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Sex Drive

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Updated June 27, 2014

Definition:

The term sex drive was first widely adopted following the introduction of the concept by Sigmund Freud in his writings about sexuality and personality development. Freud used the term sex drive as well as the more specific term libido to refer to what he initially conceived as the human biological sexual instincts. In this context, sex drive or libido was a source of human motivation and action throughout the developmental process. Later, Freud expanded his definition of libido to refer to a life energy that drove both the sexual instincts but also other human drives.

Today, the term sex drive isn’t used much by researchers or sexologists (they favor libido). But, in popular culture it has become synonymous with sexual desire or an individual's interest in engaging in sex with a partner. If someone doesn’t want to have as much sex as you do, you might say their sex drive is low.

That said, there is no measurement of sex drive and no definition of what a healthy sex drive is like. While research into sex drive usually focuses on a single aspect, most researchers would agree that there are biological, psychological, and social components to sex drive. Biological research has focused on testosterone, which is thought to be related to the sex drive, although the exact nature of the relationship is still under investigation. Social science researchers have also explored the relationship between both sex drive and social factors, like work and family, as well as internal psychological factors, like personality and stress.

Also Known As: sexual instinct, libido
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