Why Your Sex Drive is Low, and What to Do About It

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There may not be a set “baseline libido” that you can compare yourself to, so it’s tricky to tell exactly what’s going on sometimes. Even so…when you know, you know. For some people, having an active libido is a fact of life – that’s just how their body works. For other people, they don’t usually feel marked sexual desire except during certain times of the month, or during certain situations. Not only these, but a thousand other scenarios can be totally normal. 

If you’ve noticed a decreased or inconsistent libido, there’s a chance that this is just your body adjusting as you age; however, there’s a much better chance that you’re suffering from hormonal imbalances. While this isn’t something you can diagnose just by reading up on your symptoms at home, you can figure out exactly what the deal is with a sex drive test – which, as it happens, you can also do at home with Base (more on that later).

Even though testing is the only reliable way to know if your hormone levels are causing a poor sex drive, it’s good to get some background before you start ordering tests. Which symptoms do most people experience as a result of low sex hormones?

Low self-esteem

That’s right – hormonal imbalances can cause low self-esteem. If these imbalances result in someone having a lower-than-normal libido, this can clash with their partner’s desire for sex. When someone knows that they aren’t giving their significant other the same level of intimacy as before, they can feel sexually inadequate – which leads directly to self-esteem problems. 

Mood swings

Hormonal mood swings are typically associated with estrogen, but low or imbalanced hormones are also linked to sudden changes in mood. This is especially common for people who have a lot of stress in their lives. If you’re stressed, your body will be producing unusual amounts of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone. When cortisol stays elevated for too long, this could interfere with your body’s production of other hormones – resulting in both low sex hormones and mood swings. 

Reduced sexual desire

Not really a groundbreaking observation, but you might be surprised at how often people explain away their low libido with circumstantial evidence. They’ve been upping their sugar intake recently, they haven’t been getting to bed as early as they should be, they’ve stopped walking the local nature trail in the last couple of months. There will always be something that could explain a lower sex drive in the short-term; the trick is to look at the overall pattern and ask whether this might actually be a long-term problem. 

Discomfort during intercourse (for women)

The female sex drive usually varies along with the menstrual cycle; it will typically peak at ovulation, but there can be other spikes and drops in libido, depending on the unique biology of each woman. This can make it harder to determine what a woman’s “normal” level of sex drive is, but one thing that’s easy to identify is her level of comfort during intercourse. If her sex hormones are low, it’s possible that she could experience pain or irritation as a result. There could be all kinds of reasons for this, but if the irritation is accompanied by a low sex drive, hormones are probably the culprit. 

Sexual dysfunction (for men)

Low testosterone is a well-known cause of both ED and a poor libido, but that may not be the whole picture. Other hormones, like estradiol (a form of estrogen), cortisol, and more can all influence sexual function for men. To make things even more complicated, it’s possible for men to have low testosterone without experiencing any mechanical issues – and vice versa. In other words, sexual dysfunction in men is usually caused by hormonal imbalance; it could just take some thorough testing to figure out which hormone levels need correcting. 

How can a sex drive test help fix a low libido?

Since most people with hormonal imbalances have more than just one or two hormones that are low, it’s probably best to take a comprehensive approach with testing. Don’t worry, you won’t have to survive dozens of needle pokes – most hormone testing is done with saliva samples. If you use Base’s at-home lab tests, you won’t even have to make a single doctor’s appointment; you can take the tests, track your results, and go over your personalized recommendations all from home. You’ll use the Base app to view your test results and fine-tune your strategies each month, whether that means adjusting supplements or switching up your diet. 

If you’re using Base’s sex drive panels, you won’t just discover your sex hormone levels; you could also find out about other key hormones and proteins that are involved in the complex process of maintaining a healthy libido. Besides estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, you could also end up learning about the following:

  • SHBG, which can bind to testosterone and result in symptoms of low testosterone, even if tests show that the levels are fine
  • DHEA, a sex hormone precursor that’s produced by the adrenal glands
  • HbA1c, a form of hemoglobin which can cause hormonal imbalances if it gets too high
  • Cortisol, another hormone produced by the adrenal glands; it’s good in certain amounts, but high cortisol is linked to sex hormone imbalances
  • Vitamin D, which is necessary to make sex hormones

If you’re already getting turned off by all the complicated names and descriptions, don’t worry – this is what the experts are for! Each test will give you new insights into specific hormone levels, as well as helping you figure out how all the pieces fit together. Since most hormonal imbalances are the result of years of slow changes, think of the testing process as a way to track your hormones, rather than just getting tested as a one-and-done solution. With the right mindset and a comprehensive approach, you can be on your way to hormonal health in no time at all!