A growing number of men are coping with sexual frustration by trying to lower their sex drive. You read that right: Some men know that lowering their libidos and suppressing their, ahem, horniness, might better their relationships and regulate impulsive emotions. Motivation varies, from avoiding the temptation to stray to accommodating asexual partners or those with lower sex drives, but the market for anaphrodisiacs — drugs that dampen libido and kill sex drive— is growing, and no longer limited to watching back-to-back Sex and the City movies.
A lowered libido occurs naturally in some cases. After the birth of a child, men experience a drop in testosterone that increases empathy, love, and caregiving capacity. Oftentimes these hormonal and behavioral changes come with side effects like a lowered sex drive. And for some, this natural reduction in libido, or male arousal, is a welcome relief and something they seek through other means like anaphrodisiacs, and it’s often welcomed by partners on the mend due to childbirth.
But anaphrodisiacs, in the modern sense, as well as techniques for lowering sex drive, are as old as sex itself. Soldiers long assumed (incorrectly) that their drill instructors were feeding them saltpeter at boot camp to reduce libido and keep them focused on the tasks at hand. In modern times, sex offenders have sometimes 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 that decrease sex drive never exactly became mainstream. But libido-lowering supplements sold online provide a range of holistic options for those who want to lower their sex drive. Not all anaphrodisiacs work, and even those that do have some success in lowering libido shouldn’t be taken without first consulting a doctor. But below is 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.
SSRIs Can Work as Anaphrodisiacs
Typically prescribed for mood disorders such as depression, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, such as Zoloft, are often passed up because of one 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 SSRIs don’t completely ensure lower sex drives (they work differently on everyone), these drugs also 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 that kill sex drive. 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 the hormones that control libido is a tall order. One oft-cited study showed that subjects who ate 71 grams of tofu every day for ten weeks had decreased testosterone levels. But before you add soy milk to the shopping cart, pause to consider that experts noted one reason subjects may have ended up with lower testosterone was because of associated weight gain, not the soy itself. So any desired softening of your erection may be accompanied by a softening of the midsection.
The Monk’s Salad, a Recipe to Lower Sex Drive
Known as chaste berry, 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. Low levels of prolactin have been linked to low sex drive in men.
Downside: There’s no real evidence this works to lower sex drive. 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. Also, sourcing this can be tricky, as it’s not exactly carried by your nearest Whole Foods.
Long, Intense Workouts May Stifle Sex Drives
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.
Lithium and Naltrexone Lower Libidos
It’s important to note that simple anaphrodisiacs are a more palliative fix, and won’t cure actual disorders like hypersexuality. For hypersexuality, 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.