Couple lying in bed while facing away from each other wondering how to boost libido and sex drive

How to Boost Libido and Increase Sex Drive

Medically reviewed by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT on November 26, 2023. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Libido, also called the sex drive, is defined as the level of sexual desire and sexual motivation a person has. [1]

Importantly, there’s no clinical metric or quantifiable way to measure male or female libido itself—every person has their own libido, and gauging its health is largely a matter of comparing your current libido to past libidinal patterns and evaluating whether changes in your libido are hindering your quality of life.

If you’re wondering how to increase male libido—or how to increase libido in general—the good news is a growing body of research points to several reasons, psychological and biological, why yours may be under pressure. Here, we’ll discuss possible root causes behind decreased libido and what you can do to help boost your sex drive and overall sexual health.

Defining Libido and Sex Drive

Libido, sexual responsiveness, and sexual behavior in general are governed by multiple systems of the body as well as extensive psychological and social factors. [1] Much of what controls a healthy libido isn’t yet well understood, but it’s thought libido is controlled by a complex of factors, including [1-2]:

  • Neurology, specifically special circuits in the brain that motivate sexual arousal
  • The central and peripheral nervous system
  • Hormones and the endocrine system
  • Social, cultural, and psychological factors
  • Genetics

Researchers believe the neural patterns that create male and female libido are largely the same. However, sexual response systems tend to function distinctly between biological sexes. [1]

A different ratio of hormones, different anatomy, and differences in male and female nervous systems are thought to be the major factors contributing to these sex differences. [1] For this reason, treating low male libido can require different interventions from those used to treat low female libido.

What Causes a Low Sex Drive?

A lowered libido is defined as a noticeable decline in a person’s sexual interest or desire.

Healthcare providers class low libido within a larger clinical category of sexual dysfunction, which can also include the physical loss of sexual function—not the same as a loss of libido. When the libido has lowered enough to the extent that it’s considered clinically significant, a healthcare provider may refer to it as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). HSDD can occur in both biological men and women. [3-4]

Many factors can lead to a lowered libido, and in many cases, a decline in sexual interest is non-pathological, even normal. For instance, people experiencing grief, major life transitions, or simply getting older may find they have a reduced desire to have sex or fantasize about it.

That said, a sudden decline or chronic absence of libido could point to an underlying health condition or hormonal imbalance. For instance, reduced libido could be tied to:

  • General hormonal imbalances – Hormones, members of the endocrine system, are chemical messengers of the body that play a critical role in sexual function. Some of the most important hormones involved in male sexual function include [1]:
    • Serotonin
    • Dopamine
    • Norepinephrine
    • Acetylcholine
    • Opioids
    • Testosterone
    Your endocrine system runs on a delicate feedback loop that fuels sexual function. If hormones become imbalanced, it could result in a decline in sexual interest or ED (erectile dysfunction).[1]
  • Testosterone deficiency – Testosterone is a major sex hormone that plays an important role in the sex drives of both men and women. In addition to fueling sexual desire, T is instrumental in many other physical processes like maintaining strong muscles, bone density, and storing fat. Low or unhealthy testosterone levels can result in low sexual desire (clinically referred to as male hypogonadism), as well as other health problems.
  • Estradiol levels – Estradiol is the main form of estrogen in women, but men also have it in smaller amounts. In men, testosterone is converted into estradiol by the hormone aromatase to promote healthy bones, cognitive function, and sexual function. When a man’s estradiol levels are imbalanced, it could result in low libido or ED (or both). [5-6]
  • Chronic stress – Prolonged periods of stress can cause high cortisol levels, a key stress hormone linked to the nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. [7] The presence of cortisol can depress the production of sex hormones, which may result in a lowered libido. [8]

Read more about high cortisol levels

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Health Conditions Related to Low Libido

Sometimes, a reduced libido can point to an underlying health condition, such as:

Depression – Depression is a psychological disorder that affects both mood and a person’s physiology. A lack of interest in sex is a common symptom or side effect of depression. [9] Moreover, people who take SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) may experience a lowered sex drive as a result of their medication. They can also experience ED or anorgasmia (difficulty reaching orgasm). [10]

Endocrine system disorders – In some cases, low libido may result from underlying health conditions impacting hormones. These could include thyroid diseases like hypothyroidism or disorders affecting your adrenal gland.

Addiction or drug abuse – Being a regular alcohol or drug user may have deleterious effects on libido, particularly in regard to testosterone production. For instance, having between 10 and 14 drinks per week has been shown to diminish testosterone production, elevate estrogen levels, and encourage your body to get rid of testosterone in your bloodstream faster. [11] By the same token, opioid use can interfere with the circuits in your brain responsible for making testosterone. In addition to impacting libido, this can also result in low T, lower sperm count, and lower-quality sperm. [11]

Living with a chronic health condition – Whether type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, receiving a diagnosis for and living with a long-term health condition can be challenging for your mind and your body. It’s common to experience depression or anxiety—or simply feel disinterested in intimacy—if you’re preoccupied with trying to engage with life on life’s terms when you’re sick.

How to Increase Libido in Men

It’s important to understand that sex drive can be an important marker of an individual’s health. As such, committing to making long-term lifestyle changes could help restore your sex drive and promote your overall well-being.

Knowing how to increase sex drive men could involve [12]:

  • Limiting your alcohol intake or use of recreational drugs
  • Developing better sleep hygiene (poor sleep has been linked to lower testosterone production)
  • Finding a therapist or support group to help with mental health issues like anxiety and depression
  • Incorporating mindfulness practices in your daily life to reduce stress
  • Exercising regularly and focusing on eating a balanced diet

Learn more about how to eat a balanced diet.

Sexual shame—including shame about natural fluctuations in libido—can also make it harder to feel sexually inspired. You might consider communicating openly with your partner(s) about your feelings to help reduce any sense of stigma you may be feeling.

Ultimately, if you’re experiencing low or unpredictable libido levels and don’t know why, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider to help identify possible causes. They can conduct a thorough medical evaluation accounting for your health history and screen for conditions that could be contributing to decreased libido.

Evaluate Your Hormonal Health with Everlywell

Finding the root causes of a lowered libido can take some work, but getting a sense of how your hormone levels stand can help bring some clarity to how to increase libido in men.

Everlywell lets you take a closer look at your hormonal well-being with the at-home Testosterone Test or Men’s horomone test, which check for key hormones that control for sex drive and sexual health. You’ll take your test at home, Everlywell runs your kit through CLIA-certified labs and delivers physician-reviewed results to help you make better sense of your health. Or, for more information, explore our men’s online health services to speak with a clinician.

Unhealthy Testosterone Levels in Men: Causes and Symptoms

Unhealthy Testosterone Levels In Women: Causes and Symptoms

What This Women’s Hormone Test Can Reveal About Your Health


  1. Calabrò RS, Cacciola A, Bruschetta D, et al. Neuroanatomy and function of human sexual behavior: A neglected or unknown issue?. Brain Behav. 2019;9(12):e01389. doi:10.1002/brb3.1389.
  2. News Center. “Stanford Medicine Scientists Locate Key Brain Circuit Containing the Seat of Male Libido.” News Center, 11 Aug. 2023,
  3. “Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.” Mestonlabcom, Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
  4. “Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).” American Sexual Health Association The American Sexual Health Association (a.k.a. ASHA) Believes That Everyone Has the Right to Information and Services That Will Help Them Be Sexually Healthy. We Aim to Provide Information and Resources That Are Reliable, Science-Based, and Stigma-Free., 11 June 2023,
  5. (professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Estrogen: Hormone, Function, Levels & Imbalances.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 26 Oct. 2023. , “Reproductive Hormones.” Endocrine Society, Endocrine Society, 24 Jan. 2022,
  6. professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Endocrine System: What Is It, Functions & Organs.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 26 Oct. 2023.
  7. “Understanding the Stress Response.” Harvard Health, 6 July 2020,
  8. professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Low Libido (Low Sex Drive): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
  9. Payne, Jennifer Lanier. “Low Sex Drive - Could It Be a Sign of Depression?” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 26 Oct. 2023,
  10. professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Depression & SEX: SSRI Side Effects, Depression & Ed.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
  11. Kaputk. “Can Drugs Lower Your Sperm Count?” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 23 Feb. 2023,
  12. Kim, Sung Dong, and Kyu Sup Cho. “Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Testosterone Deficiency.” The World Journal of Men’s Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2019,
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