What Hormones Are Responsible for Libido?
Numerous factors can influence the libido. Depression, anxiety, issues with body image or a past history of sexual abuse extinguish the desire for sex. Physical issues such as illness, fatigue and the use of certain medications can also reduce libido. Maintaining appropriate levels of certain hormones is important for keeping the sex drive alive in both men and women 1.
The hormone testosterone plays a role in maintaining a healthy sex drive 3. Testosterone is most commonly associated with male characteristics, but it is present in the female body too, according to MedlinePlus 3. The hormone is produced by the Leydig cells of the testes in males and by the ovaries in women. The adrenal glands of both sexes also produce DHEA, a precursor to testosterone 3.
Testosterone is a masculinizing hormone 3. Increased levels of testosterone cause the voice to deepen and increase the development of muscle mass and strength 3. Testosterone boosts the libido in both men and women 3. Womenshealth.gov states that lowered levels of testosterone can decrease a man’s ability to achieve erection in addition to diminishing his interest in sex 3. Injury, illness and the use of certain drugs can lower testosterone levels 3.
Why Do Women Need Estrogen?
The female hormone estrogen is produced in the ovaries as well as in certain fat cells. Estrogen prompts the growth and development of female sex organs, pubic hair and breasts. A deficiency in estrogen can cause a decrease in female sex drive, according to the MayoClinic.com 1. Both estrogen and testosterone hormone levels decline during menopause 3. Decreased estrogen results in vaginal dryness, which may also put a damper on the desire for sex.
Not all women experience waning libido as a result of menopause. Many report satisfying sex lives well into their later years. Unfortunately, the hormonal changes associated with this transitioning phase of life do impact some women in ways that put the brakes on sexual intimacy.
- The female hormone estrogen is produced in the ovaries as well as in certain fat cells.
- A deficiency in estrogen can cause a decrease in female sex drive, according to the MayoClinic.com 1.
Progesterone is produced in the ovaries for a period of about 11 days following ovulation each month. Breastcancer.org notes that progesterone is one of the hormones that influence a woman’s sex drive 2. Treatment for breast cancer can alter the levels of progesterone, estrogen and testosterone in a woman’s body 3. Decreased levels of these hormones diminish a woman’s ability to get sexually aroused or to achieve orgasm.
Why Do Women Need Estrogen?
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- MayoClinic.com: Low Sex Drive in Women
- BreastCancer.org: Loss of Libido
- MedlinePlus: Testosterone
- University of Rochester Medical Center. Total testosterone. 2019.
- MedlinePlus. Testosterone injection. Updated March 15, 2019.
- MedlinePlus. Testosterone levels test. Reviewed June 27, 2018.
- Long N, Nguyen L, Stevermer J. PURLS: It's time to reconsider early-morning testosterone tests. J Fam Pract. 2015;64(7):418-9.
- Kaiser Permanente. Testosterone results. Updated November 6, 2018.
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Testosterone use and male fertility. 2015.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Testosterone - what it does and doesn't do. Updated August 29, 2019.
- Franks S, Hardy K. Androgen action in the ovary. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2018;9:452. doi:10.3389/fendo.2018.00452
- Test ID: TGRP; Testosterone, Total and Free, Serum. MayoClinic Medical Laboratories.
- Testosterone: Drug information. Lexicomp, Inc. UptoDate.com.
- Camacho EM, Huhtaniemi IT, O'Neill TW, et al. Age-associated changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular function in middle-aged and older men are modified by weight change and lifestyle factors: longitudinal results from the European Male Ageing Study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2013;168(3):445-55. doi:10.1530/EJE-12-0890
- Kolettis PN, Purcell ML, Parker W, Poston T, Nangia AK. Medical testosterone: an iatrogenic cause of male infertility and a growing problem. Urology. May;85(5):1068-72. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2014.12.052
- Samplaski MK, Loai Y, Wong K, Lo KC, Grober ED, Jarvi KA. Testosterone use in the male infertility population: prescribing patterns and effects on semen and hormonal parameters. Fertil Steril. 2014;101(1):64-9. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.09.003
- Spritzer MD, Daviau ED, Coneeny MK, Engelman SM, Prince WT, Rodriguez-Wisdom KN. Effects of testosterone on spatial learning and memory in adult male rats. Horm Behav. 2011;59(4):484-96. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.01.009
- van Honk J, Schutter DJ, Bos PA, Kruijt AW, Lentjes EG, Baron-Cohen S. Testosterone administration impairs cognitive empathy in women depending on second-to-fourth digit ratio. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108(8):3448-52. doi:10.1073/pnas.1011891108
For 15 years, Charis Grey's award-winning work has appeared in film, television, newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. She has worked as a story editor on the CBS drama "Flashpoint" and her work appears bimonthly in "The Driver Magazine." She has a Bachelor of Science in biology and a doctorate in chiropractic medicine from Palmer College.