Although many people with PD struggle with decreased libido (sexual desire), it is easy to forget that many people who don’t have PD also struggle in this area. In fact, everybody’s libido can be fragile if the circumstances are right.
A feeling of sexual desire is a crucial aspect of sexuality. This means that sexuality itself can be quite fragile. The reasons for this are too numerous to discuss in one blog entry. I therefore would like to tackle this important subject over the course of several entries by asking: What influences libido?
The best place to start is the simplest. As we age, our libidos begin to change. We can attribute part of the change to altered levels of hormones. Most of us are aware that hormonal changes are in play for women reaching the age of menopause. However, males find that testosterone levels also begin to fall at roughly the same time. As compared with women, male hormonal changes are more of a wind-down than a shutdown but levels fall throughout the second half of life.
Declining sex hormone levels do not necessarily translate into loss of libido but they certainly do translate into changed libido. In general, as they age, both men and women find that their libidos are no longer as pressing as they once were. Sexual desires are not necessarily absent; they just tend to be less frequent.
However, hormonal changes are not the sole contributor to altered libido. Most of us are at our peak physical condition in our twenties and thirties. Even men and women who exercise regularly and watch their health assiduously crest a biological hill. Ask anyone who can’t exercise off the excess Twinkies about this one. Biology is a ruthless master.
Young onset Parkinson’s disease presents a bit of a paradox. Individuals so diagnosed are young when compared with the majority of people with the disease. However, this period beginning in the late thirties or early forties is still known to the general public as “middle age.” Therefore, individuals with YOPD are likely to be experiencing predictable changes in libido based on the aging process alone.
Sexuality is an important human experience enjoyed by many people late into their lives. But it is important to remember that our sexual desires do change over time. We cannot realistically expect our libido to remain at a constant level in the face of the aging process. Although PD causes its share of problems, it is important to look at our libido as something that can vary as a result of a number of factors.