Here's What Having a “Normal” Sex Drive Really Means

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Conversely, a person can engage in sexual activity without an actual desire for it. Multiple factors affect human sex drive, including stress, illness, pregnancy, and others. A review found that, on average, men have a higher desire for sex than women. Sexual desires are often an important factor in the formation and maintenance of intimate relationships in humans.

A lack or loss of sexual desire can adversely affect relationships. Changes in the sexual desires of any partner in a sexual relationship, if sustained and unresolved, may cause problems in the relationship. The infidelity of a partner may be an indication that a partner's changing sexual desires can no longer be satisfied within the current relationship.

Problems can arise from disparity of sexual desires between partners, or poor communication between partners of sexual needs and preferences. Sigmund Freud , who is considered the originator of the modern use of the term, [4] defined libido as "the energy, regarded as a quantitative magnitude He also explained that it is analogous to hunger, the will to power, and so on [6] insisting that it is a fundamental instinct that is innate in all humans.

Freud developed the idea of a series of developmental phases in which the libido fixates on different erogenous zones—first in the oral stage exemplified by an infant's pleasure in nursing , then in the anal stage exemplified by a toddler's pleasure in controlling his or her bowels , then in the phallic stage , through a latency stage in which the libido is dormant, to its reemergence at puberty in the genital stage.

Freud pointed out that these libidinal drives can conflict with the conventions of civilised behavior, represented in the psyche by the superego. It is this need to conform to society and control the libido that leads to tension and disturbance in the individual, prompting the use of ego defenses to dissipate the psychic energy of these unmet and mostly unconscious needs into other forms. Excessive use of ego defenses results in neurosis. A primary goal of psychoanalysis is to bring the drives of the id into consciousness , allowing them to be met directly and thus reducing the patient's reliance on ego defenses.

Freud viewed libido as passing through a series of developmental stages within the individual. Failure to adequately adapt to the demands of these different stages could result in libidinal energy becoming 'dammed up' or fixated in these stages, producing certain pathological character traits in adulthood.

Thus the psychopathologized individual for Freud was an immature individual, and the goal of psychoanalysis was to bring these fixations to conscious awareness so that the libido energy would be freed up and available for conscious use in some sort of constructive sublimation. According to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung , the libido is identified as the totality of psychic energy, not limited to sexual desire. Libido is appetite in its natural state. From the genetic point of view it is bodily needs like hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex, and emotional states or affects, which constitute the essence of libido.

Defined more narrowly, libido also refers to an individual's urge to engage in sexual activity , and its antonym is the force of destruction termed mortido or destrudo. Libido is governed primarily by activity in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens. Other neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and sex hormones that affect sex drive by modulating activity in or acting upon this pathway include:.

A woman's desire for sex is correlated to her menstrual cycle , with many women experiencing a heightened sexual desire in the several days immediately before ovulation , [31] which is her peak fertility period, which normally occurs two days before until two days after the ovulation.

According to Gabrielle Lichterman, testosterone levels have a direct impact on a woman's interest in sex. According to her, testosterone levels rise gradually from about the 24th day of a woman's menstrual cycle until ovulation on about the 14th day of the next cycle, and during this period the woman's desire for sex increases consistently. The 13th day is generally the day with the highest testosterone levels. In the week following ovulation, the testosterone level is the lowest and as a result women will experience less interest in sex.

Also, during the week following ovulation, progesterone levels increase, resulting in a woman experiencing difficulty achieving orgasm. Although the last days of the menstrual cycle are marked by a constant testosterone level, women's libido may get a boost as a result of the thickening of the uterine lining which stimulates nerve endings and makes a woman feel aroused. Although some specialists disagree with this theory, menopause is still considered by the majority a factor that can cause decreased sex desire in women.

The levels of estrogen decrease at menopause and this usually causes a lower interest in sex and vaginal dryness which makes intercourse painful. However, the levels of testosterone increase at menopause and this may be why some women may experience a contrary effect of an increased libido.

Certain psychological or social factors can reduce the desire for sex. These factors can include lack of privacy or intimacy , stress or fatigue , distraction or depression. Environmental stress, such as prolonged exposure to elevated sound levels or bright light , can also affect libido. Other causes include experience of sexual abuse, assault, trauma, or neglect, body image issues, and anxiety about engaging in sexual activity.

Individuals with PTSD may find themselves with reduced sexual desire. Struggling to find pleasure, as well as having trust issues, many with PTSD experience feelings of vulnerability, rage and anger, and emotional shutdowns, which have been shown to inhibit sexual desire in those with PTSD. For women, it has been found that treatment can improve sexual function, thus helping restore sexual desire. Physical factors that can affect libido include endocrine issues such as hypothyroidism , the effect of certain prescription medications for example flutamide , and the attractiveness and biological fitness of one's partner, among various other lifestyle factors.

In males, the frequency of ejaculations affects the levels of serum testosterone, a hormone which promotes libido. A study of 28 males aged 21—45 found that all but one of them had a peak Anemia is a cause of lack of libido in women due to the loss of iron during the period. Smoking , alcohol abuse , and the use of certain drugs can also lead to a decreased libido. Some people purposefully attempt to decrease their libido through the usage of anaphrodisiacs. On the other hand, a reduced libido is also often iatrogenic and can be caused by many medications, such as hormonal contraception , SSRIs and other antidepressants , antipsychotics , opioids and beta blockers.

Many SSRIs can cause a long term decrease in libido and other sexual functions, even after users of those drugs have shown improvement in their depression and have stopped usage. Some antidepressant users have tried decreasing their dosage in the hopes of maintaining an adequate sex drive. Results of this are often positive, with both drug effectiveness not reduced and libido preserved.

Other users try enrolling in psychotherapy to solve depression-related issues of libido. However, the effectiveness of this therapy is mixed, with lots reporting that it had no or little effect on sexual drive. The exact causes of PSSD have not been determined. Symptoms for men include erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation , while women may experience decreased or loss of vaginal lubrication , nipple insensitivity, and anorgasmia.

The first is early onset, with symptoms first being reported during SSRI usage and continuing after treatment, with the second classification occurring after the user stops usage of SSRIs. There are currently no recognized treatments for PSSD. Testosterone is one of the hormones controlling libido in human beings. Emerging research [44] is showing that hormonal contraception methods like oral contraceptive pills which rely on estrogen and progesterone together are causing low libido in females by elevating levels of sex hormone binding globulin SHBG.

SHBG binds to sex hormones, including testosterone, rendering them unavailable. Research is showing that even after ending a hormonal contraceptive method, SHBG levels remain elevated and no reliable data exists to predict when this phenomenon will diminish. Oral Contraceptives lower androgen levels in users, and lowered androgen levels generally lead to a decrease in sexual desire. However, usage of oral contraceptives has shown to typically not have a connection with lowered libido in women.

Males reach the peak of their sex drive in their teenage years, while females reach it in their thirties. In contrast, a female's libido increases slowly during adolescence and peaks in her mid-thirties. Some boys and girls will start expressing romantic or sexual interest by age The romantic feelings are not necessarily sexual, but are more associated with attraction and desire for another.

In addition, boys are much more likely to report an interest in sexual intercourse at this age than girls. People in their 60s and early 70s generally retain a healthy sex drive, but this may start to decline in the early to mid 70s.

Aging adults often have more positive attitudes towards sex in older age due to being more relaxed about it, freedom from other responsibilities, and increased self-confidence. Those exhibiting negative attitudes generally cite health as one of the main reasons. Stereotypes about Aging adults and sexuality often regard seniors as asexual beings, doing them no favors when they try to talk about sexual interest with caregivers and medical professionals.

Residence in retirement homes has affects on residents libidos. In these homes, sex occurs, but it is not encouraged by the staff or other residents. Lack of privacy and resident gender imbalance are the main factors lowering desire. There is no widely accepted measure of what is a healthy level for sex desire.

Some people want to have sex every day, or more than once a day; others once a year or not at all. However, a person who lacks a desire for sexual activity for some period of time may be experiencing a hypoactive sexual desire disorder or may be asexual. A sexual desire disorder is more common in women than in men.

The American Medical Association has estimated that several million US women suffer from a female sexual arousal disorder , though arousal is not at all synonymous with desire, so this finding is of limited relevance to the discussion of libido. Also, women commonly lack sexual desire in the period immediately after giving birth. Moreover, any condition affecting the genital area can make women reject the idea of having intercourse.

It has been estimated that half of women experience different health problems in the area of the vagina and vulva , such as thinning, tightening, dryness or atrophy. Frustration may appear as a result of these issues and because many of them lead to painful sexual intercourse, many women prefer not having sex at all. Surgery or major health conditions such as arthritis , cancer , diabetes , high blood pressure , coronary artery disease or infertility may have the same effect in women.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Libido disambiguation. Login or Register. Save Word. Log In. Definition of sex drive. Learn More about sex drive. Dictionary Entries near sex drive sex cord sexdecillion sexdigitism sex drive sexed sex education sexennial See More Nearby Entries.

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Experts discuss the differences between male sex drive and female That doesn​'t mean men don't seek intimacy, love, and connection in a. Libido is a person's overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. Libido is influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors. Biologically, the sex.

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