The drop in testosterone men experience upon the birth of a child has its purposes – namely, that it increases empathy, love, and caregiving capacity. Its less convenient side effects include a lowered sex drive. But for some, this natural reduction in libido is a welcome relief. A growing number of men are coping with sexual frustration by trying to lower their high sex drives and libido. That’s right: Some sexually frustrated men are learning how to dampen their libidos and lower their sex drive to better their relationships. From avoiding the temptation to stray, to accommodating asexual partners, the market for anaphrodisiacs — drugs that lower libido — is growing.
Anaphrodisiacs and other techniques for lowering sex drive are as old as sex itself. Soldiers long assumed (incorrectly) that their generals were feeding them saltpeter to reduce their libido and to keep them in line with tasks at hand. In modern times, sex offenders have been prescribed anti-androgens to lower their sex drive in the hopes that it will reduce their risk of offending again (although side-effects such as growing breasts tend to limit compliance).
Understandably, the market for voluntary anaphrodisiacs never exactly exploded. But supplements sold online provide dozens of holistic options for men who want to lower their sex drive. They don’t all work, and even those that do have some success in lowering libido shouldn’t be taken without first consulting a doctor. Here’s a look at some of the more common anaphrodisiacs on the market, how effective they are at lowering sex drive, and the side-effects that may give you pause.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Can Work as Anaphrodisiacs
Typically prescribed for mood disorders such as depression, SSRIs such as Zoloft have an unfortunate side-effect — patients say it totally tanks the libido. Other patients, however, are thrilled by the sudden, total lack of interest in sex, and even request the drug specifically to keep their sex drives in check.
Downsides: Besides the fact that not everyone who takes SSRIs actually experiences less sexual interest, these drugs tend to have nasty side-effects, one of which is an inability to climax. This means some users end up keeping their sex drives, but losing their ability to do anything about it.
Eat Soy to Lower Your Libido
Soy protein is full of compounds known as isoflavones, which some studies suggest have estrogen-like effects. Soy could act as an anaphrodisiac, but it’s not that straightforward.
Downsides: Eating more soy is a pretty backward way to lower sex drive. Being vegan is great for the planet, but a soy-heavy diet is not any healthier for your heart (as was once thought) — and eating enough soy to have an impact on hormones is trying. One oft-cited study that shows soy lowering testosterone required subjects to eat 71 grams of tofu every day for ten weeks. Worse yet, experts note that one reason the subjects might have ended up with lower testosterone was because of associated weight gain, not the soy itself. So any desired dampening of the sex drive will be offset by other negative effects.
Long, Intense Workouts May Stifle Sex Drive
A recent study of 1,077 men suggests that men who engage in prolonged, intense exercise experience lower libidos.
Downsides: There are two potential problems with using long, hardcore workouts to lower a sex drive. First, it’s a recipe for injury. Short, intense workouts (like a 20-minute HIIT workout) are all the rage thanks to the benefits they offer with minimal wear and tear on the body. Keep that intensity up, however, and you can strain joints and increase the possibility of an injury, as form tends to fall apart the longer you’re at it. Also, low-to-moderate exercise has the opposite effect. In other words, taking too many water breaks could make you buffer and hornier than ever before.
The Monk’s Salad, a Recipe to Lower Sex Drive
Known as chasteberry, or monk’s pepper, after the celibate monks rumored to have chewed on its leaves, Vitex Agnus-Castus has been shown to decrease levels of the hormone prolactin.
Downside: There’s no real evidence this works. While studies suggest this may help mitigate the symptoms of PMS, nothing more than anecdotal evidence suggests that it may decrease a man’s sex drive too. Also, there are side-effects, including dizziness, diarrhea, and hair loss. They might kill your sex drive, but for all the wrong reasons.
Lithium and Naltrexone for High Sex Drives
When the need to take an anaphrodisiac is rooted in hypersexuality, an actual disorder, doctors may prescribe medication to treat what is often an underlying health problem. Lithium, for instance, has been shown to help people manage hypersexuality associated with manic episodes. And Naltrexone, typically given to treat alcoholism, can also treat a related sexual addiction.
Downsides: Whether pills work or not, psychotherapy (or couples therapy) is often an even better option for men looking to tamp down their libidos.