Which Professionals Can Help Treat Low Libido?

Low sex drive is often a treatable condition—here's where to turn for help.

All areas of health, including sexual health, need attention to keep your body in balance. Libido—sex drive—issues are normal and common, and they deserve the same kind of attention as anything else that goes wrong with your body.

Often people wait a long time before seeking medical care for a sexual problem—either because they are embarrassed or because they are not taking it seriously—and that can compound the issue, especially when it stems from a physical problem that has a straightforward, physical solution.

However, there are professionals who can help you figure out why your sex drive has changed so the problem doesn't worsen and you can find a treatment that gets you feeling like yourself again.

Primary Care Physicians and Obstetrician-Gynecologists

Your first stop with any sexual health concern should be an OB-GYN or primary care physician (PCP), Irwin Goldstein, MD, urologist, and director of San Diego Sexual Medicine told Health. In addition to the basics, such as doing a pelvic exam, listening to your heart, and checking your blood pressure, your healthcare provider should be on the lookout for other conditions.

A primary care doctor should review your medications to see if you are taking a drug that could affect your sex drive. A review of your overall health and your health history should come next. Healthcare providers will also want to determine whether you have pain associated with other health conditions, even arthritis, as this can lower your desire for sex.

Other ways to rule out a physical reason for low sex drive include testing your blood for anemia, high cholesterol, and hormonal imbalances. Physicians will ask you lifestyle questions about sleep deprivation (which can have a profound effect on sex drive) as well as if you use alcohol or recreational drugs. An OB-GYN or PCP should also ask about your relationships and sex life.

Make sure you tell your healthcare provider about any sex-related pain, such as pain in the vulva or vagina that's caused or exacerbated by penetration. Physical pain can morph into psychological avoidance, Marjorie Green, MD, director of the Mount Auburn Female Sexual Medicine Center in Cambridge, Mass., and a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, told Health.

Sexual Medicine Physicians

It can also be helpful to see a sexual medicine physician if you are experiencing low libido. Sexual medicine is a field with a “human sexual function and dysfunction” focus, per the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA).

In sexual medicine, there is an emphasis on sexual health, which spans several different areas. Examples of some of those areas include anatomy and function knowledge, sexuality, reproductive health, fertility, and sexual violence, per a March 2020 American Family Physician article.

Thus, a sexual medicine physician will try to determine what might be causing libido issues in the context of sexual health. For example, what at first may appear to be low sex drive may turn out to be related to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or vaginal infection after the physician reviews the case.

Therapists

The authors of a 2021 study noted that individuals might encounter sexuality-related issues in areas such as:

  • Sexual dysfunction, identity, and orientation
  • Body image
  • Gender and gender expression
  • Intimacy concerns

Other personal or cultural factors (like a busy lifestyle, negative body issues, previous relationship troubles, or depression) can affect libido as well. While sex or relationship therapists focus on problems related to matters of sex specifically, other types of therapists can be helpful in discovering why related factors might be playing a role in a person's experience of low libido.

Individual Therapists

Seeing a therapist offers chances to explore emotions, thoughts, or actions that could be the source of your low sex drive. For example, a person may be under a lot of stress, which in turn could be causing them to be less interested in sex.

A therapist may be specialized in a particular area, like behavioral therapy, when conducting individual therapy. However, you might also work with someone who opts for an integrative approach. Per a Frontiers in Psychology article published in January 2016, using an integrative approach means that the therapist might use therapy techniques from various approaches to assist you in resolving any problems related to low libido or other circumstances.

Sex Therapists

A sex therapist aims to help a person with their sexual difficulties, including low libido. These types of therapists can educate you about sex-related issues relevant to your situation and provide you with at-home exercises that may be able to help you and your partner. Specific sex therapy treatment options can involve cognitive behavioral, emotion-based therapy, mindfulness, and couples therapy interventions, per the American Psychological Association (APA).

Couples Therapists

If having a low sex drive is causing issues in your relationship, couples therapy—according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM)—is designed to help couples deal with relationship conflicts or issues together instead of separately.

Per a chapter from Couple Therapy, published in January 2016, there are several different couples therapy approaches, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral couple therapy
  • Integrative behavioral couple therapy
  • Emotion-focused therapy
  • Systemic couple therapy
  • Gottman-method couple therapy

Emotion-focused therapy seems to be effective for dealing with sexual issues arising from relationships. "About 70 percent of distressed couples show a reduction in relationship distress following emotionally focused couple therapy. This type of therapy also leads to improved sexual satisfaction," per a 2018 Journal of Family Therapy study.

A Quick Review

If you're experiencing low libido, there are a few types of providers you could consult for help. The providers include primary care physicians, obstetrician-gynecologists, sexual medicine physicians, and therapists. Each of these providers focuses on different aspects of your health that might be responsible for low sex drive, which can help determine what treatments may be the most beneficial for you.

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