It breaks my heart when I talk to men who feel like “less of a man” because they aren’t always in the mood for sex. I hear from many men who say they feel emasculated or shamed because they believe other men have a higher sex drive than they do.
Many women may not realize that this is a common issue that men deal with, but as a sex therapist with 4 decades of experience, I can tell you that it is not uncommon for men to have shame or self-hatred over the fact that they aren’t ‘horny’ enough.
Think about it: Common urban legends tell us that the average man thinks about sex every 7 seconds. We expect that men are constantly in the mood and raring to go, anytime day or night, no matter what else might be going on in their lives.
That’s kind of an unfair expectation, isn’t it? Why wouldn’t stress, illness, medications, hormones, lack of sleep, poor diet, and other lifestyle issues decrease a man’s desire? We need to stop normalizing and promoting the idea that men are always in the mood for sex. It’s harmful to both men and to women. It’s harmful to men because they are ashamed to seek help when they are struggling with low desire, and because they think there is something deeply wrong with them that just can’t be fixed (which is so not the case).
It’s harmful to women because when their male partners aren’t in the mood, women tend to take it deeply personally. They assume their partner is no longer attracted to them or even wonder if he is cheating or getting his needs met elsewhere. This causes a breakdown in communication, affection, and intimacy even outside of sexual intimacy. It becomes a vicious cycle in which both partners are left feeling bad about themselves and fearing there is something wrong with them or their relationship.
I am here to say that low desire in men is not uncommon. It happens to almost every man at some point or another. Common medications like anti-depressants or hair-loss medications can decrease desire. Weight gain or alcohol use can also decrease desire, along with other substances like nicotine or THC. And hormonal changes like a decrease in testosterone as men age can also lead to low desire. Stress, financial anxiety, relationship woes, and depression can all sap a man’s desire and mean that sex is the absolute last thing on his mind.
We need to start being more compassionate and understanding of the fact that we put a lot of pressure on men to be these hyper-sexual beings. It doesn’t do them any favors and it doesn’t do women any favors. Men sometimes have high desire, and they sometimes have low desire, just like women.
But the good news is that if you are a man who is struggling with low desire, there are many things you can do to start regaining your desire.
First, listen to episode 93 of my podcast “The Language of Love,” in which I discuss men and low sexual desire. If you have a partner, invite them to listen along with you. This needs to be a relationship discussion because it’s important that your partner supports you and that she understands that your lack of desire isn’t because you don’t love her or you aren’t attracted to her anymore.
Second talk to your doctor. Find out if you might have different medication options if you fear your current meds are sapping your desire. There is no need to be embarrassed: Your doctor knows sexual health is an important part of physical and emotional health, and they will help you investigate solutions that work for you. You may need to get your hormones tested and find out if your testosterone is low. You might also be suffering from low vitamin D which can contribute to depression and a general feeling of malaise and lack of motivation.
Third, get active. Try to do something physical every day, even if it’s just a walk after dinner. Or lift weights with your buddies or play a pickup basketball game. Get your blood moving to help you get those feel-good endorphins so you can destress and sleep better. And limit the amount of alcohol and other substances you consume: These can lead to lower desire with repeated, extended use
And be very careful with porn. If you’re watching a lot of porn (as many people do), you’re going to be expending all your sexual energy all alone with your laptop or phone. Sexual desire and energy can be finite, especially if you are struggling with low desire. So you don’t want to waste that desire on a screen, when you can be channeling it towards your partner. This doesn’t mean you can’t use pornography, but try to do so in a limited way that doesn’t become obsessive or replace real sexual connection with your partner.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with you just because you suffer from low desire. Men don’t always have to be in the mood in order to be masculine or powerful. But if you do need help increasing your desire, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your doctor or even try a sex therapist alone or with your partner. Commit to making your sexual desire a priority and you will find that desire returns tenfold.