Is low sex drive common in men?

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Medically approved by Dr Chris Airey
Chief Medical Officer
iconLast updated 11th February 2024
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Some adults may experience a decrease in their sex drive at different points in time. This usually manifests itself as a reduction in their libido.

It could be triggered by stress, health issues, feelings, a lack of a physical partner or hormonal shifts. It’s normal to not feel like getting intimate all the time, but what if you find yourself never in the mood?

Male low libido is not as widespread as female, likely because of hormonal dissimilarities. Still, it can occur with ageing males.

In this article, we’ll examine the multiple causes of a diminished libido in men and discuss available treatments that could possibly restore your desire.

Low sex drive or erectile dysfunction?

Do you suffer from a lack of libido or problems achieving or maintaining an erection?

Though many males experience erectile dysfunction (ED), a low libido or lack of sexual desire is quite different from this.

Many men who have erectile dysfunction find that when it’s time to be intimate, they can’t get an erection.

These men may find themselves able to get an erection, sometimes or partially, but it does not enable them to successfully engage in sexual activity. This indicates a physical problem in most cases.

If you’re having erectile dysfunction, this could be from a physical issue in need of medical attention, especially for elderly men with health concerns. Depending on the situation, medications like Tadalafil and Viagra might be viable solutions – however, it may also be an indication of another issue requiring more serious treatment.

Having a low sex drive in men is different.

Men may discover that they have little to no interest in sex, as they don’t ruminate on the thought or make any moves to engage with their partners. Consequently, they don’t experience any sexual stimulation and thus, will be unable to attain an erection. This condition is known as secondary erectile dysfunction since it is causally associated with a lack of libido.

This can lead to partners feeling frustrated and pondering if the man is being unfaithful or no longer finds them interesting.

In the more extreme instances, it can result in a break-up or the partner’s search for sexual fulfilment outside of the relationship.

Clearly, this problem carries significant consequences and can be extremely humiliating for the person experiencing it.

Causes of low sex drive in men

Many potential causes of decreased libido in men exist, such as with erectile dysfunction.

There are both physical and psychological causes of low testosterone. These can range from physical ailments to mental health issues.

Hormones can likewise be a factor in diminishing libido; they can have an immediate bearing on how aroused somebody is.

Physical causes

Common causes of low sex drive in men

  • Restless legs syndrome

This condition, better known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is characterised by an irresistible urge to move one’s legs and sometimes accompanied by strange sensations, may also cause a decrease in sexual desire.

  • Sleep problems

Lack of sleep can cause fatigue and exhaustion, making sex take a backseat.

Psychological or mental causes

  • Sexual problems – e.g. premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction

Psychological sources can be the root of sexual issues, and a man may feel embarrassed because he is not able to satisfy his partner in bed. This can lead him to lose interest in sex.

  • Stress

Stress can be a major impediment to a man’s libido. Anxiety-filled jobs or states of mind leave little room for sex, as the mind is continuously preoccupied. Further, when in the fight or flight mode, sexual desire is no longer prioritised.

  • Depression

Low mood can really take a toll on libido. Depression makes it difficult to feel aroused, and thus causes a lack of desire for sexual activity.

  • Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem can lead to feelings of embarrassment and stress that impede sexual urges. This may affect a man’s willingness to initiate sex or even disrobe in intimate settings.

Hormonal Causes

  • High oestrogen in men

A high oestrogen level can lead to a decrease in sex drive in men, particularly those with a higher body fat percentage or those taking too much testosterone which is being converted into oestrogen.

  • High prolactin

When a man ejaculates, prolactin is released – causing a refractory period, meaning he cannot ejaculate again shortly afterwards.

Though not as frequent, a significantly high level of prolactin can cause problems with libido.

Recent fathers are more prone to raised prolactin levels, which can affect libido. There may be an evolutionary explanation for this. Prolactinoma, a non-cancerous tumour in the pituitary gland, can also result in prolactin higher than average amounts.

  • Low testosterone levels

The most typical underlying factor of reduced libido in males is low testosterone. It is closely correlated to a decreased sex drive.

Men with low testosterone often experience a decrease in libido and their interest in sex can wane. Instead of being aroused by attractive partners, they may begin to view them as more akin to works of art, rather than desired sexual partners.

Treatments for low sex drive


Not having enough rest can lead to a decrease in libido among men.

Getting adequate rest through better sleep hygiene is essential to avoid fatigue. Bedtimes should be consistent, and the sleep area should be cool and dark with minimal noise (ear plugs and eye masks can aid in this). It’s wise to stay away from blue light and devices a few hours before bed.

Lack of exercise

If you don’t work out, your body won’t be ready for sexual activity and may not have enough energy. This can reduce your libido and cause weight gain, which in turn can affect your hormones. Incorporating some physical exercise into your routine, several times a week, will help you stay fit and healthy.

Sexual Issues – Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a serious and widespread condition that can have a devastating impact on male sex drive. An erection is essential for sexual activity, and the inability to get one can take its toll on men psychologically, resulting in decreased desire.

Erectile dysfunction can have several potential underlying causes, but medication like sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) are very effective for increasing the flow of blood to the penis, resulting in improved erections for most men.

For further details on these treatments, you can contact us for treatment.

Psychological – Stress and low sex drive

High stress can be a major contributor to low libido. It has been linked to various mental causes related to sex drive, as well as physical ones. Managing stress, either through lifestyle changes or mental health counselling, can therefore help bring sex drive back.

Mindfulness/meditation is an excellent method for minimising stress. For an additional boost, physical activity can trigger the release of endorphins, which have been known to both reduce tension and enhance libido.

Speaking with a psychologist or psychiatrist can be beneficial for addressing mental health matters and resolving any issues that may arise.

High Oestrogen

High oestrogen levels are often caused by an increased body fat percentage, or else they can be hereditary. Additionally, low testosterone production or other hormonal imbalances could be potential factors.

Losing bodyfat by dieting and moving more can reduce the levels of testosterone converted into oestrogen. Reducing alcohol intake will also help to reduce oestrogen levels.

A medication called aromatase inhibitors can also be used in men to reduce the conversion by inhibiting the action of the enzyme aromatase that converts testosterone into oestrogen.

High prolactin

If prolactin levels are very raised then you should see your GP to get further information on how to treat this with medication.

They may refer you to an endocrinologist for further advice and investigations.

Low testosterone

If you have the symptoms associated with low testosterone then the first step is to get a blood test to check your levels. If these are low then you may be appropriate for treatment. MANUAL are experts in treatment for low testosterone and will be able to support.


Low sex drive is a fairly common issue seen in men. One major cause is low testosterone but there are other factors that may also influence your levels.

MANUAL has various treatment pathways that may help men who are experiencing this symptom.

Testosterone Blood Tests
Order an at-home test kit to get started.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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