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The desire to have sex is called libido, or sex drive. Like thirst and hunger, it’s a basic human craving in both men and women. The primary generator of libido in both sexes is testosterone. Men make about 10 times as much testosterone as women, but the sex drive that results can be equally powerful (though a woman’s sex drive is also powerfully affected by her monthly cycles of female hormones).

But the desire for sex is much more complicated than just hormone levels. Human sexual desire can be influenced by many things, including emotions, feelings of trust and intimacy, familiarity, stress, pregnancy, child rearing, and many other factors.

The fact that no two people are likely to have exactly the same level of sexual desire is a frequent cause of tension in relationships. Not only that, but sexual desire itself fluctuates with time and the influence of other factors in any given individual. It’s important, therefore, to learn ways to communicate effectively with your partner so that you can avoid misunderstandings or hurt feelings. It can be very easy to interpret a partner’s lack of desire for sex as a personal affront or rejection when, in fact, it may have nothing to do with the partner and everything to do with one’s physical and mental state at a given time.

If one or both partners in a relationship is feeling a lack of sexual desire for an extended period of time, it may be helpful to seek outside help. A physical exam should be your first move because sometimes lack of desire is the result of either normal hormonal changes (i.e. menopause) or some kind of disease state or other health problem. If everything seems OK physically, then it might be helpful to consider talking with a therapist or other mental health professional because sometimes low desire is a sign of unresolved issues in a relationship.

Even if your (or our partner’s) libido seems to have ebbed away, remember that it’s likely to return when circumstances change for the better, either physically or emotionally.

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