If lack of energy has drained your sex life, there are ways to reignite the passion.
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Your sexual drive can stay high late in life, but often your energy for sex can diminish. Low energy not only affects your sex life, but can carry over to other parts of your life, too. You can become apathetic, no longer find pleasure in favorite activities, and become more sedentary.
However, many of these issues related to lost sexual energy can be addressed. "Never think lack of energy means an end to your sex life, and there is nothing you can do about it," says Dr. Sharon Bober, director of the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Sexual Health Program. "There are many strategies you can adopt to get back in the game."
Find your energy drainers
Your lost sexual vim and vigor is often related to some kind of physical, emotional, or relationship issue. Here's a look at the most common causes.
Low hormones. Lack of sexual energy could be due to male hypogonadism, which occurs when the testicles do not produce enough testosterone, the male sex hormone. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common side effects.
Testosterone levels drop about 1% each year beginning in a man's late 30s, and could fall by as much as 50% by age 70. (A blood test from your doctor can determine if you have low testosterone.) Testosterone replacement therapy, which is given via absorbable pellet implants, topical gels, patches, and injections, can often help spark sexual energy in men with low levels.
Findings from a study published online Aug. 1, 2016, by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that a year of testosterone therapy improved libido in 275 men (average age 72) with confirmed low testosterone. Compared with men in a placebo group, frequency of sexual arousal increased by about 50%, and they were able to have almost twice as many erections.
Speak with your doctor about whether testosterone therapy is an option for you. Long- term risks are not well known, but there is concern for an increased risk of heart disease and prostate problems.
Erectile dysfunction. Men with erectile dysfunction can experience low energy because the condition can be a blow to their self-esteem. "Men may feel embarrassed about it or worry they will be judged in some way if they cannot perform as well as they once did, so motivation and energy for sex gets depleted," says Dr. Bober.
In this case, speak with your doctor about taking an ED drug or exploring other options for getting or keeping an erection, like using a penile pump.
Even though talking about ED may be difficult, it's important to open up lines of communication with your partner. "For many men, it can help relieve stress to know they are not alone and someone is there for support."
Poor sleep. Lack of sleep can be one of the main energy zappers. Poor sleep can increase stress levels and interfere with how your body and brain store and use energy, which is why you feel so sluggish after not sleeping well. And if you are tired, you have less energy for sex. Talk with your doctor if you have trouble sleeping. Steps like changing medication or dose, cognitive behavioral therapy, and adjusting your diet and sleeping environment can often improve sleep quality.
Lack of movement. When you have no sexual energy, you need to get moving. Regular exercise is one of the best natural energy boosters. Numerous studies have linked exercise with improving fatigue, especially among sedentary people. You don't need much to get a jolt — 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise can do the trick. Focus on a combination of cardio and weight-bearing exercises like brisk walking and strength training.
Get checked out
Many medical conditions can affect sexual drive, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. So be diligent about regular medical check-ups. Also, many drugs, including blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, and tranquilizers can produce erectile difficulties. Consult with your doctor if you take any of these.
Back in sync
Lack of energy also could be relationship-oriented, if you and your partner are not in sexual sync. For instance, you may have energy for sex, but your partner doesn't, or at least not at the same level.
"Sex may not always be comfortable for women because of menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness. If sexual activity is physically uncomfortable, not surprisingly, a woman's sex drive also diminishes," says Dr. Bober. "This can affect both partners, and if a man is worried that he might hurt his partner, that will certainly affect his interest in sex, too."
In this situation, you need to communicate with your partner about how important sex is to you. It's not about making demands, but about finding ways to explore mutual goals, such as pleasure and closeness.
"Perhaps it means negotiating a compromise just like you do in other aspects of a relationship," says Dr. Bober. "Partners find ways to share everything from household chores to bill planning, and sex shouldn't be any different."
There's a lot of room to find common ground, she adds. "There are many ways to be sexually active with your partner besides traditional intercourse. For example, you can ask your partner to be with you when you pleasure yourself, which feels intimate and can allow both partners to feel connected."
Talk about it
Sometimes the sexual barrier is not about sex at all. An open dialogue also can reveal issues beneath the surface that may interfere with your partner's sexual energy.
"Your partner may desire sex as much as you, but there may be underlying problems in the relationship that could affect sexual desire and need to be addressed," says Dr. Bober.
Finally, another way to ignite lost sexual energy is to do new things together. "Couples can get into routines that can make for boring sex lives," says Dr. Bober. "It can be fun to speak with your partner about ways to keep the relationship interesting and erotic."
Many times, this can be done outside the bedroom, like having more date nights, going for long weekend romantic getaways, or even doing simple activities together like joining a club or taking a class.
"Investing in change can energize both you and your partner, and most important, pave the way for a renewed sense of closeness and novelty that is great for all couples," says Dr. Bober.