Aging and libido in men and women

Although sexuality remains an important component of emotional and physical intimacy that most men and women desire to experience throughout their lives, It’s natural for men and women to notice a gradual decrease in sex drive (libido) as they age. The degree of this decline varies,. Most of the men maintain at least some amount of sexual interest well into their 60s and 70s.

In women the cause of sexual dysfunction is not well studied. The prevalence of sexual dysfunction among all women is estimated to be between 25% and 63%; the prevalenc in postmenopausal women is even higher, with rates between 68% and 86.5%. Increasing recognition of this common problem and future research in this field may alter perceptions about sexuality, dismiss taboo and incorrect thoughts on sexual dysfunction, and spark better management for patients, allowing them to live more enjoyable lives.

Sometimes, however, loss of sex drive is related to an underlying condition. Depression and stress often contribute to loss of sex drive in men and women.

Sometimes the culprit is a decrease in male sex hormones due to an endocrine disorder. In other cases, loss of sex drive may be a medication side effect.

If you’re concerned about loss of sex drive — especially if the loss happened abruptly — consult your doctor. He or she will likely take a detailed history, do a physical exam and request lab tests to help determine what’s causing the loss of sex drive.

Once any underlying factors are identified, your doctor can suggest appropriate treatment options. For example:

  • If loss of sex drive is related to stress or depression, psychotherapy alone or in combination with antidepressant medication may help.
  • Some medical conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, can cause an unusually low testosterone level, and treatment can return your testosterone level and sex drive to normal. If no medical cause is found, treatment options may include testosterone replacement therapy.
  • If a certain medication is contributing to loss of sex drive, your doctor may suggest an alternate drug.
  • Menopause can oftentimes wreak havoc on women’s hormonal, emotional and sexual health
  • Many other ovarian disorders like poly cystic ovarian disorder do contribute significantly to reduced sexual drive.


Sexual dysfunction is more prevalent in women (43%) than in men (31%), prevalence varies among women of different racial groups, and that it is associated with both a history of traumatic sexual experiences and deteriorating social position. Young age, being in a significant relationship versus no relationship, higher education and income, not smoking, moderate alcohol use, and lower body mass index (BMI) are associated with a reporting of moderate sexual activity.

Sexual dysfunction in the elderly population has often focused on the lack of estrogen as a main cause.

The most common sexual concerns of women of all ages include loss of sexual desire, problems with arousal, inability to achieve orgasm, painful intercourse, negative body image, and diminished sexual desirability and attractiveness. Although aging and functional decline may affect sexual function, when sexual dysfunction is diagnosed, physicians should rule out comorbid disease or deleterious side effects of medications contributing to those symptoms. Common disorders related to sexual dysfunction and increasing age include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lower urinary tract symptoms, and depression. Treating those disorders or modifying lifestyle-related risk factors (eg, obesity) may help prevent or diminish sexual dysfunction in the elderly. A limiting factor that will need to be overcome for women in this group is that, although sexuality is important for older adults, interest in discussing aspects of their sexual life with their physicians is variable.

Some people have a hard time discussing sex with their doctors. But treatments are often available for a loss of sex drive, so it’s worth it to have an open and honest talk with your doctor.



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