Several years ago we received a desperate plea for help from a man who wanted to lower his libido:

“I desperately need your help. Neither my primary doctor nor my psychiatrist is interested, so I turn to you.

“What can I take to reduce my libido? I have a lovely wife who for the last seven years has not been interested. She is the only person in my life. Your input on this would help keep me from driving myself nuts as well as her. I’m currently taking lithium, sertraline, lorazepam and trazodone. After the ridicule both doctors put me through, I certainly hope you can help.”


It is not that unusual for partners to have vastly different libidos. We tend to think that men are always interested in sex and women frequently feel overwhelmed by constant pressure to perform in bed. That is not always the case. This website has become a place where women can share their frustrations too:


“I have a problem and I don’t know where to turn. My partner and I don’t have sex very often anymore. We have been together for over five years.

“I became depressed because of work, family and medical issues but worked through it with his help. He is a great man and I love him more than anything. The problem is that we only have sex three times a month if I’m lucky.

“He says it’s not me, but rather that he is under stress from work, family and friends. Is there anything a woman can do to slow down her sex drive? I love this man and will do anything for him, even give up sex if I must.


“Wow… this is so depressing. I have been with my husband for 6 years. He was my first. For the first year he couldn’t get enough of me to the point that I couldn’t keep up. Then we were long distance for a while. After that, I found that it was often me going to him and getting rejected. I actually have a diary entry where I was panicking because we hadn’t had sex for three days. ha ha ha! if only I’d known! Now it’s once a month if I’m lucky, and once over three months without anything at all. Sometimes he won’t even let me touch him.

“He is the most wonderful person and every other part of our relationship is heaven, except this. He is very loving and affectionate but the sex has disappeared. He was absolutely wild when I met him and the sex is incredible when it happens.

“It’s breaking my heart. I find myself trying to get male attention elsewhere, which I am ashamed about. I know I would never cheat on my husband, but I just like to be looked at as a woman now and then.

“I’ve reached the point where I am trying to accept that this will be my life. I am 28, we don’t have any kids, this should be when we’re going crazy on each other. The idea of being in a sexless marriage terrifies me, but I have no choice but to accept it, because I love my husband. I guess you can’t have it all…

“I have been taking chasteberry capsules for 1.5 months now. It has had some positive side effects like regulating my periods and making PMS less severe, and I am less sensitive sexually. It hasn’t really helped with the thoughts of sex.

“I wish I could go back to when I was ignorant and didn’t think about sex. The array of hobbies and projects I have going as distractors is incredible. If anyone has a solution please help.”


There is no simple solution to this very complicated problem. We always suggest counseling. Intimacy issues are frequently a red flag for deeper relationship difficulties. A sex therapist or marital counselor who specializes in sexual complications can be very helpful.

When we asked Dr. Ruth to offer some advice on this matter she cut right to the chase. Her suggestion: the less interested partner should care enough to help the other person achieve an orgasm, even without intercourse. Dr. Ruth recommended oral sex as one possibility.

If the relationship is not strong enough to support that kind of sexual gratification and counseling is not possible, there are dozens of drugs that can dampen desire. We do not think this is a viable option for most folks since all the drugs carry some risk of side effects. Progesterone, for example, lowers libido for both men and women, but side effects include depression, fluid retention, irritability, nausea, headache, blood clots and fatigue. The herb vitex (which has mild progesterone-like action) may help some, but as one of our visitors reported, it doesn’t work perfectly. Many antidepressants also lower libido, but possible adverse reactions are non trivial and stopping such drugs suddenly can be extremely difficult, leading to withdrawal.

It is incredibly difficult to talk about sex. Being honest about something so intimate with the person you love can be challenging. But ultimately communication is essential in a good marriage. Not discussing sex leads to a lot of heartache as you will discover if you search our website for comments.

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  1. Marc
    West Virginia

    First off, I too have a very high drive but my wife does not. Each time she states it is the best ever, but she doesn’t have the desire. (I ensure I meet her need first and foremost.)
    As for masturbation, with little exception, I feel it is not Godly. That’s right, I am a Christian and do not believe in affairs or masturbation, (Christians are not exempt from real life problems.)
    So, what do I do? I pray, read God’s word and trust He will help me stay strong. No simple fixes.

  2. KS

    I am 59 this year and my wife is 57 and we are both physically fit and well and despite the fact that we are deeply in love after 30 years together, due to her going through the menopause, our sex life is now zero apart from her occasionally masturbating me, which has no emotion or feelings attached – it’s simply a chore she feels she has to do every now and then.
    I have a normal to high sex drive and would love to be able to make love at least once a week, or maybe more, but she has no interest and although she has spoken to our doctor, he can offer no solution to her raising her libido or me reducing mine. And I must point out that this is not a “quicky”, I prefer to massage and caress her without her having to touch me at all for at least 30 minutes, before she reciprocates.
    It is depressing to think that her sex drive may never return, so approaching 60 we are resigned to a life with no physical intimacy and the more I dwell on it, the more depressed I am becoming.
    Reading all the help sites regarding this issue, apart from loading my diet with Soya product and keeping myself busy, it seems there is no solution and in fact it seems it is almost that, as the male, I am the one at fault as I should be more understanding and pull myself together… strangely this advice comes predominantly from female advisers, or am I just being cynical and full of self pity?

  3. CNC

    I am 38 year old widow. we had an amazing sexual life. we enjoyed sex daily 2or 3 times daily.sometimes it happened more than 5 times. Each time I experienced orgasam. So I can’t forget that moments. Now I have experienced the similar problem. I am always thinking about him.So I trouble with sexual arousal. I cannot control myself.It will happen several times in a day. So I consult a gynaecologist and ask her to remove my ovaries to reduce sexual desire. Instead she prescribed progesterone as a remedy. I have been taking it for the last three days. Now I have no such uncontrollable feelings .

  4. AR

    I am a 30 year old man. I have been with my GF for about 6 months now; she is 27. When we first started out our sex was amazing. I have never been with a woman better than her and she expresses the same feelings towards me.
    We would get intimate several times a day sometimes and now maybe 3 or 4 times a week and it is still AMAZING. She does not want it as much as I do. I could do it everyday if she would let me.
    She says she has other things to worry about and there are more important things than sex in life. Honestly the rest of our relationship is solid. We do so many things for each other and I guess I just don’t see the harm if it really isn’t interfering with the rest of our life.
    It is mostly always on my mind and we argue about it once a week. I love her. I want to be with her forever but this situation is killing us. I would rather lose my libido and not have sex than lose her please help..

  5. PA

    My husband has health issues that make most physical activity painful. He stopped looking for solutions, and now focuses on pain management. Unfortunately, this coincided with a period in my life where my sex drive -which was always high anyway – went thru the roof! Asking my ob/gyn for help was a mistake. She just looked at me like I had 3 heads.
    I understand many of you recommend communication, but the way we left it was he asked me to let him know if I started seeing someone else, but if I did, he hopes I stay with him anyway. That was 5 YEARS AGO. He occasionally mentions he has urges, but never acts on them. I told him then (that’s 5 years ago folks) that I would not ask again because the rejection was far too painful.
    So there’s no mystery here. It’s his health. But my happiness revolves around sexual satisfaction. I got married to avoid the dating, the searching, the safe sex, etc. I feel like I am in a lose/lose situation.

  6. KC

    My wife is no longer interested in sex at all. We go months at a time. The worst part is she still wants to rub each other. She will lay on my stomach and rub my inner thigh, but when I ask if she is up for anything she shuts down and gets mad. It has gotten to the point I now sleep on the couch as cuddling and rubbing used to be our foreplay but now never leads to anything but me beating my head against a wall. Anytime I ask her to go to the doctor or why she feels the way she does about sex it leads to a fight. I am at my wits end and am not sure what to do. I used to never look at other girls and be repulsed by other guys and the ‘locker room talk’ they used. Now I have to stop myself from looking at other women myself.

  7. FT

    I agree with d. Masturbation is not the same. In fact, I often find it depressing because it’s not the same as having a partner. That’s what makes it FUN.
    And yes, men often clam up when it comes to feelings..especially regarding the bedroom. It’s amazing there is no simple solution to decrease libido.

  8. Robert

    Funny when my wife first started taking progesterone it increased her libido as well as other pleasant side effects.
    History tells us 3 effective methods for men:
    1. Isaac Newton lowered his by keeping busy.
    2. Buddhist monks used to eat soy to lower theirs.
    3. Have children, twins work 4 times as well.
    4. Have a partner that is constantly putting you down, criticize every little thing you do, make fun of you (really effective in front of other people), who wants to have sex feeling like a fat, ugly looser?

  9. B

    this is for the 28 year old woman whose husband was very sexual at first but now the sex has dissappeared. She has been taking chasteberry capsules to try to lower her libido. I think before she resigns herself to a celibate life she should consider a few possibilities.
    #1. His testosterone level may be low. Get him to a physician. If it is low, that can be treated. If he refuses to go it may be that #2 or #3 or #4 is the problem.
    #2. He may be spending hours looking at porn and mastubating. This can be addictive.
    #3 He may be gay or at least bisexual.
    #4. He may be having an affair (with a male or female depending on his orientation)
    You may not want to know the answer to #2, @3, or #4 but at least try to get the answer to #1 and go from there

  10. d

    Well, if nothing else at least I know there are other people out there that feel as I do. I have been with my husband 30 years. I loved him enough to try to meet him half way when we were young since he was an everyday man. Now I have the libido he doesn’t have and it’s making my life unpleasant at times.
    He was very ill and is recovering and I understand he doesn’t feel that way often. (I don’t mean short term either, we are going on a few years now)
    But someone that thinks masturbating is the answer is just wrong. Many from my era were reared to be there for the husband. The thought of doing for ones self was simply not done. To be able to dampen the urge even a bit by taking something is much more conducive to my lifestyle. Why would I want him to feel less a man?
    Wouldn’t he think well she’s just making a pit stop before she runs off? And it wouldn’t solve the problem either. This is a real problem. I don’t need a counselor to make either of us feel worse.

  11. Greg Pharmacy Student

    Tagamet (cimetidine)would be worth a try. Cimetidine traditionally used to treat heartburn can be used to decrease libido.
    I’m sorry I can’t find the dosing right now, but I’ve heard that it is sometimes used in older gentlemen with dementia who have trouble controlling their sexual urges.
    Be aware the cimetidine interacts with many different medications (although this does not mean that cimetidine can not be taken with those medications.)

  12. mf

    Why not suggest masturbation? Dr. Ruth backs a product called an Eroscillator, which I personally recommend. Yes, this is mostly for the woman to use. Not only can you relieve your sexual tension instead of squelching it, but perhaps your sounds of passion will entice your partner to rekindle the sexual side of your relationship.
    It seems a shame to me to try and diminish your normal sex drive. Find the reason for your partner’s reluctance. It could be something as simple as an odor or texture that turns him/her off.
    Communication should work, but if it doesn’t, let him hear you scream!

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