Decreased Libido

Libido is the desire to engage in sexual activity. About 5 percent of men have decreased libido, a condition that increases with age.

Causes of decreased libido

Decreased libido often accompanies other sexual disorders. Although most men with erectile dysfunction do not complain of decreased libido, after time, persistent failure with erections and sexual performance can lead to reduced sex drive in some men. Men who have other causes of decreased libido also often have trouble getting erections.

Common causes of low libido include

  • medications (SSRI antidepressants; medications that reduce testosterone levels, such as those taken for prostate cancer)
  • excessive alcohol use or recreational drug use
  • excessive fatigue
  • systemic illness (such as chronic lung, heart, kidney and liver failure, cancer)
  • low testosterone (male hypogonadism)
  • depression
  • relationship problems

Treatment of decreased libido

As is the case with ED, treatment of decreased libido depends on the cause of the condition. For some men, adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and/or limiting alcohol, can help resolve the problem.

Other treatment options may include switching medications, treating an underlying condition, testosterone replacement hormone therapy if the man has hypogonadism, or relationship counseling.


Bradley Anawalt, MD
University of Washington

Alvin Matsumoto, MD
VA Puget Sound Health Care System

Last review: May 2013