Lockdown was a very good time to get close with your partner and spend some quality time together, but that’s not the case with everyone. Let’s be real, 2020 has been a stressful year. The uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, and the fact that no one really knows when this might end, has resulted in widespread panic and stress.

Between caring for your family members, home sheltering, social-distancing, work from home and trying not to catch COVID-19 to top it off, sex might be the last thing on your mind.

Loss of libido (sex drive) is a common problem that can affect men and women of any age. It is normal for many people to lose their sex drive after a certain age especially women. Usually it happens when you attain Peri-menopausal age which is 42 onwards. Usually women feel mood swings, vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse during the peri-menopausal phase that is before menopause and after the age of 45 and above which is the ideal age of menopause, levels of the female hormone oestrogen begins to fall, which can affect the libido and result in a lack of interest in sex.

“Loss of libido or low sex drive is actually a woman’s problem, but today men are no further behind. When cortisol is raised for long periods of time, say, during a worldwide pandemic, it impacts everything from digestion, to immune function, to body fat storage, and the ability of your brain to process and react to sexual cues. Stress and no physical activity are one of the reasons for a loss of libido”  Dr. Anubha Singh, Gynaecologist and IVF Specialist from Shantah IVF Centre tells IANSlife.

Intimacy is not possible when people are around

Intimacy is often a natural result of two separate individuals who desire “a closeness, merging or fusion of themselves, but for those who share their home with partners, family members or kids; it is bit not possible for them to have intimacy at this time. Like Shefali Arora, (name changed) a teacher said: “Now a days in and out, you’re aware of everyone’s presence in the home and with so few boundaries to delineate us while we eat, sleep, work and navigate the same space all day long, the idea of getting intimate with your partner may no longer be of interest. Also, physical work is more due to non availability of house maids.”

Stress is another reason for lack of libido

The pandemic and related concerns about health, income, work, children and the uncertainty of it all can leave us feeling overtaxed and under-resourced. “You can’t be stressed and have great sex. You need to feel at ease, and safe. There are a lot of obvious reasons why people can’t relax right now” said Dr. Shobha Gupta, Medical Director and IVF Expert from Mother’s Lap IVF Centre.

It is obvious that everyone is tense and stressed due to the ongoing pandemic; “when that happens, our body releases the stress hormone, cortisol that can cause us to feel withdrawn, and it might be hard to relax or desire intimacy. Our body will pull resources from anything that’s not essential to our basic life functions. So,even people who typically have a high sex drive may experience a decrease in desire” explained Dr. Gupta.

Women experiences more loss of libido than men

Women on the other hand suffer the most times the low sex drive. There are N number of reasons for loss of libido among females. “During pregnancy and lactation, it is not only the hormonal changes that can cause lack of libido. It is goaded by tiredness, low self esteem due to weight gain and compounded by psychological factors too. Many a times after pregnancy women feels PPD i.e post partum depression due to tiredness and usually resolves itself in a few months”

“Due to low sex drive women may suffer secondary infertility too after first pregnancy” informs Dr. Anubha Singh.

What are the other causes of loss of libido?

1.     Physical issues: Physical issues such as low testosterone as they are responsible for building muscles and bone mass and stimulating sperm production. Decreasing testosterone is a normal part of aging. However, a drastic drop in testosterone can lead to decreased libido

2.     Medications: Certain medications can sometimes reduce libido in men: like medication for high blood pressure medications may prevent ejaculation and erections or any other allergy to certain drugs medication for hyperprolactinaemia, a rare disorder in which the gland at the base of the brain is producing too many hormones; anti-androgenic drugs such as cimetidine, finasteride and cyproterone, which block the effects or reduce the production of testosterone.

3.     Psychological issues which include depression, stress, and problems in your relationship. It’s a serious illness where you may have feelings of extreme sadness that can last for a long time. These feelings are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, including your sex life

4.     Illness: There are many other aspects as well which includes hormonal change in the body, diabetes, injury in the back after delivery, chronic illness like cancer, can reduce your sperm production counts since your body focuses on getting through the day.

These factors are responsible for the loss of libido in women and men. Diminishing levels of sex hormones or age-related health problems are a cause.

Treatment:

“Unfortunately there is no simple pill that women or men can just have to forget about their problems and get back to their normal sex life. The treatment therefore depends on identifying the problem and treating that first. If the patient suffers any medical disorder such as diabetes or blood pressure it should be treated first. If the cause is medication, it would need to be changed,” said Dr. Shweta Goswami, Gynaecologist and IVF Specialist from Cloudnine and Jaypee Hospital, Noida.

There are other reasons as well like endometriosis which causes painful intercourse and leads to low sex drive. This condition can be diagnosed and treated by laparoscopy or GnRH analogue therapy. In such as case dietary modifications and an exercise regime would help but only after consulting your doctor,” added Dr. Shweta Goswami.

You can also take steps to boost your libido on your own. The following have the potential to increase your libido:

  •      Live a healthier lifestyle
  •      Get enough sleep
  •      Practice stress management
  •      Reduce alcohol intake
  •      Go for Testosterone replacement therapy (ask your doctor first)
  •      Counseling