Why Low Sex Drive is a Symptom Worth Investigating

Warning ⸺ This article includes references to potentially upsetting topics, including sexual assault and sexual trauma. Reader discretion is advised. 

Sexual desire is complicated. Everyone is unique with different desires, physiology, cultures, experiences, quirks, kinks, and much more. Sexuality is a huge factor as well; for instance, if you’re asexual, you may not even experience sexual desire at all.

However, if you do, I find that it’s something worth talking about.

Libido is another word for sexual drive and desire. It’s rarely talked about in an open and informative way, and doctors rarely ever ask about low sex drive.

Low libido can be a really important symptom that may tell us something else is going on below the surface that’s worth investigating. Just as pain is a symptom alerting us that something is off in our body, the lack of a libido is alarming and can point toward deeper health issues— physical and mental. And if you experience low libido, know that you are not alone, and it’s not your fault.

Given my extensive experience with this personally and in practice, the following is what I find to be the overarching root causes for low libido in menstruators.

Hormonal Imbalances

There are many players involved in the incredibly complex endocrine system, which means many opportunities for things to go wrong.

Our body loves when things are just right and when they aren’t, we do not run optimally. Although there are many hormones involved in sexuality, these are three of the most common low libido hormonal imbalances I see in practice:

    1. Low Testosterone
    2. Low DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)
    3. High Prolactin 

These are a few of the top libido-boosting hormones we have, and imbalances in their levels can cause low sex drive. Click on each item to learn more about what causes each respective imbalance.

Negative Neurological Programming

Our bodies have physical responses to learned associations based on past experiences. This allows us to react appropriately if and when that experience ever happens again. 

If you’ve ever been sexually assaulted, or raised in a home where sex was made shameful, your brain remembers these negative experiences as part of sex. This can cause our body to shut down around sexual interactions, even if our conscious mind doesn’t want it to. Read more on how our brains can affect libido.

Ultimately, sexual desire— or the lack thereof— is incredibly complex and often multifactorial. However, low libido is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it may be a blessing in disguise, bringing awareness to some imbalance that may have been otherwise overlooked. Such was the case for me in my own personal journey.

I urge you to seek help from a health professional who understands and works with low libido to help you get your sex drive and your life back!

This is an excerpt from a post written by Dr. Leah Gordon, ND, a naturopathic and functional medicine doctor based in San Diego, CA. Founder of Tribe Medicine and Womanhood Wellness. She loves teaching and empowering others to live healthier lives for themselves, their children, and their communities.
Abridged content curated and edited by Jean Lin. Expanded to include a trigger warning, as well as additional language and context to be gender-inclusive.

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