Sex used to be so simple. But as life gets more complicated, so does your sex drive. Whereas once you were ready to go at the drop of a hat, there are a number of emotional, physical, and psychological concerns that can easily dampen your drive. We talked to a handful of experts and compiled this list of the 16 biggest libido busters.
1. Six Hours of Sleep
We are a nation of chronically sleep-deprived adults. This is not only affecting our looks, health, and ability to deal with everyday stressors, it’s also killing our sex drive. According to Dr. Robert D. Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, MO, chronic sleep deprivation, which can occur even if you get a solid six hours a night (the majority of adults need a at least seven), can lower levels of testosterone—the sex drive hormone—in both men and women.
Chronic snoring not only interrupts the snorer’s sleep, but also the person sleeping beside them. Suffering from sleep apnea, a condition that causes abnormal breathing throughout the night, can also result in chronic sleep deprivation, which not only affects sex drive but also increases appetite, leading to weight gain, Dr. Oexman says.
3. A Chronically Blue Mood
Depression is a common cause of poor sex drive and, in classic chicken and egg fashion, is often a reason for poor sleep quality. Not to mention that it can cause weight gain, leading to other libido-dampening medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, Dr. Oexman says.
4. Weight Gain
If the jeans you wore in college (or even last year) won’t go past mid thigh, there’s a good chance you’ve gone up two full pant sizes—about 20 extra pounds. Not loving how you look naked certainly won’t help your sex drive, plus those health conditions associated with weight gain can interfere with sex drive, adding insult to injury.
5. A Not-So Healthy Heart
Acording to Cully Carson, MD, a Rhodes distinguished professor of Urology at the University of North Carolina, one of the first things doctors check for when a patient complains of erectile dysfunction (ED) is underlying vascular disease or heart problems. If your arteries aren’t up to snuff, it can inhibit blood flow to the genital area, resulting in weak erections. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can also cause ED.
6. Your Medicine Cabinet
Ironically, some of the drugs used to treat the conditions that decrease sex drive (the SSRI family of depression medications, some high blood pressure meds) can dampen it on their own.
“Any drug that affects the central nervous system can impact sex drive,” Dr. Carson says.
7. Your Neck
At the base of your throat is the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism via thyroid hormones. According to Karen Boyle, MD, a urologic surgeon at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and an expert in male and female sexual health, an abnormal thyroid can significantly decrease sex drive, especially in post-menopausal women. Depending on the type of thyroid abnormality, it could also lead to weight gain, which (hello chicken and egg) can mess with your sex drive as well.
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