Libido (//), colloquially known as sex drive, is a person's overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. Sex drive is influenced by biological, psychological and social factors. Biologically, the sex hormones and associated neurotransmitters that act upon the nucleus accumbens (primarily testosterone and dopamine, respectively) regulate libido in men and women. Social factors, such as work and family, and internal psychological factors, like personality and stress, can affect libido. Sex drive can also be affected by medical conditions, medications, lifestyle and relationship issues, and age (e.g., puberty). A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly increased sex drive may be experiencing hypersexuality.
A person may have a desire for sex, but not have the opportunity to act on that desire, or may on personal, moral or religious reasons refrain from acting on the urge. Psychologically, a person's urge can be repressed or sublimated. On the other hand, a person can engage in sexual activity without an actual desire for it. Multiple factors affect human sex drive, including stress, illness, pregnancy, and others.
Sexual desires are often an important factor in the formation and maintenance of intimate relationships in both men and women. A lack or loss of sexual desire can adversely affect relationships. Changes in the sexual desires of either partner in a sexual relationship, if sustained and unresolved, may cause problems in the relationship. The infidelity of a partner may be an indication that a partner's changing sexual desires can no longer be satisfied within the current relationship. Problems can arise from disparity of sexual desires between partners, or poor communication between partners of sexual needs and preferences.
A person is sex starved or sexually frustrated when they have a strong sexual appetite but is sexually frustrated because of a lack of outlet or companion to release their sexual tension.
- 1 Psychological perspectives
- 2 Factors that affect libido
- 3 Sexual desire disorders
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
|Part of a series of articles on|
Sigmund Freud defined libido as "the energy, regarded as a quantitative magnitude ... of those instincts which have to do with all that may be comprised under the word 'love'." It is the instinct energy or force, contained in what Freud called the id, the strictly unconscious structure of the psyche.
Freud developed the idea of a series of developmental phases in which the libido fixates on different erogenous zones—first in the oral stage (exemplified by an infant's pleasure in nursing), then in the anal stage (exemplified by a toddler's pleasure in controlling his or her bowels), then in the phallic stage, through a latency stage in which the libido is dormant, to its reemergence at puberty in the genital stage. (Karl Abraham would later add subdivisions in both oral and anal stages).
Freud pointed out that these libidinal drives can conflict with the conventions of civilised behavior, represented in the psyche by the superego. It is this need to conform to society and control the libido that leads to tension and disturbance in the individual, prompting the use of ego defenses to dissipate the psychic energy of these unmet and mostly unconscious needs into other forms. Excessive use of ego defenses results in neurosis. A primary goal of psychoanalysis is to bring the drives of the id into consciousness, allowing them to be met directly and thus reducing the patient's reliance on ego defenses.
Freud viewed libido as passing through a series of developmental stages within the individual. Failure to adequately adapt to the demands of these different stages could result in libidinal energy becoming 'dammed up' or fixated in these stages, producing certain pathological character traits in adulthood. Thus the psychopathologized individual for Freud was an immature individual, and the goal of psychoanalysis was to bring these fixations to conscious awareness so that the libido energy would be freed up and available for conscious use in some sort of constructive sublimation.
According to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, the libido is identified as psychic energy. Duality (opposition) creates the energy (or libido) of the psyche, which Jung asserts expresses itself only through symbols: "It is the energy that manifests itself in the life process and is perceived subjectively as striving and desire." (Ellenberger, 697)
Factors that affect libido
Libido is governed primarily by activity in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway (ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens). Consequently, dopamine and related trace amines (primarily phenethylamine) that modulate dopamine neurotransmission play a critical role in regulating libido.
Other neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and sex hormones that affect sex drive by modulating activity in or acting upon this pathway include:
- Testosterone (directly correlated) - and other androgens
- Estrogen (directly correlated) - and related female sex hormones
- Progesterone (inversely correlated)
- Oxytocin (directly correlated)
- Serotonin (inversely correlated)
Sex hormone levels and the menstrual cycle
A woman's desire for sex is correlated to her menstrual cycle, with many women experiencing a heightened sexual desire in the several days immediately before ovulation, which is her peak fertility period, which normally occurs two days before until two days after the ovulation. This cycle has been associated with changes in a woman's testosterone levels during the menstrual cycle. According to Gabrielle Lichterman, testosterone levels have a direct impact on a woman's interest in sex. According to her, testosterone levels rise gradually from about the 24th day of a woman's menstrual cycle until ovulation on about the 14th day of the next cycle, and during this period the woman's desire for sex increases consistently. The 13th day is generally the day with the highest testosterone levels. In the week following ovulation, the testosterone level is the lowest and as a result women will experience less interest in sex.[better source needed]
Also, during the week following ovulation, progesterone levels increase, resulting in a woman experiencing difficulty achieving orgasm. Although the last days of the menstrual cycle are marked by a constant testosterone level, women's libido may boost as a result of the thickening of the uterine lining which stimulates nerve endings and makes a woman feel aroused. Also, during these days, estrogen levels also decline, resulting in a decrease of natural lubrication.
Although some specialists disagree with this theory, menopause is still considered by the majority a factor that can cause decreased sex desire in women. The levels of estrogen decrease at menopause and this usually causes a lower interest in sex and vaginal dryness which makes intercourse painful. However, the levels of testosterone increase at menopause and this may be why some women may experience a contrary effect of an increased libido.
Certain psychological or social factors can reduce the desire for sex. These factors can include lack of privacy or intimacy, stress or fatigue, distraction or depression. Environmental stress, such as prolonged exposure to elevated sound levels or bright light, can also affect libido. Other causes include experience of sexual abuse, assault, trauma, or neglect, body image issues and anxiety about engaging in sexual activity.
Physical factors that can affect libido include endocrine issues such as hypothyroidism, the effect of certain prescription medications (for example flutamide), and the attractiveness and biological fitness of one's partner, among various other lifestyle factors.
In males, the frequency of ejaculations affects the levels of serum testosterone, a hormone which promotes libido. A study of 28 males aged 21–45 found that all but one of them had a peak (145.7% of baseline [117.8%-197.3%]) in serum testosterone on the 7th day of abstinence from ejaculation.
Smoking, alcohol abuse, and the use of certain drugs can also lead to a decreased libido. Moreover, specialists suggest that several lifestyle changes such as exercising, quitting smoking, lower consumption of alcohol or using prescription drugs may help increase one's sexual desire.
Aphrodisiacs, such as dopaminergic psychostimulants, are a class of drugs which can increase libido. On the other hand, a reduced libido is also often iatrogenic and can be caused by many medications, such as hormonal contraception, SSRIs and other antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioids and beta blockers.
Testosterone is one of the hormones controlling libido in human beings. Emerging research is showing that hormonal contraception methods like Oral contraceptive pills (which rely on estrogen and progesterone together) are causing low libido in females by elevating levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds to sex hormones, including testosterone, rendering them unavailable. Research is showing that even after ending a hormonal contraceptive method, SHBG levels remain elevated and no reliable data exists to predict when this phenomenon will diminish.
Impact of age
Males reach the peak of their sex drive in their teens, while females reach it in their thirties. The surge in testosterone hits the male at puberty resulting in a sudden and extreme sex drive which reaches its peak at age 15-16, then drops slowly over his lifetime. In contrast, a female's libido increases slowly during adolescence and peaks in her mid-thirties. Actual testosterone and estrogen level affect a person's sex drive vary considerably.
Sexual desire disorders
There is no widely accepted measure of what is a healthy level for sex desire. Some people want to have sex every day, or more than once a day; others once a year or not at all. However, a person who lacks a desire for sexual activity for some period of time may be experiencing a hypoactive sexual desire disorder or may be asexual. A sexual desire disorder is more common in women than in men. Erectile dysfunction can only occur in men and may be because of the lack of sexual desire, however, these two should not be confused. For example, large recreational doses of amphetamine or methamphetamine can simultaneously cause erectile dysfunction and significantly increase libido. However, men can also experience a decrease in their libido as they age.
The American Medical Association has estimated that several million US women suffer from a female sexual arousal disorder, though arousal is not at all synonymous with desire, so this finding is of limited relevance to the discussion of libido. Some specialists claim that women may experience low libido due to some hormonal abnormalities such as lack of luteinising hormone or androgenic hormones, although these theories are still controversial. Also, women commonly lack sexual desire in the period immediately after giving birth. Moreover, any condition affecting the genital area can make women reject the idea of having intercourse. It has been estimated that half of women experience different health problems in the area of the vagina and vulva, such as thinning, tightening, dryness or atrophy. Frustration may appear as a result of these issues and because many of them lead to painful sexual intercourse, many women prefer not having sex at all. Surgery or major health conditions such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease or infertility may have the same effect in women. Surgery that affects the hormonal levels in women include oophrectomies.
|Look up libido in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Fisher HE, Aron A, Brown LL (December 2006). "Romantic love: a mammalian brain system for mate choice". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 361 (1476): 2173–86. doi:10.1098/rstb.2006.1938. PMC 1764845. PMID 17118931.
The sex drive evolved to motivate individuals to seek a range of mating partners; attraction evolved to motivate individuals to prefer and pursue specific partners; and attachment evolved to motivate individuals to remain together long enough to complete species-specific parenting duties. These three behavioural repertoires appear to be based on brain systems that are largely distinct yet interrelated, and they interact in specific ways to orchestrate reproduction, using both hormones and monoamines. ... Animal studies indicate that elevated activity of dopaminergic pathways can stimulate a cascade of reactions, including the release of testosterone and oestrogen (Wenkstern et al. 1993; Kawashima &Takagi 1994; Ferrari & Giuliana 1995; Hull et al. 1995, 1997, 2002; Szezypka et al. 1998; Wersinger & Rissman 2000). Likewise, increasing levels of testosterone and oestrogen promote dopamine release ...This positive relationship between elevated activity of central dopamine, elevated sex steroids and elevated sexual arousal and sexual performance (Herbert 1996; Fiorino et al. 1997; Liu et al. 1998; Pfaff 2005) also occurs in humans (Walker et al. 1993; Clayton et al. 2000; Heaton 2000). ... This parental attachment system has been associated with the activity of the neuropeptides, oxytocin (OT) in the nucleus accumbens and arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the ventral pallidum ... The activities of central oxytocin and vasopressin have been associated with both partner preference and attachment behaviours, while dopaminergic pathways have been associated more specifically with partner preference.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Top 10 reasons for low libido". Retrieved 28 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Low sex drive in women". Retrieved July 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- S. Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 1959
- Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (PFL 2) p. 131
- Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946)p. 101
- Reber, Arthur S.; Reber, Emily S. (2001). Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Penguin Reference. ISBN 0-14-051451-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- P. Gay, Freud (1989) p. 397
- Eric Berne, A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalyis (1976) p. 69 and 101
- Miller GM (January 2011). "The emerging role of trace amine-associated receptor 1 in the functional regulation of monoamine transporters and dopaminergic activity". J. Neurochem. 116 (2): 164–176. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.07109.x. PMC 3005101. PMID 21073468.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Lichterman, Gabrielle. 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods, and Potential. ISBN 978-1-59337-345-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Harding SM, Velotta JP (May 2011). "Comparing the relative amount of testosterone required to restore sexual arousal, motivation, and performance in male rats". Horm Behav. 59 (5): 666–73. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.09.009. PMID 20920505.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Davis SR, Moreau M, Kroll R, Bouchard C, Panay N, Gass M, Braunstein GD, Hirschberg AL, Rodenberg C, Pack S, Koch H, Moufarege A, Studd J (November 2008). "Testosterone for low libido in postmenopausal women not taking estrogen". N. Engl. J. Med. 359 (19): 2005–17. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0707302. PMID 18987368.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Renneboog B (2012). "[Andropause and testosterone deficiency: how to treat in 2012?]". Revue Médicale de Bruxelles. 33 (4): 443–9. PMID 23091954.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- DeLamater, J.D.; Sill, M. (2005). "Sexual Desire in Later Life". The Journal of Sex Research. 42 (2): 138–149. doi:10.1080/00224490509552267.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Heiman JR, Rupp H, Janssen E, Newhouse SK, Brauer M, Laan E (May 2011). "Sexual desire, sexual arousal and hormonal differences in premenopausal US and Dutch women with and without low sexual desire". Horm Behav. 59 (5): 772–779. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.03.013. PMID 21514299.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Warnock JK, Swanson SG, Borel RW, Zipfel LM, Brennan JJ (2005). "Combined esterified estrogens and methyltestosterone versus esterified estrogens alone in the treatment of loss of sexual interest in surgically menopausal women". Menopause. 12 (4): 359–60. doi:10.1097/01.GME.0000153933.50860.FD. PMID 16037752.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Ziegler, T. E. (2007). Female sexual motivation during non-fertile periods: a primate phenomenon. Hormones and Behavior, 51(1), 1-2
- Simerly, Richard B. (2002-03-27). "Wired for reproduction: organization and development of sexually dimorphic circuits in the mammalian forebrain" (pdf). Annual Rev. Neurosci. 25: 507–536. doi:10.1146/annurev.neuro.25.112701.142745. PMID 12052919. Retrieved 2007-03-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- McGregor IS, Callaghan PD, Hunt GE (May 2008). "From ultrasocial to antisocial: a role for oxytocin in the acute reinforcing effects and long-term adverse consequences of drug use?". Br. J. Pharmacol. 154 (2): 358–368. doi:10.1038/bjp.2008.132. PMC 2442436. PMID 18475254.
Recent evidence suggests that popular party drugs such as MDMA and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) may preferentially activate brain oxytocin systems to produce their characteristic prosocial and prosexual effects. Oxytocin interacts with the mesolimbic dopamine system to facilitate sexual and social behaviour, and this oxytocin-dopamine interaction may also influence the acquisition and expression of drug-seeking behaviour.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Clayton AH (July 2010). "The pathophysiology of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women". Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 110 (1): 7–11. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2010.02.014. PMID 20434725.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Hu XH, Bull SA, Hunkeler EM, et al. (July 2004). "Incidence and duration of side effects and those rated as bothersome with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment for depression: patient report versus physician estimate". The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 65 (7): 959–65. doi:10.4088/JCP.v65n0712. PMID 15291685.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Landén M, Högberg P, Thase ME (January 2005). "Incidence of sexual side effects in refractory depression during treatment with citalopram or paroxetine". The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 66 (1): 100–6. doi:10.4088/JCP.v66n0114. PMID 15669895.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Int J Impot Res. 2000 Oct;12 Suppl 4:S26-33.
- Susan B. Bullivant, Sarah A. Sellergren, Kathleen Stern; et al. (February 2004). "Women's sexual experience during the menstrual cycle: identification of the sexual phase by noninvasive measurement of luteinizing hormone". Journal of Sex Research. 41 (1): 82–93 (in online article, see pp.14–15, 18–22). doi:10.1080/00224490409552216. PMID 15216427.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Women Can Now Predict When They Will Have The Best Sex". Retrieved July 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Yalom, I.D., Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books, 1989. ISBN 0-06-097334-X.
- Psychology Today – The orgasm Wars
- Jiang, M.; Xin, J.; Zou, Q.; Shen, J. W. (2003). "A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men". Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. 4 (2): 236–240. doi:10.1631/jzus.2003.0236. PMID 12659241.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Lack of sex drive in men (lack of libido)". Retrieved July 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Warnock, J. K.; Clayton, A.; Croft, H.; Segraves, R.; Biggs, F. C. (2006). "Comparison of Androgens in Women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: Those on Combined Oral Contraceptives (COCs) vs. Those not on COCs". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 3 (5): 878–882. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00294.x. PMID 16942531.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
- Panzer, C.; Wise, S.; Fantini, G.; Kang, D.; Munarriz, R.; Guay, A.; Goldstein, I. (2006). "Impact of Oral Contraceptives on Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin and Androgen Levels: A Retrospective Study in Women with Sexual Dysfunction". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 3 (1): 104–113. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2005.00198.x. PMID 16409223.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
- Reconceiving the second sex Marcia Claire Inhorn - 2009
- Principles and practice of adult health nursing Patricia Gauntlett Beare
- Sex, time, and power retrieved 6 February 2012
- "Lack of sex drive in men (lack of libido)". Retrieved July 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Gunne LM (2013). "Effects of Amphetamines in Humans". Drug Addiction II: Amphetamine, Psychotogen, and Marihuana Dependence. Berlin, Germany; Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. pp. 247–260. ISBN 9783642667091. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Ellenberger, Henri (1970). The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. New York: Basic Books. Hardcover ISBN 0-465-01672-3, softcover ISBN 0-465-01672-3.
- Froböse, Gabriele; Froböse, Rolf and Gross, Michael Gross (trans). Lust and Love: Is it more than Chemistry? Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry, ISBN 0-85404-867-7, (200
- Giles, James, The Nature of Sexual Desire, Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2008.