We all have periods of time – long or short – where we’re just not in the mood for a romp between the sheets, but if you’ve noticed a big dip in your sex drive it’s important to understand where it’s coming from. Loss of libido can have a variety of physical and mental causes (or some combination of the two) but with so many health and relationship benefits to sex, it’s important to know if it’s just a lull or if you need to make some lifestyle changes or see a doctor. So, here’s a list of the most common causes of low libido in women and tips on how to jumpstart your desire.
Ironically, it seems that reducing your risk of unwanted pregnancy (and giving you the freedom to have sex whenever you want) can actually dampen your libido. Recent research has found that some hormonal birth control can lower the level of testosterone (one of the hormones that get you in the mood) in some women. Just like other medications, each type affects each woman differently, so talk to your doctor about which option is best for you (and your sex life).
Any changes in your hormones, especially estrogen, can pull the plug on your libido. During pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause your estrogen levels drop, which can result in low libido, vaginal dryness and a host of other symptoms that make sex difficult or even painful. Your doctor can prescribe certain hormonal medications and help you maintain your intimate health during these changes.
Antidepressants (such as SSRIs) have a well-documented negative effect on libido and arousal, but many other medications can also be a drag on your sex life. Antihistamines and other allergy medications are vasoconstrictors, meaning they limit blood flow all over your body (including genitals), which can lower desire and make it difficult or near impossible to orgasm. Be sure to discuss each of your medications with your doctor to see if switching to a different brand helps.
The importance of exercise to your health can’t be overstated – but having better sex more often can be great motivation to get moving. Exercise can increase energy, reduce stress, build stamina, and is a great way to lose weight – all of which can improve libido. A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that just 20 minutes of intensive exercise significantly improves the physiological sexual arousal of women. However, less rigorous exercise like yoga has also been found to have a significant effect on sexual response by increasing blood flow to the genitals. And let’s not forget about Kegel exercise – it not only increases blood flow to your lady parts, but can also help tighten your vagina and improve sensations for you and your partner.
“I’m too tired” might be one of the most common excuses both men and women use to avoid sex, but it might be more true than you think. Women who don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis have been found to have less testosterone in their blood stream than those getting a full night’s sleep, which can lead to a drop in their desire to get busy. So try to make sleeping (just sleeping) together an integral part of your intimacy, spend a little time cuddling and getting comfortable for an early night. You could always save sex for the morning, when you’ll be more refreshed and ready to go.
Being overweight can kill your libido in more ways than one. Excessive body fat affects not only the production of both estrogen and testosterone (which help you get in the mood) but also decreases the amount of other chemicals your body needs to use those hormones. Which means your body doesn’t have the right hormones and can’t absorb the hormones it does have, often resulting in a lower sex drive. If you’re worried that your weight is affecting your libido talk to your doctor about the best way to get back to a healthier weight, a balanced diet and committed fitness routine can do wonders for your libido as well.
It’s not just physical problems that can cause issues with sexual desire. Stress, anxiety and depression can make every part of your life worse and that can easily affect your view of sex and intimacy. You can talk to your doctor about stress relief methods or medications to help, but in the meantime, be open with your partner about how you’re feeling and work together to ensure that sex is an act of intimacy and relaxation for you both. If you think of sex as a fun break rather than just another task, you’ll most likely start to look forward to it.
Just remember that having a low sex drive doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. There are endless ways to encourage your desire and just as many ways to be intimate – even without sex.