Low libido

Loss of libido (sex drive) is a common problem that affects many men and women at some point in their life. It’s often linked to relationship issues, stress or tiredness, but can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, such as reduced, or altered, sex hormone levels [1].

Everyone’s sex drive is different – there’s no such thing as a “normal” libido. But if you find your lack of desire for sex distressing or it’s affecting your relationship, it’s a good idea to get help [1].

The most common causes of loss of libido are [1];

Some people find that their libido varies during the menstrual cycle [2], during or after pregnancy [3], or at menopause [4]. Loss of libido can also be a side effect of hormonal medications [5].

Note: If your symptoms are caused by your hormonal medication, we suggest that you discuss your options with a doctor. These steps may reduce symptom severity, but are unlikely to be able to stop them completely whilst you remain on the same medication.

TOP TIP! Spicy foods may increase your sex drive because they cause the same symptoms as arousal, such as sweating, increased heart rate and blushing cheeks…

Managing hormone-related loss of libido:

Try a hormone-balancing diet– As outlined in this blog, a vegetable-based ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet can significantly improve all hormone-related symptoms.

Avoid alcohol-Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period can reduce your sex drive, so it’s a good idea not to drink too much [1].

Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 alcohol units a week on a regular basis. Read some tips on cutting down on alcohol and find out where to get support for a drinking problem if you think you need it [1].

Try a nutritional supplement?– Various online sources suggest that zinc, omega 3, soy, L-arginine, or vitamin B complex, can increase libido- but the clinical evidence is lacking…

Improving self-esteem and reducing stress levels- Our emotional state can affect our sex drive… So, it is important to ensure that your self-esteem is able to withstand the stresses and strains of a romantic relationship.

NoteThe Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre produces a highly effective (and cheap!) booklet on ‘Building self-esteem’

Reducing stress levels may also improve libido [1]. Some ways to help relieve stress include:

In many cases, ensuring adequate lubrication, and improving communication between sexual partners, is far more likely to improve and sustain a healthy sex drive than any other intervention. The Sexual Advice Association provides fact sheets on a variety of issues, including loss of libido.

If you have tried the suggested tips and tricks for at least 3 months, and your symptoms do not improve, please consult your doctor.

If you have any suggestions, or tips, for managing loss of libido- please let us know– we can share them with others!

Further information:

Page last reviewed and updated: June 2018


1. NHS. (2017) Loss of libido. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/loss-of-libido/Pages/Introduction.aspx. [Accessed 25 July 2017].

2. Brown SG, Calibuso MJ, Roedl AL. (2011) Women’s sexuality, well-being, and the menstrual cycle: methodological issues and their interrelationships. Arch Sex Behav.  Aug;40(4):755-65. doi: 10.1007/s10508-010-9630-3

3. Gałązka I, Drosdzol-Cop A, Naworska B, Czajkowska M, Skrzypulec-Plinta V. (2015) Changes in the sexual function during pregnancy. J Sex Med. Feb;12(2):445-54. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12747.

4. Leiblum SR, Koochaki PE, Rodenberg CA, Barton IP, Rosen RC. (2006) Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women: US results from the Women’s International Study of Health and Sexuality (WISHeS) Menopause 13(1):46–56

5. Burrows LJ, Basha M, Goldstein AT. The effects of hormonal contraceptives on female sexuality: a review. J Sex Med. 2012 Sep;9(9):2213-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02848.x.