4 Causes of an Irregular Sex Drive

If you find that your fire is burning one minute only to find it extinguished the next, you may have an irregular sex drive. In order to remedy your libido woes, you need to know what's causing it.

When your libido's plummeted to the point where your sex life is anything but satisfying, taking a close look at what's going on in your life may be the first step toward revving it up again. A good place to start is your overall lifestyle.

"Libido is a good barometer of what is happening in your life," says Ian Kerner, Ph. D, FAACS, author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. "Stress can certainly contribute to a lower libido."

But that's not the only reason you may just not feel in the mood. Says Bat Sheva Marcus, Ph.D., LMSW, MPH, clinical director of the Medical Center for Female Sexuality, "You can be tired, distracted, or irritated by your partner."

Being "off" for a few weeks is probably no cause for concern, experts say. But if a month goes by and you still feel like your libido is not at the level you're used to having it at, investigate other causes, Marcus says.

Some common reasons for a low libido include:

1. Hormonal issues. "I'll often suspect something hormonal," Marcus says. "Sometimes it can be a combination of a hormonal imbalance and exhaustion." See your doctor to learn whether medications could help.

2. A troubled relationship. Take a good, long look at yours. "When someone feels great about their relationship, and their self esteem is at a healthy level, the libido tends to be up," Kerner says.

3. Depression can definitely affect libido, so if you think you're at risk, talk to a trusted friend and consider getting help.

4. Pain on intercourse. "The pain can make you not want to have sex," Marcus says. This can be a quick fix, though, with a cream or a lubricant. Check with your doctor to decide which is the best type of lubricant for you.

Very often, low libido turns out to be caused by a number of factors. "Low libido is usually an amalgam of a few different issues," Marcus says. "I'm a big believer in getting a good assessment of all the variables that go into desire and trying to address those that are pertinent."

Sometimes, a person's libido goes up, and this is usually a good thing. "It's good except sometimes when it happens very suddenly," Kerner says. "If a patient goes on a new antidepressant, it can function almost like an amphetamine and increase the libido."    If the medication is stopped, the libido may start to decrease once again.

The important thing is to not worry about mild fluctuations in libido. "Everyone has a period in their life when they're not interested in sex," Marcus says. With a supportive partner, a reduction in stress, and possibly some professional counseling, your libido will rebound and your sex life will be much more satisfying.