-Sex Marriages“.
Losing interest in sex may not be as common an occurrence for men as it is for women: It affects about 15% to 16% of men, and at least double that many women.
“But when men lose interest in sex it scares them more than women – their masculinity is so linked to their sexuality that it is very threatening,” says Esther Perel, a couples therapist in New York City and author of “Mating in Captivity”.
Aren’t Men Always Up for It?!
Then there is the general belief in our society about male sexuality – that men are always ready for sex, and always relentless pursuing their partners for sex. This can put a lot of pressure on men, and sometimes if their advances are repeatedly rejected, men can give up seeking out sex and this can affect their libidos in turn.
Some men lose interest in sex when they feel unhappy in their relationship, the same as women can. Men also can use sex as a way to connect with their partner on many levels, not just on a physical but also on an emotional level.
Loss of libido can have a significant impact on men:
it makes them more unhappy in other areas of their lives, than it does women. According to Edward Laumann, co-author of “The Social Organisation of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States”, only 23% of men with loss of libido say they still feel very happy about life in general, compared to 46% of women. It really bothers men!
But loss of libido is NOT something you have to live with. There is much you can do to regain your sex drive and your happy outlook on life.
Many men and couples can be helped with the assistance of a sex therapist, to explore what is happening within the relationship or for the individual for what is causing low libido. Sometimes a sex therapist will recommend that men see their GP, to rule out any medical reasons such as low testosterone that are leading to the loss of desire.
How Do You Know if You have a Problem With Loss of Libido?
Libido loss is usually a gradual process, rather than a sudden occurrence. It’s not like catching a cold where you wake up one morning and whoops, there it is!
Though difficult to define precisely, Laumann measures it as follows: “It is a lack of interest in sex for several months of the past year.”
Frequency of sexual activity is NOT the best measure of sexual interest – so many circumstances can get in the way of an encounter, even if the desire is there. But if you are in a committed relationship and having sex less often than the norm – about once a week – or it appears that there is an avoidance of sex, you might ask yourself whether you are happy with things as they are.
If you are not happy about your loss of libido, researchers agree that it is best to face these issues before they become ingrained.
Early Warning Signs
To help identify the early warning signs, see whether you answer the following questions true or false:
- Touching takes place only in the bedroom.
- Sex does not give you feelings of connection and sharing.
- One of you is always the initiator and the other feels pressured.
- You no longer look forward to sex.
- You are avoiding sex.
- Sex is mechanical and routine.
- You almost never have sexual thoughts or fantasies about your spouse.
- Sex feels like the “elephant in the room” in your relationship.
- You have sex once or twice a month at most.
“If you answered true to many or most of these questions, you may be on your way to losing sexual desire,” writes McCarthy.
Understanding the various causes is the first step to finding the appropriate resolution. A sex therapist can help you to work through these issues, and re-discover your lost libido!