It's not so funny to realize that your "Netflix and chill" night has actually devolved into eating Seven Eleven nachos and watching Anchorman in bed with your significant other. Ditto if your SO is a vibrator. When it comes to a diminishing libido, whether you are single, dating, or partnered up, you aren't alone. About a third of us have experienced low sex drive at one point or another over our adult lives. For those in long-term relationships, various studies have identified the "honeymoon period," that hormone-drunk stage when having sex seems more crucial than sleep and food, as averaging about 2.5 years. There is no reason to feel ashamed about it or avoid seeking a fix. Depending on your health and lifestyle, the most common reasons can be addressed fairly easily.
Let's say that every time you danced, you stubbed your toe. After a few times, you probably wouldn't want to go out dancing any more. It's not so different when sex hurts. At least 20 percent of American women experience some discomfort during intercourse and over time, this can become a serious turn off. The primary culprit is dryness and—hurray!—this is really, really simple to address.
The Fix: Your first line of defense is commercial lubricant. It's incredible that so many women haven't tried a miracle product that you can buy at any drugstore for less than ten dollars. You should also lube up your sex toys. There are zillions of types of lube, from organic to fruit flavored. For maximum versatility, start with a clear, flavorless, water-based lube. Make sure it's latex compatible if you use a condom.
Also, do not skimp on foreplay. Most women need at least 30 minutes of cuddling, kissing, oral sex, and other types of foreplay to be warmed up enough for intercourse.
A number of prescription drugs can cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women, so if you have started a new medication and notice a change in your sex life, connect the dots and speak with your doctor. A number of antidepressants have this unfortunate side effect as well as Opioid-based painkillers and drugs used to treat hypertension. What's less widely known is that some over the counter decongestants and antihistamines can also cause problems.
The Fix: Ask your physician about alternate medications or lowering your dosage. Be patient, it can take time to tweak your medication so you get the full benefit without the side effects. Note that the antidepressant Wellbutrin can actually increase libido and is sometimes prescribed off label to help women improve their sex drive.
Pain or medication can have serious affects on your sex drive
Illness and Disease
Heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension are all common in the United States and can all take a whack at your desire for sex. For women, untreated thyroid issues might be at the root of the problem.
The Fix: Get your thyroid checked. The right medication can put you back in the mood right away. To manage chronic disease, patients need to work with their doctor on managing diet, exercise, stress, and other health and lifestyle issues.
Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco
It's a myth that alcohol and drugs are good for sex. While one glass of wine might help you relax, more than that can douse your desire. Worse, over time, heavy use of alcohol and illegal drugs can cause long term sexual dysfunction. Cigarettes inhibit circulation, which means that, for smokers, the blood flow necessary for arousal can be impaired.
The Fix: Enjoy some good, clean fun (of the sexual kind). If you are used to having sex while intoxicated, this might seem a little scary or exposed. Go slow to adjust to your new normal. Another plus is that people who have sex while sober are more likely to be smart about birth control and STD prevention.
Being too tired for sex is a real thing. About a quarter of couples who live together say they are too fatigued to make love regularly.
The Fix: See if there is an underlying medical problem that might be making you tired. For men, get checked for sleep apnea. One study found that severe sleep apnea significantly knocked out testosterone production. If you have a clean bill of health, the obvious answer is to get serious about your sleep schedule. Also, don't limit intimacy to bedtime. The reality is that after a long day, it's legitimate to crave rest. Schedule a date for sex on a weekend morning or afternoon.
Exhaustion will not put you in the right mood...
Natural hormonal changes can have a big impact on the desire for sex. Pregnancy and breast-feeding can put a temporary damper on libido. If you are over 40, hormonal decline may be the culprit.
The Fix: Speak to your doctor or OB-GYN. If the issue is related to the changes associated with aging, they may recommend hormone treatment. Non-medical strategies such as incorporating sex toys or new activities into your sex life are also worth exploring. The book Moregasm, by the women who founded the sex toy boutique Babeland, has novel ideas for even the lover who thinks they have seen it all.
People who suffer from chronic depression can take longer to become aroused, have more trouble achieving climax, sometimes simply lose interest in sex. On top of that, as we have already discussed, some medications can impact libido.
The Fix: Being honest with both your partner and your doctor are key. Some people will reduce their medication without their physician's approval for a short term fix which can lead to greater difficulty over time. Non-medical approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, might also be helpful and have fewer side effects. However, physicians emphasize that you should tackle the depression first and then work on the potential sexual side effects.
Stress has a direct impact on sex drive, both psychologically and physiologically. It can mess with sleep, hormones, and blood circulation, all of which, as we have seen, can dampen your desire. For men, stress can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
The Fix: Don't have sex, not right away, at least. The stress hormone cortisol causes your nervous system to accelerate and what you want is to put on the brakes. Kissing, touching, and cuddling can all help slow down the stress response and increase closeness. This in turn creates the opportunity for arousal and intimacy. Classic stress reducing practices such as yoga and meditation have also been shown to help boost sex drive.
There's no standar for how much - or how little - sex you should be having
Everyone's libido ebbs and flows and there is no standard for how much sex you should be having. It is also crucial to remember that keeping things hot can take effort. "People often have this funny idea that sex has to begin with desire, but science has shown the opposite," says Ian Kerner, PhD, therapist and author of the bestseller She Comes First. "Especially for women, arousal often leads to desire." He adds that while men can experience spontaneous arousal (an erection out of nowhere), women often experience responsive arousal (a response to a stimuli such as erotica, a massage, or making out). You don't have to wait for a mythical perfect moment. Sometimes the answer can simply be reaching out, putting your body in motion and discovering that wakes up your sex drive.