Harvard Men's Health Watch

Low libido woes

Q. I'm 64, and I don't have any major health problems, but my sex drive just isn't what it used to be. Should I go to a doctor?

A. Decreased sex drive, or low libido, is a common concern in men over age 50. There are many possible reasons for lower libido, including medical problems such as hormone deficiencies, side effects of medications, and psychological issues, such as anxiety and depression. If you are experiencing decreased libido, don't reach for an herbal supplement or vitamin; talk with your doctor about the possible causes and solutions.

Your doctor's evaluation will begin with a detailed history, looking for signs of depression and situational stress that may interfere with a healthy sex drive. Medications—including SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, oxycodone and other opioid pain relievers, and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors such as finasteride—are common causes. So is excessive alcohol intake (in men, more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day).

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