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Psychological factors contributing to low libido: Understanding the connections

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The importance of libido in relationships

 

Libido, or sexual desire, plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Sexual intimacy is an important aspect of romantic relationships, and it can strengthen the bond between partners. It allows couples to connect emotionally and physically and fosters feelings of closeness, love, and security.

Low libido can be a source of frustration for both partners, leading to tension in the relationship. It's important to note that there is no "normal" level of sexual desire.

Libido can vary greatly depending on individual factors such as age, hormones, stress levels, medications, and health conditions. However, if one partner consistently experiences low libido while the other has a high sex drive, it can create conflict in the relationship.

Understanding psychological factors contributing to low libido

While physical factors such as hormonal imbalances or medications can contribute to low sex drive, psychological factors also play a key role. Mental health issues such as anxiety or depression can impact sexual desire by affecting dopamine levels in the brain that are responsible for feelings of pleasure. Additionally, negative body image issues or past trauma related to sexuality may cause someone to feel uncomfortable with physical intimacy and lead to decreased libido.

Relationship problems such as lack of communication or infidelity can also contribute to decreased sexual desire. It's important not to automatically assume that low libido is solely caused by physical factors but instead consider potential psychological contributors as well.

In this article, we will explore various psychological reasons that may lead to low libido, along with suggestions for addressing them effectively. By understanding these connections, one may get help from professional resources available out there.

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Stress and Anxiety: The Silent Killers of Libido

 

Stress and anxiety are the silent killers of libido. These psychological factors can wreak havoc on one's ability to desire and enjoy sexual activity. Stress, in particular, has a profound physiological impact on the body that can compromise sexual function.

The stress response is an evolutionary adaptation that helps us deal with danger. When we perceive a threat, our bodies release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones trigger the "fight or flight" response, which redirects blood flow away from non-essential organs, such as the digestive system, towards our muscles for quick action. In the context of sex, this redirection of blood flow can cause problems such as erectile dysfunction in men or vaginal dryness in women.

Furthermore, elevated levels of cortisol can impair testosterone production in men, which leads to reduced sexual desire. Managing stress is essential for maintaining a healthy libido.

There are various ways to reduce stress levels, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises or taking up a hobby that relaxes you, like painting or gardening. Anxiety can also have an impact on one's libido by creating mental barriers to intimacy.

People with anxiety may find it difficult to relax during sex due to worries about performance or fear of rejection. This psychological state creates a negative feedback loop where anxiety leads to poor sexual experiences, which further reinforces anxiety.

Talking about your feelings with your partner or seeking professional help from a therapist specialising in sex therapy can be helpful when it comes to managing anxiety around sex. Mindfulness and cognitive-behavioural therapy are also effective techniques for reducing anxiety symptoms that may contribute to low libido.

Tips for managing stress:

  • Meditation

  • Prioritising self-care activities like taking a relaxing bath, spending time outdoors or listening to music

  • Regular exercise

  • Taking breaks to do something pleasurable or rewarding in the midst of stressful situations

  • Social support system: Talking with friends, family or a professional

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The Connection between Depression and Low Libido

Depression is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy.

Depression can also have a significant impact on sexual desire and can lead to low libido. When someone is experiencing depression, their brain chemistry changes.

The neurotransmitters that regulate mood, including serotonin and dopamine, are often imbalanced. These imbalances can cause a decrease in libido or an outright lack of sexual desire.

Depression can also lead to physical symptoms such as fatigue or insomnia, which can further exacerbate the problem. A lack of sleep or feeling exhausted all the time can make someone less interested in sex.

Antidepressant Medication and Sexual Desire

Many people who suffer from depression turn to antidepressant medication as a way to manage their symptoms. While these drugs can be effective in treating depression, they often come with side effects that include decreased libido or difficulty achieving orgasm.

Antidepressants work by altering brain chemistry to increase the amount of serotonin available. This increase in serotonin levels may help alleviate depression symptoms but may also interfere with sexual desire.

It's important to note that not all antidepressants have this side effect; some are less likely to cause sexual dysfunction than others. If you're experiencing low libido as a result of taking antidepressant medication, talk to your doctor about switching to another medication or adjusting your dosage.

Addressing Depression while Maintaining Sexual Health

If you're struggling with both depression and low libido, there are things you can do to address both issues simultaneously. Firstly seeking therapy for your mental health could be beneficial in treating both conditions at once; talking about your feelings openly could help take off some pressure from yourself outside the therapy room. Making lifestyle changes like getting more exercise or trying relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga might help with the increase in libido as a distraction from your mental health problems.

It's also important to communicate with your partner and let them know what's going on. They can offer support and understanding and even help you find ways to rekindle your sexual desire.

If you're taking antidepressant medication that is interfering with your sexual health, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options. There are other medications available that may be less likely to cause sexual side effects.

It's essential to recognise the connection between depression and low libido and take steps to address both issues simultaneously. With the right approach, it's possible to manage depression symptoms while maintaining a healthy sex life.

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Body Image Issues: When Your Mind is Your Own Worst Critic

It's no secret that how we feel about our bodies can have a tremendous impact on our self-esteem and confidence. But did you know that negative body image can also lead to decreased libido?

When we are unhappy with our appearance, it's easy to feel self-conscious during intimate moments. Negative thoughts about our bodies can distract us from the pleasure of sex and make it difficult to fully engage in the experience.

This can create a vicious cycle - the less we enjoy sex, the less interested we become in having it. So what can you do if negative body image is impacting your libido?

The first step is to recognise that everyone has flaws and imperfections, and that's okay. In fact, those differences are what make us unique and beautiful.

Try focusing on aspects of your body that you appreciate or find attractive rather than fixating on things you don't like. Another helpful strategy is to take care of your body in ways that make you feel good.

This could mean eating nutritious foods, practising gentle exercises such as yoga or walking, or pampering yourself with a spa treatment or massage. When we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion, it's easier to feel positive about our bodies.

If negative body image is deeply ingrained, it may be worth seeking out professional help such as therapy or counselling. A qualified therapist can help you explore the root causes of your negative beliefs and develop strategies for challenging them.

Remember that great sex isn't just about physical attraction - emotional connection plays a huge role too. Focus on building intimacy with your partner through cuddling, kissing, and other non-sexual touch.

When we feel loved and supported by our partners regardless of physical appearance, it becomes easier to let go of self-doubt during intimate moments. Negative body image can have a significant impact on libido.

However, with a little self-care and compassion, it's possible to shift negative beliefs and improve sexual confidence. Remember that you are worthy of pleasure and intimacy, no matter what your body looks like.

The Impact of Relationship Issues on Libido

Relationship issues can have a significant impact on libido. When there are problems within a relationship, it can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. These emotions can often cause a decrease in sexual desire, which can further exacerbate any existing issues in the relationship.

One common issue that affects libido is communication problems. When partners don't communicate effectively with each other about their needs and desires, it can lead to frustration and resentment.

This lack of communication can also extend to the bedroom, leading to misunderstandings or unsatisfying experiences. To address communication issues in your relationship, it's important to make time for honest conversations.

Schedule regular check-ins where you both have an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings without judgment or interruption. Creating a safe space for open communication can help build trust and increase intimacy.

Another common issue that affects libido is a lack of intimacy between partners. Intimacy involves more than just sex - it's about feeling connected emotionally and physically.

When there's a lack of intimacy in the relationship, it can lead to feelings of loneliness or rejection which may affect sexual desire. If you're experiencing a lack of intimacy with your partner, there are several things you can do to improve the situation.

Start by prioritising quality time together without distractions such as phones or TV screens. You might also consider engaging in activities that promote physical touch, such as cuddling or massage.

Infidelity is another issue that can significantly impact libido in relationships. The discovery of infidelity often leads to feelings of betrayal and loss of trust, which causes emotional pain that may impact sexual desire negatively.

If you're struggling with infidelity in your relationship, seeking professional help may be beneficial before trying any remedies intended at fixing the problem without addressing underlying emotional distress. It's essential first having open conversations with each other, accept what has happened then seek couples therapy or sex therapy to work through the issue.

Recovery is a process, and it's important to be patient and compassionate with each other. Relationship issues can significantly impact libido, creating issues that may be hard to resolve without proper help.

However, open communication and working together can effectively address common relationship issues and improve intimacy levels over time, leading to increased sexual desire. If you're experiencing low libido due to relationship problems, it's essential that you seek professional help if necessary.

Trauma History

 

Revisiting Past Trauma Can Help

 

Trauma survivors often carry the heavy burden of their experiences with them long after the actual events have passed. Triggers, in particular, can be particularly difficult to handle, as they can cause a person to relive a traumatic experience in vivid detail. In addition to mental health concerns like PTSD and anxiety, trauma symptoms can also manifest in physical ways, such as tense muscles or chronic pain.

But there are ways to work through these issues and achieve greater sexual satisfaction. It's important for people who have experienced trauma to understand that it is not their fault that they are experiencing sexual dysfunction.

Rather than blame yourself or feel ashamed, reaching out for support is essential. A therapist who specialises in working with survivors of trauma can help you process your experiences and develop coping skills that specifically address triggers related to sex and intimacy.

How Trauma Affects Sexual Desire

 

Trauma affects people differently,  and while some may experience hypersexuality or an increase in sexual desire following a traumatic event, many others will experience the opposite effect. Feelings of shame or guilt about the event can prevent them from wanting to engage in sexual activity altogether.

PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, hypervigilance, and avoidance behaviours can also interfere with libido by causing anxiety and fear around intimacy-related situations. For example, someone who has been sexually assaulted may avoid any kind of physical touch, including hugging or kissing, out of fear that it may trigger memories of the assault.

Professional Help is Available

 

Addressing past trauma is difficult but necessary when it comes to improving your sex life. While talking about past traumas might be hard at first, it gets easier over time, especially if you seek professional guidance from a skilled therapist.

When looking for professional help dealing with past traumas, there are different types of therapists who specialise in trauma and PTSD. Some may be trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), which are evidence-based treatments to help address the effects of past trauma.

It's important to seek a therapist who specialises in treating trauma, as they will be able to create a safe environment where you can begin to work through your experiences. By identifying triggers, learning coping skills, and developing strategies for communication with sexual partners, you can improve your sex life while also reducing the impact of past trauma on other areas of your life.

Experiencing past trauma can have long-lasting effects on various aspects of life, including sexual desire. It is essential for people who have been through traumatic events to see that they are not alone in their struggle and that professional help is available for them.

It's important to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable enough to share these experiences so that you can begin the process of healing. While it may take time and effort, addressing past traumas in therapy can lead to increased self-awareness, improved communication with others, stronger relationships, and greater sexual satisfaction.

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Medications & Hormonal Imbalances

 

The Medications that may cause low libido as a side effect

 

Many prescription medications can have an impact on libido. Certain antidepressants, antipsychotics, and blood pressure medications are known to cause decreased sex drive. Birth control pills can also affect libido in women by altering hormone levels.

If you are experiencing low libido and are currently taking medication, speak with your doctor about the side effects you are experiencing. They may be able to recommend an alternative medication or dosage that doesn't negatively impact your sexual desire.

Hormonal Imbalances that may contribute to low sex drive

Hormones play a significant role in sexual desire, and imbalances can lead to issues with libido. Women who experience decreased oestrogen levels during menopause often experience a decrease in sex drive as well. In men, low levels of testosterone can also lead to decreased sexual desire.

If you suspect that a hormonal imbalance is affecting your libido, speak with your doctor about testing your hormone levels and exploring potential treatment options. In some cases, lifestyle changes such as exercise and dietary modifications can help balance hormones naturally and improve overall health, including sexual health.

Conclusion

Low libido is a common issue among both men and women. While physical factors such as age or underlying medical conditions may play a role in decreased sexual desire, psychological factors should also be considered.

Stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health issues are known contributors to diminished sex drive, but the good news is they can be treated effectively through therapy sessions or relaxation techniques like yoga & meditation practices which help regulate mind-body connection, thereby aiding in overall wellbeing, including sexual wellness.

 

Additionally, hormonal imbalances caused by medication side effects could be addressed medically, while lifestyle changes like pair bonding activities with a spouse or partner, Sex education classes or Yoga & Exercise groups also promote healthy relationships, enhancing sexual health in turn.

It is important to recognise that low libido is a normal and treatable issue. By addressing the underlying psychological and physical factors contributing to decreased sexual desire, individuals can take control of their sexual health and improve their overall quality of life.

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