How can I get my sex drive back?
December 29, 2011 2:00 PM   Subscribe

How can I get my sex drive back? I am a 26 year old male. I don't recall exactly when my problems started, but it's been going on for over a month. I'd like to think that I'm too young still for such a steep drop in libido to be normal. What makes it more worrisome for me is that I have no idea what might be causing it.

I know that depression, stress, and certain medications are known for lowering libido, but none of these factors apply to me; I'm generally a pretty content and laidback guy and I haven't been taking any medications at all lately. Exercise has been reported as a way to increase libido, but even though I've been doing a lot more aerobic and strength training exercise over the past few weeks(lots of walking/jogging, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc.), I haven't seen any consistent improvement of my sex drive.

There was a time a few years ago when I went through a similar drop in libido, but I ended up finding out that certain food products were responsible for it(mostly soy products), and so once I cut out those foods from my diet the problems disappeared completely. Despite tracking the foods I've been eating and looking for patterns, I've had no such luck this time around in finding a particular food or group of foods responsible for my low libido. I don't know if eating too much fiber is leading to low testosterone for me, but I've always eaten a lot of fiber. I'm not sure if poor sleep or the cold could be causing it, but neither of these factors are totally new for me either. That's just it: there's nothing I can pinpoint about recent times that's significantly different from the way things have been before the libido problems.

Not that my sex drive has gone completely, although the lack of it has been pronounced enough at times that I've almost worried it would go completely. A couple months ago, before the libido troubles started, I could easily get myself in the mood at least every other day, and even every single day with a little extra effort. Now I'm finding myself going 3-4 days in a row at times without feeling a thing down there no matter what I do.

I've occasionally had surges in my sex drive, though. Most notably, in mid-November I experienced an unexpected and unprecedented incredible surge; I was able to jerk off 4 times that day, which is a rare high for me, and I felt like I could've easily gone at it multiple more times if it hadn't been so late and I wasn't so tired. It felt like my crotch was on fire in a good way, and it surprisingly continued into the next day. It was a great feeling, but also pretty exhausting to be so obsessively sex-crazed. The only thing I did which I suspect might have caused the surge is to eat a lot of red meat and fatty foods(said to increase testosterone) the previous day, but I've eaten similar ways since and haven't come close to reproducing the effect. I had also read that zinc can increase libido, and taking zinc supplements seemed to cause short surges the first few times I used them, but had no effect on subsequent tries.

In a way the loss of sex drive has been a good thing for me, as it has given me a lot more free time away from using porn and it has reduced lustful distractions for me. But it still just doesn't seem right as a 26 year old male to be nearly completely unable to jerk off even if I wanted to, after multiple days of not doing so. I can easily get an erection, but I'm just finding the sexual desire to be frustratingly non-existent for me. I don't even necessarily want my libido to be at a high level all the time, but I'd like to find some way to dependably raise it every so often.

Is a low libido known to occur at this age and under similar circumstances to mine? At this point I feel like I have no choice but to see a doctor about this, just to be certain that there are no underlying problems at the root of it. I'd like to change this by lifestyle and diet alone if at all possible, but I suppose the only way I'll be able to find out what has to change is by getting some blood tests done or my hormone levels checked or whatever.

I have no family doctor or medical insurance, so I understand this could cost me, but I don't see what else I can do. Should I seek out a urologist in particular?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

How much Vitamin D do you take? Take more. 5000 UI is a good amount for the winter.
posted by griphus at 2:06 PM on December 29, 2011

What about visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic?

I also agree with Vit. D. That made a difference for me (am a girl though).
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:15 PM on December 29, 2011

Go to the doctor. An endocrinologist is where you will end up but a plain old GP or internist can order the first round of tests just as well.

One thing you should know is that personal record days start to become an amusing thing of the past once you hit thirty or so.
posted by rr at 2:16 PM on December 29, 2011

Response by poster: Are you overweight and if so by how much?

Don't rule out sleep length and quality. As you get older these factors affect you a lot more.
posted by Anonymous at 2:27 PM on December 29, 2011

Obsessively worrying about low libido can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
posted by carsonb at 2:39 PM on December 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Seconding schroedinger on the importance of getting enough sleep.

But really, are you sure you've adequately ruled out the possibility that this might just be a combination of confirmation bias and random seasonal fluctuations? You've experienced a 4-week stint where you tend to want sex 2-3 times per week instead of 3-4 times per week; that doesn't necessarily sound to me like a clear indicator of systemic "libido troubles."

I'll also say that the extremely clinical and precise way in which you appear to monitor fluctuations in your sexual impulses comes off as a little obsessive and anxious... and anxiety is a well-known libido killer. Are you experiencing any adverse relationship consequences from this change in sex-drive? If not, is there anything to prevent your taking a month off from tracking and worrying about your sexual encounters, just to see if the problem fixes itself?
posted by Bardolph at 2:45 PM on December 29, 2011 [8 favorites]

I think the soy thing was purely psychosomatic, and you're wasting your time experimenting with different foods. Anxiety can be a killer on the sex drive, and it sounds to me like the main problem in your case.
posted by hermitosis at 3:05 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You appear to be measuring your libido by your desire for porn.

By all means see a doctor, but also consider finding a person to be with and see if that doesn't answer or moot a lot of these questions.
posted by rhizome at 3:18 PM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

These things wax and wane. Are you sure you are not stressed? When I am, it can make a difference.

Ways I've found to increase arousal are:
Working out
Being sleep deprived (not recommended)
Eating healthy
If you have a partner set some time aside.

But working out turns me (same age as you) into a walking erection, it makes a huge difference.
posted by handbanana at 3:39 PM on December 29, 2011

IANAD but one of many possibilities is hypothyroidism.
posted by forthright at 3:42 PM on December 29, 2011

One month is not a loss of sex drive. You're young and you may think it is, and you have a pretty granular awareness of your [whatever it is you're using to measure libido], but it's a blip. Biology is cyclical. If you're having circulatory or vascular symptoms go see a doctor, otherwise maybe get some fresh air and a change of scenery.

Maybe you're just burning out your dependence on porn. If a decrease in libido has actually given you back a significant amount of free time, that's really a lot of time you were spending on porn.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:43 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is your belief, but if it is, you cannot expect to maintain a young man's libido indefinitely. That said, sudden decreases in libido can be caused by any number of things that have been already mentioned. Specifically on the diet end -- processed foods and vegetable oils, especially those high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, do not promote testosterone production, and at least for me, affect libido negatively. Studies have shown that optimal testosterone production comes from a diet of at least 30% fat, coming from an even mix of saturated and monounsaturated fat. Fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb are ideal. Whole milk and eggs. Lots of leafy green vegetables for minerals and micronutrients.

Even more important than the specific composition of your diet is total calories. The body does not enter "reproduction mode" when hypocaloric.

Also consider the possibility that you are overindulging yourself and are deadening your reward pathways. If you are constantly seeking to sate yourself, do not be surprised if you become sated.
posted by blargerz at 4:02 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

First, let me second (or third, or fourth, or whatever) the suggestion that lack of sleep may be playing a larger role than you think. All kinds of things change as you age; one of those is, for many of us, being more sensitive to both quantity and quality of sleep. Add in even a tiny bit of stress, and you have a recipe for limp dick.

Second, let me also second (etc) that measuring your sex drive by your urge to masturbate is a spectacularly poor measure, especially as you age. I'm older than you, but still have enough sex drive left to happily have sex every day, and more on weekends. But if my wife is out of town or not in the mood for sex, at this point in my life jerking it has all the appeal of eating a cold TV dinner. I'm not saying that this is the case for everyone, just that one's interests can change, and it's important to be measuring something real rather than measuring your boredom with your hand.

Exercise has been reported as a way to increase libido, but even though I've been doing a lot more aerobic and strength training exercise over the past few weeks(lots of walking/jogging, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc.), I haven't seen any consistent improvement of my sex drive.

My purely anecdotal experience is that unless you are doing enough exercise to see a difference in your body (eg larger muscles, less flab, etc), you aren't going to see a difference in your libido. Obviously, as with all things sexual, your mileage may vary, but if you are at all like me, it will take a lot more effort to see those results than you are probably hoping.
posted by Forktine at 5:20 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also wondered if porn just isn't doing it for you anymore? I (female) got bored with it around 25 or 26 (I'm 27 now) and my husband who knows I don't care if he watches it or not said he had started to find it absurd and unappealing around 26. What can suck about porn as opposed to just the imagination is that porn is full of random little details that can ruin what was otherwise working for you; some sound or line of dialogue or change of rhythm or whatever.

He also noted his libido had generally fell off a bit around then except he did not regard it as unusual; he went from nearly every day to every other day, and he said he had figured it would probably dip a bit as he got older. Some guys are wired for daily stuff through their 30s or later, sure, but some decline in the mid-20s isn't that unusual. Aside from maybe trying to masturbate without porn just to see if it's different (not clear whether you already do this), I do wonder if stress and then additional anxiety about this not being normal are worsening things; guys get a lot of social pressure that they're supposed to be insatiable walking erections, especially when they're relatively young, and it seems like it could be easy to be having a bad day or week, not be in the mood at all, and then worry a lot about whether you're somehow broken and just make the problem worse by putting pressure on yourself. It's okay to have a lower sex drive at 26 than you did at 18, I promise. Try not worrying about it for a while, then reassess later if persists and is adversely impacting your life; you might find that your sex drive improves, or that you don't mind that it's a little less. I would worry more about medical and psychological causes after taking a break from thinking about it first.
posted by Nattie at 8:23 PM on December 29, 2011

There are a number of possibilities. Read Matt's description of his brain tumor, its causes, and symptoms. Low libido in a 26 year old man means you call your doctor, and ask for an actual medical opinion. It's not a bad idea to take a multivitamin, make sure you're getting adequate sleep, etc., but you really need a valid medical opinion, not just advice from the Internet, even if it's the pretty darn wonderful
posted by theora55 at 6:25 AM on January 1, 2012

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