When you’re a teenager with lots of overwhelming and confusing hormones racing through you, it’s hard to imagine a world in which you don’t want sex 24/7. But as you get older, one thing you come to terms with is that your sex drive isn’t fixed: it fluctuates, even day-to-day, and there are tons of things that cause low libido. There might be a time in your 20s when you could go months without orgasm and not bat an eyelash, or a time in your 50s when you’re so horny that you feel like you need sex every single day. There’s no “normal” when it comes to sex drive and it’s not healthy to compare yourself to others — all that matters is that you feel happy and fulfilled.
When you’re single, it may be harder to notice subtle shifts in your libido, but when you’re in a long-term relationship, those ups-and-downs can become a lot more perceptible and could have an effect on your relationship. Navigating a difference in libido with your partner can seem like an insurmountable problem: How do you compromise when you’re on opposite ends of the spectrum? Though difficult, having different sex drives can be resolved by communicating your wants and needs and having an open-minded, positive attitude.
Still, it’s worthwhile to be aware of factors that might be impacting your libido — everything from stress about your job to certain medical conditions can cause your sex drive to take a hit. Unfortunately, there are lots of other, less obvious things that can affect your desire to have sex. Here are some weird culprits that can cause low libido that you might not have been aware of.
1. Lingering Resentment
If you’re in a relationship with serious, unresolved issues, it could be affecting how much you want sex. “[People] begin resenting their partner when they feel used, taken advantage of, or disrespected,” says Mary Jo Rapini, a sex therapist. When there’s resentment lingering in a relationship, you might not feel as close to your partner as you have in the past, which can might manifest itself in the form of wanting sex (aka physical closeness) less often.
2. Financial Troubles
Stress can lower your libido, and unfortunately money is the number one cause of stress for most of us. If you’re feeling burdened financially, it might cause your sex life to be pushed to the backburner; nothing is less likely to get you in the mood than worrying about paying the bills. And if there’s a financial imbalance in your relationship, that can cause extra stress and resentment (for one or both of you).
3. Your Kids
Everyone — parent or not — knows that having kids changes your sex life. “Children will break the mood and keep you from having sex if they manage to get into your bedroom and into your bed,”April Masini, a relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. But even if they’re not physically with you, kids can still be a major libido inhibitor. Sex takes mental and physical energy, and naturally, children are major energy-suckers. Being a parent (especially a new parent) is difficult AF, and it’s important to schedule some kid-free date nights to give yourself and your partner stress-free time to relax and hopefully get your freak on.
4. Boring Sex
You’ve probably heard the comparison between sex and pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still good. However, having unfulfilling or boring sex might actually negatively impact your libido, even subconsciously. “If things are dull in the sack or you are fearful of not performing up to par then your libido may drop,” says Dr. Sharon Stills, a naturopathic medical doctor.
It’s only natural that if something isn’t fun or exciting, you might be less inclined to do it. Having consistently orgasm-less or one-note sex might lower your sex drive, so try changing things up in the bedroom if you’re feeling meh about your sex life.
5. Anxiety About Body Issues
Like Dr. Stills mentioned above, sexual performance anxiety can lead to a low sex drive, because you’re so worried about being “good enough” that you’d rather just avoid the situation altogether. But other kinds of anxiety can creep into the bedroom and make things difficult, too. “Anxiety about body issues… can lead to keeping your PJs on and the blankies tucked tight,” Dr. Stills says.
Everyone’s insecure at times, but if it’s affecting your desire to have sex, it might be time to talk to a professional and get help. It’s also good to be aware of how general anxiety and depression can impact your libido, and know it’s OK to ask for help if you need it to get back on track sexually.
6. Cortisol Deficiency
Contrary to popular belief, being too tired for sex is a very real, very valid excuse. “For both sexes, low Cortisol causing fatigue can just take you out of the mood and make sleep seem more orgasmic than the real thing,” Dr. Stills says. “Also, with low energy, the idea of pumping away can be overwhelming, like running a marathon you haven’t trained for.”
While having a low libido is nothing to be ashamed of, if you’re noticing changes in your desire to have sex and it’s impacting your relationship, it’s important to check in with yourself, communicate with your partner, and see your doctor to figure out what’s going on and find ways to treat it.