The Male Libido

Published March 16, 2009 by Patty Brisben

I have had the opportunity to work with so many women throughout the past 16 years. However, just because Pure Romance is a party plan for women doesn’t mean they don’t have questions regarding men! After all, this was part of the reason I wrote my book Pure Romance Between the Sheets – to give both men and women important information regarding intimacy and sexual health.

Just like with women, there are a number of factors that may affect a man’s sexuality, in positive and negative ways. Below are some of the top male causes of lowered libido.

Stress/anxiety/depression
Stress, anxiety, and depression affect a man’s sexuality in similar ways. These conditions may cause fatigue, which can cause a disinterest in sexual activity. They can also cause a decrease in desire. Stress, anxiety, and depression are also linked to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

Health conditions
There are a number of health conditions that may affect men and their sexuality. The first is diabetes. Diabetes may affect blood vessels, causing them to harden and narrow. When this happens, blood may not flow to all extremities, including the penis. This may lead to erectile difficulties, including an inability to get and maintain erections, as well as having less-firm erections. For men with diabetes, they may take medications, such as Viagra, to help with any erectile difficulties.

Heart disease can also affect the blood vessels and blood flow in a person’s body. This may cause issues with erectile dysfunction among men. Again, medications like Viagra may be an option, although this will vary between men depending on their medical history.

Prostate cancer may affect a man’s sexuality in a number of ways. Prostate cancer treatments often cause issues with urinary incontinence, which may cause a man to be self-conscious and he may lose his interest in sexual activity. Men may also struggle with erectile issues or infertility, which could also affect their self-esteem and their ability to be a good lover. If a man experiences any pain as a result of his prostate cancer, he may experience a disinterest in sexual activity or may struggle with erection concerns. A man may need to speak with his health care provider for suggestions for how to overcome any changes in his sexuality as a result of prostate cancer or disease. It may also be necessary to encourage male customers to redefine how they view sexuality and intimacy. For some men with prostate cancer, having intercourse may be very difficult. For those men, they may need to talk to their partner to discover other ways that they can connect without having intercourse.

Obesity is another health condition that may affect a man’s sexuality. Men may struggle with body image and depression in the same ways that women may, which can impact sexuality and intimacy. Men who do not perform exercise regularly may experience issues of erectile dysfunction. Obese men may also struggle with having blood flow that is necessary to get and maintain erections long enough for intercourse. Fatigue and other health conditions related to obesity may also affect sexuality. Losing weight and exercising are great ways for obese men to overcome any potential changes to their sexuality as a result of being overweight.

Certain medications
Medications for some health conditions may cause issues with a man’s sexuality. For example, medications for heart disease may cause erectile dysfunction for men. Cholesterol-lowering drugs may also affect sexuality, including causing ED. Anti-depressants do not just affect a woman’s desire in sexual activity; they also can affect men. Men taking anti-depressants may experience a decrease in desire and may also struggle with arousal.

Men whose sexuality is affected by certain medications could talk to their health care provider about ways to overcome these issues. For some men, changing their medications or even the dosage is enough to help them (this is not an option for all men, though, and must be discussed with a doctor). Recommendations may vary depending on the medications and the affects they have on a man’s sexuality.

Tobacco/alcohol use
A 2006 study showed a relationship between smoking and erectile dysfunction. Men who smoke or use other tobacco products have been shown to have issues with getting and maintaining erections. Smoking restricts the blood vessels, making it difficult for blood to flow to the penis.

Alcohol is a depressant and it slows down bodily functions when consumed in large amounts. Because of this, drinking large quantities of alcohol may make it difficult for men to get and maintain erections. Men may also lose some control over the amount of time it takes them to ejaculate (either slowing down or speeding up the amount of time).

The best way to overcome the sexuality effects of tobacco and alcohol is to avoid the substances, especially before any sexual activity. Men may need to engage in more foreplay and other activities to help increase their arousal, which may help them overcome any erection difficulties.

Aging
Older adults are still sexual into the later years of their life, but their sexuality is typically affected by aging in some aspect. Aging can affect men in many ways. Some older adults feel the societal pressures to not be sexual and adjust their intimacy according to these views. Many of the sexuality changes experienced in later life are due to health issues more than aging. Cardiovascular problems, chronic pain or arthritis, diabetes, and dementia can all interfere with a person’s sexuality and intimacy. Some of the ways that a man’s sexuality may change as he ages include:

  • Changes in erection: slower, less full, may not last as long, disappears quickly after orgasm, longer time between erections
  • Less sperm volume (although men are able to reproduce well into later life)
  • Loss of ability to detect that ejaculation is nearing

It might be necessary to re-evaluate the definition of intimacy; being intimate does not necessarily mean being sexual. Holding hands, cuddling, or talking can help a man and his partner maintain intimacy even if he is unable or does not want to be sexual. Men should explore other ways of being sexual and intimate with a partner. Communication can help each person maintain their intimacy, as well as learn the other person’s thoughts and feelings about sexuality, intimacy, and aging. Partners should discuss any issues that they may be having and work through them together, trying to find ways to overcome the issue in a way that both people can agree upon.

Certain medications enable both men and women to continue to be intimate throughout life. Men should discuss these medications with a health care provider to determine what is right for them.

Relationship issues
Relationship issues can cause many changes to a man’s sexuality. It is a myth that men are sexual at all times; if a man is having difficulties in his relationship, he may not want to be sexual or intimate with a partner. This may have an affect on his desire and arousal. Relationship problems may also cause stress or anxiety for a man, which could lead to premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction. In these situations, counseling or therapy is the best option for a man and his partner. Working through any issues or concerns is the first step to overcoming any effects to a person’s sexuality as a result of relationship struggles.

Helping men to address the concerns they have regarding their sexual health is a very important step to improving their sexual pleasure. If you or your partner is experiencing side effects from any of these conditions, I strongly recommend you talk to your health care provider. Addressing these concerns will be the first step in improving your relationship!

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