Everything You Need To Know About The Male Sex Drive

Are you as passionate about sex as you were before? For men, the answer may vary as they age.

The two components of male sexual health are sexual desire or libido and the capacity of getting and sustaining an erection, also known as erectile function. Both physiology and psychology can affect the male sex drive. Additionally, there are many social and interpersonal factors at play that can influence a man’s sexual health.[1]

How does sex drive originate?

In men, the sex drive is referred to as libido. While it cannot be measured in absolute terms because there is no way to grade it numerically, it is easy to evaluate libido with reference to the desire for sex.[2] Having a high libido indicates an increased interest in sex, while a low libido can decrease this interest. Any kind of sexual response occurs due to many parts of the brain working simultaneously, and the process might show itself differently in men and women.

The male sex drive can be traced back to two main parts of the brain. The limbic system and the cerebral cortex help to regulate the male libido. They can directly influence a man’s sex drive and, consequently, his performance. They are powerful, to the extent that it is possible for a man to achieve an orgasmic state just by dreaming or deliberating about sex.[3]

The limbic system is made up of different parts, like the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. All these parts are responsible for controlling your emotions as well as your sex drive and sex drive. A study found that a positive association exists between sexual drive and amygdala volume in the human body. The research team at Emory University discovered that there was increased activity in the amygdalae of men after viewing sexually arousing images as compared to women.

On the other hand, the cerebral cortex refers to the grey matter that is stored in the outer layer of the brain. Grey matter orchestrates many higher functions like thinking in the body. This means that when a man thinks about sex, he is stimulating the cerebral cortex, which can lead to arousal.

The cerebral cortex gives rise to signals that are directed towards the rest of the brain and the appropriate nerves. These nerves increase the blood flow to the genitals and lead to a rise in the heart rate. The body, on receiving these signals, triggers an erection. 

What role does testosterone play?

The primary hormone that can regulate the male sex drive is testosterone. A study of a group of men conducted in Massachusetts led to the conclusion that there is a positive correlation between low testosterone levels and low libido. Around 11% of the men reported that they had a lack of sex drive.[4] When the researchers tested their testosterone levels, it was found that about 28% of the men who had low testosterone levels also had a low libido.[5]

Testosterone is usually produced in the testicles, and they are responsible for many important functions in the male body. These include:

  • Maturity and development of male sex organs
  • Growth of body hair
  • Deepening of the voice at the time of puberty
  • Sperm production
  • Increased bone and muscle mass
  • Generation of red blood cells

When a man has low levels of testosterone, it is likely that they might suffer from low libido as well. The levels of testosterone in the body tend to be higher in the morning as compared to the night. The male body produces maximum testosterone during the late teen period. After that, the levels begin to decline slowly over time.

Debunking popular myths about male sexuality

There are many stereotypes and myths surrounding the male sex drive.

Men think about sex all the time

A study at Ohio State University revealed that the popular myth of men thinking about sex is actually false. Young men reported having thought about sex about 19 times a day in the study while the women thought about it 10 times a day. However, men also reported thinking more often about food and sleep which could mean that they are simply more comfortable about reporting their thoughts.[6]

It usually takes 2 to 7 minutes for men orgasm

Two noted sex researchers, Masters and Johnson, came up with the Four-Phase Model to explain the sexual response cycle: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Each phase has a specific duration but it differs from person to person. It is not possible to make generalizations on the basis of gender.

Men are not as romantic as women

The word romance can have different connotations.[7] But scientifically speaking, romance can also be categorized as an impulse that arises from sexual excitement Masters and Johnson’s Four-Phase Model shows that sexual desire does not express itself in the same way for everyone.

Sources of arousal, the duration of arousal, and the ability to reach orgasm different from person to person. Social norms and taboos also play an undeniable in shaping how men and women perceive and accept sexuality. Hence, it is not possible to have an objective conclusion as to whether men are naturally not inclined towards romance.[8]

When can there be a loss in libido?

Age is one of the primary causes of a loss in sex drive. However, the loss of libido can also occur due to other physical or psychological conditions. If you are suffering from low libido, you should take the following factors into consideration.

  • Endocrine problems: Any kind of endocrine disorder can lead to a reduction in male sex hormones.
  • Low testosterone: As mentioned, testosterone can strongly impact your libido. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that medical conditions like sleep apnea can lead to low testosterone levels that can impact the sex drive. Regular-weight men suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) reported lower testosterone levels that led to disinterest in sexual activity.
  • Depression: Mental health problems can often obstruct the sex drive and negatively affect the sex drive.[9] If you are suffering from depression or just feeling stressed, you might notice a reduction in your sex drive. Mental health issues are serious, and you should talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Medicines: There are certain medicines that can affect your libido negatively. Side effects caused by antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications can reduce your body’s ability to produce erections. A medical professional will be able to suggest an alternative.
  • Diabetes and high blood pressure: A healthy vascular system is essential for a healthy libido. Diabetes and high blood pressure take a heavy toll on the circulatory system as well which can prevent your body from functioning normally. They can reduce a man’s sex drive and make it difficult to maintain an erection.


Since it is impossible to measure sex drive objectively, it is important that you understand what is normal for you. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the first step towards an active sex drive.[10]

Sexual health is an important subject that needs to be talked about. A reduction in sex drive is a serious matter, and you should always consult a doctor.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22552705

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29704917

[3] Tenover JL. Testosterone and the aging male. J Androl. 1997;18:103–106. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26382159

[5] Davidson JM, Camargo CA, Smith ER. Effects of androgen on sexual behavior in hypogonadal men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1979;48:935–941. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26944463

[7] Johnson AR, Jarow JP. Is routine endocrine testing of impotent men necessary? J Urol. 1992;47:1542–1543. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29845444

[9] Schubert M, Jockenhovel F. Late-onset hypogonadism in the aging male (LOH): definition, diagnostic and clinical aspects. J Endocrinol Invest. 2005;28:23–27. [PubMed]

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649360/