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Save your libido

The Doctors | 8/22/2013, 8 p.m.

USA WEEKEND Health

Sometimes you just aren't in the mood, but if "not tonight,honey" often turns into not tomorrow either, you could be experiencing low sex drive.

Libido naturally fluctuates over time, with highs and lows tending to coincide with major life events: pregnancy, for example, sets off a slew of hormonal changes that can stall sex drive; menopause has the same effect. Relationship problems can affect
libido; stress and depression often contribute to a decreased desire in men. Here are four other -- perhaps less common --potential culprits:

Prescription meds. Some antidepressants are notorious sex-drive killers; certain antiseizure drugs and therapies for prostate cancer may also reduce desire. Recent research also suggests libido problems that have been linked to taking finasteride, a medication used to treat male pattern baldness and enlarged prostate, that could continue even after men stop taking the drug. Talk to your doctor if you're having sexual side effects; a switch in drugs or dosages may help.

Alcohol. Sure, one cocktail or glass of wine might get you in a loving mood, but one too many probably will diminish it.

High cholesterol. Preliminary research showed women with high cholesterol report more difficulty with arousal and orgasm, as well as significantly lower satisfaction. Other medical conditions also can dampen the desire for sex, including arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and cancer.

Birth control pills. It's ironic, but a recent scientific review found that for some women, taking oral contraceptives can decrease libido. That's because the estrogen and progestin in the pill can cause testosterone levels to drop; testosterone is the libido hormone found in both men and women. Hormone-based birth control also can increase the production of a particular protein that binds to testosterone, rendering it ineffective at stimulating sex drive. Not all women experience libido problems on the pill; if you suspect trouble, talk to your doctor about trying a different formulation.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.