Society tells us that men are always ready for sex, perpetually randy and constantly thinking about it, while apparently women need to be emotionally in the mood for sex because their sexuality is not as ‘simple’ as a man’s. In reality however, low sexual drive in men is very common and male desire is just as complex as women’s.
These myths can cause problems in relationships, especially for the partner of a man with low sexual desire. Women can often take the rejection personally when grappling with mismatched libidos because of the societal beliefs that men want sex all the time.
In fact, the idea that men could suffer from low sexual desire has been so off the map athat researchers have usually focused on ejaculation problems or erectile dysfunction when studying male sexuality. Meanwhile, sexual desire was ignored completely. Only recently is this under researched area finally getting a look in.
Simply put, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is persistently deficient sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity that causes distress and interpersonal problems. In men, it is an under reported and stigmatised sexual dysfunction because it runs contrary to cultural myths about male sexuality.
One in five men has HSDD according to The American Psychiatric Association and other studies say between 13 and 30 percent of men report they have had a digressing lack of sexual desire lasting two months or longer in the past year. Just like female sexual desire, male respondents report social, relationship and psychological reasons for their lack of desire, such as depression, work, stress, tiredness and poor communication in their relationships. Drugs, alcohol and some medications can also hinder libido.
Sexual anxiety plays a huge part in waning desire too, with men being five times more likely to report low sexual desire if they had low confidence in their erections compared with men who didn’t worry about their erections at all.
So how do you solve a problem no one wants to talk about? Studies show pumping a man full of testosterone doesn’t translate into more desire when there are long-standing relationship issues. Men popping Viagra may get a whopping erection but it doesn’t improve sexual desire. These shortcomings in medical treatments highlight the importance of holistic therapy in overcoming HSDD.
Seeing a sex therapist or couples counsellor can help a man discover the reasons for his inhibited desire, explore relationship issues, learn the difference between intimacy and sex, and improve sexual communication skills. Sessions can be customised for individual clients and tackle exactly what is causing the low desire through treatments including sensation, fantasy and masturbation exercises.
Sessions also help expose and re-write irrational thoughts that block desire, such as fear of commitment and abandonment. Ultimately though, people sometimes just need a little help prioritising pleasure and intimacy over intercourse and orgasm.