This theme was circulated in 2006 by WebMD but without the women’s interest. Yet it seems to me that a man not wanting sex is the woman’s problem, as much as the man’s (or more so). Maybe he’s OK with no passion but that’s frustrating to the partner.
My reading demographic is mainly middle age and Boomers, so this should be a topic of interest to many readers. I have chosen the ones I consider to be the most important 10; not the same as WebMD’s selection.
The first question to ask is: is there really a problem at all? It’s widely held that men are all hungry studs and will want sex at every available opportunity. That really isn’t true for most men. Once the wild passion of new romance wears off, a more realistic agenda for regular sex may be relatively infrequently.
Also, the woman may be negative about sex. If she gives out the wrong signals, saying she is not interested, a sensitive man may respond by quenching his own desires. It’s still a problem. But I always say, you have to get the real cause to be able to make any successful change.
I recall a patient complaining her husband wasn’t up for much sex; I told her to bring him along and I’d fix him. So I did! He jumped her bones and she came back to me, very distressed. “It was disgusting,” she complained, “I’d rather go shopping than have sex at my age.”
Poor guy, I thought!
All that said, here’s a list of the ten most common reasons why men may not want sex:
- Medications. Some drugs are notorious for killing libido. Blood pressure medication and anti-depressants are the two main culprits. But, again, I have seen many other substances do it. It’s often an individual thing. So if libido is low, discuss coming off medication. Try to solve the problem that required medication, instead of just masking it with drugs.
- Along with meds comes alcohol and recreational drugs abuse. These are just as bad. You remember Shakespeare’s oft-quoted joke (from Hamlet) that alcohol provokes the desire but takes away the performance. Well, after a while it gets worse than that: alcohol takes away the desire too. Street drugs are often as bad. If you are in an active loving relationship, you should not be abusing drugs and drink, for your partner’s sake. Stop doing it.
- Fatigue. Next comes lack of adequate rest and sleep. When we are younger, men will often stir from sleep, or put it off, even when tired, for the delights of a sexual encounter. But, as people and relationships age, sex can lose its compelling nature and a good night’s rest can be quite tempting. It is possible to be just too tired to be aroused.
- Hormonal levels. Our libido comes from testosterone and as we age, particularly after 50, levels begin to fall to where they affect sex drive. Don’t let your ignorant doctor test for total testosterone; it’s FREE testosterone that affects our libido. But two feminizing hormones are also relevant and should be checked: prolactin and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Dihydrotestosterone is simply measured indirectly, as SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin).
- Undetected organic illness. This is an astonishingly prevalent causer of sexual dysfunction; it just doesn’t get diagnosed enough. If you are partnered to a man who seems to have “gone off” sex, always insist that a doctor take a proper look for physical illness, beyond the causes listed here. Heart disease, diabetes and early cancer are just some causes of physiological stress, which in turn leads to sexual de-tunement.
- Obesity. Really, this is a disease state in its own right. You simply cannot be healthy and obese; it’s a contradiction. And whatever they say about cheerful fatties, my experience with most is that they are unhappy with themselves and their image. Erotic feelings do not thrive in the presence of this sort of self-directed negativity.
- Out of sensory sync with the mate. Failing to meet each other’s sensory needs is probably the biggest destroyer of sexual delight. By that I mean that the man loves words, the woman likes only touch; or she likes words (“Talk dirty to me”) and he likes visuals (black panties and so forth).
- Middle-age disempowerment. The “mid-life crisis” really does exist. It can start suddenly, on some trivial setback or relatively minor incident, as well as big issues, like failure, redundancy, death of a family member, bankruptcy etc. The man begins to feel uncertain about his role and achievements. Sometimes a loss of faith is the trigger.
- Quarrelling. The longer a relationship survives, the more disagreements build up. It takes great wisdom and tenderness to steer these flare ups away from permanent damage to the relationship. Some spouses will punish their partner by withholding sex, but for others it’s not a matter of punishment, they just cannot muster sexual feelings when there are unresolved conflicts.
- Embarrassment. Poor performance is a source of great humiliation for a man. Moreover, it becomes self-reinforcing: one failure leads to performance-anxiety and makes subsequent failures more likely. Typically, a man will avoid sexual activity altogether, rather than face the embarrassment of what he sees as failure.
Sometimes, as I said at the start, there is the question of whether there really is a low sex drive or a dysfunction. One way to test this is masturbation. If the man can muster arousal feelings and a good erection, even without reference to his life partner, then he knows that the “equipment” is working OK. There is just not enough stimulus in normal relations.
That’s at least pointing to the right problem, which can then be solved. Item #7 might be the one to focus on.
I’d just like to say a word about masturbation and “other” sources of arousal. These days porn is so readily available on the Internet, many men access it because they find it spicier than the real thing. Ladies: the problem is NOT the man indulging in porn; the porn is his SOLUTION! The problem is he’s not getting what he wants otherwise.
The Internet makes porn so readily available—just a click of the mouse—that many men who might not have sought out other sources of visual sexual stimulation (magazines, videos, movies) have found their way to locate sexual imagery online.
This alarms some sex worker but not me. Porn can be quite arousing and lead to MORE of the real thing. If it replaces physical sex relations, the porn isn’t the problem, as I have already said. So porn is NOT one of my top 10, as it is in the WebMD listing.
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