6 reasons why you might have a high sex drive, or increased libido
- A high sex drive may be due to changes in hormone levels, your age, or an increase in exercise.
- Increased libido can also be a result of lower stress levels or stopping certain medications.
While a high libido is often considered healthy, sometimes you might wonder why your sex drive seems higher than normal or has suddenly increased.
Here are six reasons why your sex drive may feel unusually high:
1. Your hormone levels are changing
The sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels can vary during your lifetime — but also within the course of a day — affecting your sex drive along with them.
For women, estrogen levels rise before and during ovulation, causing an increase in sex drive. Meanwhile, high testosterone levels in men have been linked to higher libido. High levels of testosterone are common in younger men and athletes using steroids.
A 2016 report found that being on estrogen therapies, like for menopause or bone loss, may be the reason for a higher sex drive in women. Additionally, if you're taking testosterone with low-dose estrogen therapy for postmenopausal purposes it may also heighten your sex drive.
2. You're going through puberty or aging
Those who are younger may have a higher sex drive than older adults. For example, testosterone production increases 10 times in adolescent boys, which explains the increase in arousal or interest in sex at that period in development.
However, middle-aged women may have a higher sex drive than younger women. A 2010 study of adult women found that people between 27 and 45 were more likely to think about sexual activities, have frequent sexual fantasies, a more active sex life, and more intense sexual fantasies than those aged 18 to 26.
3. You're exercising more
One reason your sex drive may be higher than usual is an increase in physical activity or weight loss. A small 2018 study revealed a positive relationship between physical fitness and a higher sex drive. In fact, the researchers found that in women, arousal was heavily influenced by cardiovascular endurance.
"Physical activity may make us feel more connected to our bodies and could increase self-image," says Kamil Lewis, a sex and relationship therapist in Southern California. "When we feel good about ourselves, we're likely to want to engage in partnered sex more frequently."
4. You're in a healthy sexual relationship
Some people may experience a boost in libido if they find themselves in a sexual relationship that's more enjoyable than their past ones.
"If [sex is] a good and pleasurable experience, then it's going to make you want to do more of it. If it's a bad experience or it's not pleasurable, then a lot of times people will develop an aversion to sex," says Tamika K. Cross, MD, FACOG, an OBG-YN at Serenity Women's Health & Med Spa in Pearland, Texas. "You're going to want more of something that feels good, and that's pleasurable to you."
5. You're less stressed
Your sex drive might be higher than usual because you're experiencing less stress. Higher stress levels release more cortisol — your fight or flight hormone — which can negatively impact your sex drive, says Cross.
In a small 2008 study, 30 women had their sex drives and cortisol levels measured before and after watching an erotic film. It found that women who had a decrease in cortisol had higher sex drives.
If you've recently noticed a dip in your stress levels, that may also explain an increase in sex drive. "Although sex is very physical, it's very mental and psychological as well," says Cross.
6. You've changed your medication
If you noticed a sudden change in libido it may be because you recently stopped using medication or decreased your dose. Antidepressants, in particular, can negatively impact your sex drive, says Cross. In a 2016 report, 40% of people experiencing sexual dysfunction could attribute it to anti-depressant use.
Other medications that may hinder your sex drive include:
- Anti-hypertensive medications, which are used to treat high blood pressure
- Anti-mania medications like lithium
- Hormones like Lupron or Zoladex
Therefore, if you recently stopped one of these medications, it might explain your higher than normal sex drive. Some people may prefer to discontinue or change a medication because it is impacting their sex life so significantly.
Important: Talk to your doctor if you think this may be an issue for you or your partner, as there are many safe alternatives to medications that impact libido.
Can my sex drive be too high?
Just as there is no right amount of sex to be having, no "normal" sex drive exists.
"There is a lot of shaming language around those with higher sex drives," says Lewis. People use terms like 'sex addict' and 'nymphomaniac' too often, she says, to describe others who have a natural, healthy sex drive.
Finding partners who have a similar sex drive can be a positive way to explore your sexuality, but if your partner and you have fundamentally different sex drives, that doesn't mean you're incompatible.
However, "if your high sex drive is getting in the way of commitments such as work, family, or relationships, you might want to see a sex-positive sex therapist to find support on how to manage your sex drive without shame," says Lewis.
Cross says if you and your partner are not on the same page, as far as sex drive, it can put a stress on the relationship. Receiving help from a sex therapist early on can help you and a partner find a balance that works for both of you.
Reasons your sex drive might be higher include your age, hormone levels, and amount of physical activity.
While there is no "normal" sex drive, if yours begins to interfere with your life, work, or relationships, consider reaching out to a sex therapist or consulting with your doctor.
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