Physical health and sexual health go hand-in-hand. When a man’s health suffers or he is not comfortable in his own skin, it often leads to a waning sex drive. In fact, according to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, as many as one in five men have such low sexual desire that they claim they’d rather do almost anything than have sex!
So what's behind low sexual desire? Aging plays a role — though many older men have a robust interest in sex — but desire can be impacted for a whole host of reasons, and many of them have roots in physical causes including:
High blood pressure: Recent studies have shown that high blood pressure may contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is often considered the main contributor to loss of desire because it usually leads to a cycle of unmet expectations and disappointment in both partners.
High cholesterol: High cholesterol may be an early sign of heart disease — specifically atherosclerosis, in which fatty deposits line the arteries and harden, restricting blood flow. Early detection of high cholesterol can help prevent heart disease and the erectile difficulties that accompany it due to impaired blood flow to the penis.
Diabetes: In some cases, diabetes can injure the nerves in the penis and lessen its sensitivity; low testosterone is also common in men who have type 2 diabetes.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese can contribute to a variety of sex-related problems, both physical and psychological (a man might avoid sex because he is unhappy with his appearance).
Symptoms of depression: Depression may be both a cause and a result of erectile dysfunction.
Low testosterone: Low testosterone levels usually lead to low sexual desire. Levels dip as men age; additional causes include chronic disease, medications, and other drug use. Other hormones can play a role, too, such as low levels of thyroid hormone or, rarely, high levels of prolactin, a hormone produced in a gland at the base of the brain.
Low dopamine levels: Sexual desire obviously involves the brain — and the brain's chemical messaging system is intimately linked to sexual desire. One of those messengers is dopamine. Doctors have noted that Parkinson's disease patients treated with dopamine-stimulating drugs had increased sexual desire.
The best thing your partner can do for his sex life (and yours!) is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise keeps the body fit, enhances blood flow in all parts of the body, releases endorphins, and has positive effects on erectile function. Eating a sensible diet, moderating alcohol consumption, refraining from smoking, and managing any other addictions will also make a big difference. Good health — and good sex — are the rewards the body gives us for treating it well.
Ultimately, your partner is responsible for his own physical, sexual, and emotional health — but you can encourage him to address his physical issues and make lifestyle modifications so he can live his life to the fullest.