Many men equate their virility with their masculinity, and when things go south below the belt, some guys understandably panic.
Multiple reasons exist for why a guy may not feel up to getting fun and frisky between the sheets. Identifying the source of the problem represents the first step in resolving the matter.
Sometimes, a man needs medical intervention in order to overcome low sex drive as the issue stems from an underlying disorder or hormonal imbalance. Other times, though, making simple lifestyle changes can resolve the issue and restore men back to their healthy, sexually-active selves.
Here are seven potential reasons the fellas may struggle with their sex drive and how they can get back to feeling their best.
1. Carrying Too Much Extra Weight
Carrying too much weight, especially excess abdominal fat, can put a serious damper on the sex drive. In fact, researchers believe sexual dysfunction may indicate the first sign of cardiovascular disease in men. Once a man develops cardiovascular disease, his doctor may contraindicate sexual activity, so it's important to take action immediately when libido begins flagging.
Men who are carrying too much weight do well to shed the excess pounds. The best way to do so is by cutting back on daily calorie consumption by 500-1,000 calories per day depending on average intake — most men do well to consume 1,500-2,000 calories daily.
Additionally, men benefit from taking at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise daily.
2. Exercising Too Much or Too Little
If moderate exercise daily is good, more must be better, right? Not necessarily. While exercising too little can lead to a decrease in libido, so can going all out at the gym day after day.
Why? It has to do in part with blood flow. In order to experience arousal, blood flow increases to the genital region. Without this critical flow of blood, men fail to feel turned on and experience difficulty maintaining an erection. This explains why too little exercise decreases libido — sluggish blood is slower to flow to any part of the body — but what about exercising too much?
Researchers theorize exercising at too high intensities for extended periods of time results in something called exercise hypogonadal male condition. This occurs when levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormones drop due to prolonged exertion. This explains why sometimes elite bodybuilders experience a decrease in the size of their testes.
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3. Drinking Too Much
Everyone has heard how one or two drinks can fuel desire, but too much boozing can douse the flames of ardor. And this certainly proves true medically. Even though alcohol lights up the reward center of the brain, it's also a depressant, meaning too much decreases desire.
Don't worry about never kicking back to enjoy Friday happy hour, though. In moderation, alcohol won't decrease sexual desire or performance. However, long term abuse of alcohol can damage various organs of the body permanently, including those of the reproductive system, so those who fear they may have a drinking problem do well to check into therapy resources and free support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
4. Smoking Cigarettes
Those who smoke do well to quit now if they hope to enjoy a healthy sex life long into their golden years, and this goes doubly true for men. One reason smoking cigarettes destroys arousal in males has to do with blood flow. Smoking narrows blood vessels, making it more difficult for blood to flow freely. And as blood flow is critical to maintaining an erection, those insisting on continued tobacco use should not be surprised to find their flags flying at half staff.
Some researchers go so far as to consider smoking an abusive third partner in many relationships. Many couples use cigarettes as a subtle means of communication, especially if one partner smokes and the other does not. The smoking partner may use cigarettes passive aggressively to avoid interacting with their partner or even to push their partner away from wanting sexual interaction.
Additionally, smoking can increase the risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the reproductive tract. Nicotine withdrawal can prove tough, but free resources exist to help those who want to quit.
Men looking to kick the habit do well to visit government-sponsored websites for free tools and help.
5. Prescription Medications
Certain prescription medications can impact male libido. For example, men with chronic pain conditions on long-term doses of opioid-based medications often develop erectile dysfunction and difficulties experiencing sensation. Even men who can attain erections can experience difficulty reaching orgasm as such medications are known to contribute to low sex drive.
A number of other medications also can hinder erectile difficulties and decrease sex drive. Many antidepressants and tranquilizers used to treat anxiety dampen the libido. Certain heart medications, anti-seizure medications, even antihistamines used to treat allergies can impact levels of desire. Men who suspect their medication may be causing their low levels of sexual interest do well to discuss alternate options with their physicians.
6. Underlying Medical Issues
A number of medical issues can lead to low sex drive in men. One cause of lowered libido includes hormonal dysfunction. When the hormones become out of balance or testosterone levels drop as part of the aging process, sexual desire decreases as well.
In addition, certain neurological disorders can impede sexual function. Diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease can impact arousal, as can the medications used to treat these conditions.
One primary medical cause of sexual dysfunction in men is diabetes. Both type I and type II diabetes can cause men difficulty in becoming aroused, although type II diabetes is controllable through natural means as well as through medication. As carrying too much extra weight is a primary risk factor for type II diabetes, maintaining a healthy body weight can stave off the disease.
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7. Too Much Stress
Finally, some sexual dysfunction occurs when men feel stressed out. Men face high levels of stress in today's society, especially considering economic factors have rendered it difficult for many to assume the traditional breadwinner role. As a result, many grind extra hard in the workplace, leaving them exhausted after hours.
Everyone experiences high levels of stress from time to time. Men do well to practice gentle stress management techniques such as doing yoga, going for walks, journaling about emotions and engaging in enjoyable recreational activities, whether this means going fishing or playing video games. Those who can afford to do so benefit from taking a vacation to step back and relax. If letting go of tension proves impossible, cognitive behavioral therapy may help.
Help for Men with Sexual Dysfunction
Regardless of why a man experiences sexual dysfunction, it can be distressing and impact their closest personal relationships. By identifying the underlying cause of the problem and addressing it, fortunately, most men can return to a normal, healthy sex life.