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5 Key Reasons Men Over 40 Lose Interest In Sex

Hint: It's not you!

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A photo of the statue of David with a "closed" sign over the crotch, indicating his low libido.
Gregory Reid/Gallery Stock
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About a thousand years ago, before the era of #MeToo, when we were all in college or in our early 20s, practically the whole country prescribed to the stereotype of the oversexed male. Young men were notorious for being “ready to roll” any time the opportunity would ... um … arise. It’s actually not a myth. Young men DO tend to have high sex drives during this period of life when mother nature expects them to procreate and they are typically healthy and energetic. The misogynistic aspect of this particular stereotype was that it excluded all the equally ready-to-roll young women of the same age. Now that we’re cruising into middle age, has anything changed? The reality is that while it’s normal for men to notice a gradual decrease in sex drive as they age, other factors are usually at play when there’s a noticeable drop in desire or function.

There’s probably nothing more upsetting than being turned down by your sexual partner, especially when you are getting older and have all those nagging insecurities whispering in your ear. “You’re getting fat.” “You’re looking old.” Or worse, “He doesn’t love you anymore.”

Relax. It has nothing to do with you! While problems in a relationship can certainly contribute to a lack of sexual interest from both partners, when it comes to middle-aged men, there are a host of reasons for a diminishing libido, none of which have anything to do with the person they are supposed to be having sex with.

Depression and stress
A man’s self-esteem can be very closely tied to his sex drive. If he’s not feeling good about himself, the last thing he may want is to share himself with you. Financial anxiety, job stress, family turmoil or chronic depression make it nearly impossible to transition into the emotional head space required for arousal. Many people can be helped with psychotherapy alone or in combination with an antidepressant. Ironically, some antidepressants have the side effect of lowering sex drive, so it’s important to discuss this risk with a doctor or therapist.

Health issues
Many common health issues effecting middle-aged men can contribute to erectile problems. High blood pressure and heart disease can actually limit blood flow to the penis. Nerve damage from untreated diabetes also can make maintaining an erection challenging or impossible. Men who are recovering from prostate surgery also experience limitations in blood flow and erectile function. Sleep apnea and obesity are both potential contributors to erectile dysfunction. And while it’s nothing to be ashamed of no matter the cause, many men would rather avoid sex than visit a doctor to discuss solutions to their erectile dysfunction. Instead, they may just try to avoid the situation entirely, leaving their partner feeling rejected.

The older we get, the more medications we tend to be on. Those medications almost always come with side effects, and with certain drugs, that can include lack of sex drive or problems maintaining an erection. This doesn’t mean men should stop taking their prescription medications. It means it’s time for a conversation with the doctor. Not every patient reacts the same way to every drug, and the doctor can’t know what side effects are causing a problem for your guy if he doesn’t tell her. If your man is on a medication that is important for his health and it’s causing problems in the bedroom, it’s a good idea for him to talk to his doctor about prescription alternatives or adding an erectile dysfunction medication.

Alcohol and drug use
While many of us might rely on a glass of wine or two to get us in the mood, too much can actually cause us to experience lower sexual desire, not to mention problems climaxing, climaxing prematurely or, in the case of men, problems maintaining an erection. The good news is that it’s mostly reversible. Studies seem to show that if you stop drinking too much, most of the sexual dysfunction caused by alcohol should resolve.

Too much pornography
You know that feeling when you’ve just had sex — you’re happy and relaxed, and even if you totally enjoyed what just happened, the last thing you want is to have sex again right away? It happens to men, too, but in their case, they literally cannot perform because they are temporarily unable to have an erection. It’s called a refractory period, and it’s the period of time in between having sex and having it again. For younger men, that might only be a few minutes. But for older guys, it can be longer. Sometimes 12 to 24 hours! You see where this is headed. If your guy has been taking advantage of unlimited data by streaming explicit content several times a day, he might be wasting his mojo on the internet and not saving enough for you.

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