Low Libido? Try These Expert-Backed Strategies to Boost Your Sex Drive

By Prevention

May 29, 2018

So your sex drive’s gone MIA. First thing’s first—don’t freak out. Dry spells are totally normal, especially if you’ve been with the same person for a long time. In fact, up to 43 percent of women experience low sexual desire, while roughly 10 percent deal with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSSD), or a lack of interest in sex, according to a 2013 review of research.

But even though it’s common, a missing libido can be super frustrating—especially when you’re trying to figure out how to get it back. The process can be really difficult, since there are so many factors that play a role in why it took off in the first place, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN and clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine.

Some common culprits: you just went through a major life change (like starting a new job or moving to a different city), started a new medication, or have an underlying medical condition stalling your sex drive.

It’s important to note that having a low libido isn’t always an issue. If you and your partner are totally fine with fewer romps, then there’s really no need to worry. But if you’re on a seemingly endless hunt for “the mood” and it’s starting to mess with your relationship and personal happiness, there are several science-backed strategies that can help. Ready to heat things up again? Here are eight things you can do to boost your sex drive.

Be more mindful

Experts theorize that sexual desire could boil down to a balance in brain chemicals. There are some neurochemicals that get you amped up for sex, like dopamine, oxytocin, and norepinephrine, says Stephanie S. Faubion, MD, director of the Women’s Health Clinic at the Mayo Clinic. Then there are others, like opioids and serotonin, that can get in the way and inhibit your excitement.

That’s where mindfulness exercises—like focused breathing or meditation—come in. “Being more mindful might alter the balance of brain chemicals in a good way,” Dr. Faubion says. A recent review of research found that mindfulness-based therapy worked to improve sexual function in women. The practice also aids in reducing stress hormones, which are known to sink your libido.

Try 15 to 20 minutes of meditation a day to start. In the heat of the moment, try syncing your breathing with your partner’s or focusing on what they smell like, suggests Leah Millheiser, MD, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford Medicine. “This brings you back to the room instead of going through the motions while your brain is somewhere else.”

Take your time with foreplay

Most people dive right into sex, but 15 to 20 minutes of foreplay is crucial for building desire, says Stephanie Buehler, PsyD, a sex therapist at California’s Hoag for Her Center for Wellness.

Once you spend some time kissing and touching, your desire will spike both emotionally and physically. You’ll not only feel more connected to your partner, but your vagina will also produce enough lubrication to make sex feel more pleasurable and enjoyable. That’s obviously never a bad thing, and boosts your chances of wanting to do it again.

Get to know your body

Here’s a question you may have never been asked: Could you pick out your own clitoris if you saw it in real life? “Many women are out of touch with their own sexuality,” notes Buehler. “That means that they may not connect with sexual feelings or urges.”

The fix? Grab a hand mirror and check yourself out. It’s actually something Dr. Faubion often does with her own patients. “You’d be surprised at how many women have never looked [at their own bodies] or it’s been decades,” she says.

Familiarizing yourself with your anatomy can help you get in tune with your sexuality, Buehler notes. That’s why flying solo can lend a helping hand to your libido. Vibrators, which half of women have tried, and other sex toys are a great way to explore what you want and need sexually. Masturbating can lead to more sexual fantasies, boost arousal, and help you reach orgasm faster, according to a study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.

Stick to a workout routine

You know that amazing rush you feel after an awesome workout? Well, those changes in your body (better cardiovascular health and blood flow) and brain (an uptick in feel-good neurotransmitters) play a role in maintaining a healthy sex life, research suggests.

“All of those things lend themselves to a woman wanting to engage in sexual activity because she feels good about herself,” says Dr. Millheiser. “Sex isn’t just about desire. It’s about body image, self-esteem, and confidence—and exercise boosts all of those.”

Schedule some alone time with your partner

Good sex should be spontaneous and just happen, right? Not always. “For women, one of the key drivers is emotional intimacy,” says Dr. Faubion.

That’s because sex isn’t just about pushing the right buttons physically—you have to feel turned on mentally, too, research suggests. If you feel emotionally close to your partner, you’re much more likely to want sex. One way to do that? Schedule a weekly date night. (Get creative and try these six date night ideas that aren’t dinner and a movie.)

You have to prioritize sex, too. Pick a day of the week or have a cue that only you two know means sex (something like: “I think we need to go out to eat”). The more this intimacy becomes part of your routine, the better. It helps physically, too. If you make an active effort to schedule time for sex, you’ll also boost pelvic blood flow and vaginal moisture, which gives way to increased comfort and (hopefully) pleasure, notes Dr. Faubion.

Talk about sex

Communication, in general,is tough. Communication about sex? Even tougher. “People have difficulty saying what they like, how they want to be approached, and when they want to be approached,” says Buehler. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask, so open up the convo by discussing sex outside of the bedroom.

Questions like, Why do people have sex?, Why do people stop having sex?, Why was 50 Shades of Greyso popular? can provide insight into how your partner is thinking and allows you to express your thoughts. As you become more comfortable with the topic, these conversations will eventually give way to more intimate topics like, What do you enjoy?, saysBuehler. This talk should be a two-way street, so you can both gain an understanding of what works—and what doesn’t—in the bedroom.

Make an appointment with your doctor

To get to the root of the problem, a full check-up with your doctor can help ensure an underlying condition (a sleep disorder), medication (an antidepressant), or a physical complication (post-pregnancy) isn’t to blame for your lacking libido. After all, both physical and mental conditions can impact your sex drive.

To view the original article from Prevention, please click here.