Imagine a psychologist prescribes a drug to a patient, but wants to let them know about the drug's side effects; I was wondering if someone could let me kno which one of the following verbs can be used in my self-made sentences:

  • This medicine ........ sexual desire.

a) decreases

b) reduces

They have lots of overlaps. But I need to know which one is more preferred in this specific self-made example of mine.

  • 1
    Both are acceptable, and as far as I can see, equally good. I cannot think of any reason to favour one more than the other. – Mick Oct 29 '16 at 10:26

In your context both "reduce" and "decrease" can be used

This medicine reduces sexual desire.
This medicine decreases sexual desire.

and would have the same meaning of diminished sexual desire.

A key difference between "reduce" and "decrease" is how something becomes less.

One might say

Ever decreasing steps

to mean each step is smaller than the previous step or fewer steps are used over time, but

Ever reducing steps

would be awkward.


I would use reduces, because it is an active verb rather than a passive one.

You could say that sexual desire decreased after the medicine was used, but decrease denotes a condition change rather than an action.

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