Is It “Normal” for Libido to Vary Over Time?

Is It “Normal” for Libido to Vary Over Time?

Libido, often referred to as one’s sexual desire or drive, is a complex aspect of human sexuality that can fluctuate throughout life. Questions are often raised about what is considered “normal” regarding varying levels of sexual desire and how individuals can navigate these fluctuations. Understanding the variability of libido over time requires a nuanced exploration of the biological, psychological, and social factors that are at play.

Biological Factors

Biologically, fluctuations in libido can be influenced by hormonal changes, health conditions, medications, and aging. Hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone play important roles in regulating sexual desire. For instance, fluctuations in testosterone levels can affect libido in both men and women. Conditions such as hypothyroidism or diabetes can also impact sexual desire. Lastly, certain medications like antidepressants or birth control pills may have side effects that affect libido, possibly decreasing a person’s sex drive.

Psychological Factors

Psychologically, libido can be influenced by stress, mood disorders, body image issues, relationship dynamics, and past experiences. High levels of stress or anxiety can dampen sexual desire, as can depression or other mood disorders. Body image concerns or dissatisfaction with one’s physical appearance may also hamper libido. Relationship issues, such as conflict or communication problems, can impact sexual desire between partners. Furthermore, one’s libido may be lessened due to past traumatic experiences or negative attitudes towards sex.

Social Factors

Socially, cultural norms, societal expectations, and relationship dynamics can all impact libido. Cultural attitudes towards sex and sexuality can shape individual beliefs and behaviors related to sexual desire. For example, religious teachings and/or cultural norms may outline what is considered unacceptable or taboo in terms of sexual behavior, potentially impacting one’s libido as they strive to comply with these principles. Societal pressures or expectations regarding sex may also affect libido, as individuals may feel pressure to conform to certain standards. Finally, relationship dynamics, including communication, intimacy, and emotional connection, can influence sexual desire within a partnership.

Navigating Fluctuations

Understanding that fluctuations in libido are a normal part of human sexuality can help individuals navigate these changes more effectively. Communication is key, both with oneself and with partners. Being open and honest about one’s own desires, as well as being receptive to a partner’s needs, can foster a healthy sexual relationship. Seeking support from healthcare professionals, such as therapists or doctors, can also be beneficial, especially if libido changes are causing distress or impacting quality of life.


In conclusion, it is entirely normal for libido to vary over time due to a multitude of factors, including biological, psychological, and social influences. Recognizing and accepting these fluctuations can help individuals navigate their sexual experiences with greater understanding and compassion. By prioritizing communication, seeking support when needed, and maintaining a healthy relationship with oneself and with partners, individuals can embrace the natural variability of libido as part of the human experience.

For more information on this topic, please read this publication from The Journal of Sexual Medicine:

A qualitative analysis of female Reddit users’ experiences with low libido: how do women perceive their changes in sexual desire?


American Psychological Association. (2020). Sexuality. In APA Dictionary of Psychology.

Goldstein, I., Kim, N. N., Clayton, A. H., DeRogatis, L. R., Giraldi, A., Parish, S. J., Pfaus, J., Simon, J. A., Kingsberg, S. A., & Meston, C. (2017). Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH) Expert Consensus Panel Review. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 92(1), 114–128.

Træen, B., Štulhofer, A., & Janssen, E. (2017). The Diversity of Sexuality: A Study of Factors Associated with Sexual Satisfaction in Norway. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(3), 318–327.