5 Things Slowing Down Your Sex Drive

1
Libido Blockers

Low Libido
Getty Images/Peter Cade

There’s nothing wrong with not being in the mood every now and then. Everyone’s libido fluctuates for a range of reasons. Hormonal changes, age, your menstrual cycles and even a heavy meal can make you feel more passion for Netflix than your partner. But if you find that it’s a persistent problem, or if it starts to affect your relationship, it’s important to take the downturn seriously.

The culprit for your lack of longing could also be something you’d never expect!

There are a lot of possible medical causes for low libido including hyperthyroidism, hormonal imbalance and mental health issues—so be sure to express your concerns to your doctor. But if medical causes have been ruled out and the low libido still persists, a few basic lifestyle changes could launch you back into the healthy sex life you should be enjoying.

2
Your Diet

Getty Images/Paul Taylor

Certain foods can lower testosterone levels which in turn can decrease sex drive in both men and women. In fact, the same menu that helps get you in the mood may actually be dampening your desire. Date-night favorites cheese and chocolate increase the activity of the enzyme aromatase which raises estrogen levels. Additionally, much of the dairy Americans consume is derived from cows that are loaded with hormones, potentially throwing ours out of whack and resulting in a low libido.

Though we all know it’s a good idea to avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners are especially dangerous. Aspartame (an artificial sweetener frequently used in low-calorie foods) directly affects serotonin levels which are essential for a sense of well-being and happiness. Low serotonin causes depression and is also commonly associated with low libido.

One food you may not know is killing your sex drive is the soybean. Consuming high levels of soy can disrupt ovarian function in women, and just a half of a serving per day slashed sperm count in healthy males by 40%.

Soymilk, edamame, and tofu are the most commonly consumed soy products, and it’s the primary ingredient in most meat-substitutes. The alternative? Stay away from soy, fatty and processed foods and switch to organic and hormone-free meat and dairy whenever possible. You should see a spike in your sex drive soon!

3
Drugs and Alcohol

Getty Images/Sam Diephuis

Though it may help loosen things up, more than just a little bit of a mood-altering substance can end up working against you. Substances like marijuana and alcohol are depressants that end up having a negative effect on your sex drive both immediately and long-term. Some doctors believe marijuana also impacts sexual performance because it decreases testosterone levels. Harder drugs like opioids also decrease testosterone, especially when used recreationally. Even small amounts of these substances affect both sensitivity and staying power—not just in the moment, but during the hangover and perhaps longer.

4
Your Medication

Getty/Anne Rippy

You’d be surprised how many medications don’t warn you of their sexual side effects, so you may be experiencing low-libido without knowing why. Those taking antidepressants like SSRIs are four times more likely to report sexual dysfunction. Other drugs that can affect sex drive include antihistamines and beta-blockers as well as medication for hair loss, an enlarged prostate and bipolar disorders. The birth control pill also comes with a range of possible side effects, with oral contraceptives a common overlooked culprit. If you’ve recently started on the pill and noticed a dip in your sex drive, talk to your doctor about a possible non-hormonal method of birth control.

5
Your Sleep Habits

Getty Images/Jekaterina Nikitina

Tossing and turning night after night? Not getting enough sleep—or waking up bleary-eyed? Fatigue not only wreaks havoc on your body and general health, it also decreases sexual desire and satisfaction. We need between six and nine hours of quality shut-eye or we risk doing damage to ourselves. Poor sleep is a common cause of low sex drive, but this is easily remedied by making some simple changes.

First, the bed should only be used for sleeping and sex (put that laptop away!) Next, make sure the bedroom is cool, quiet and dark. Get cozy, breathable cotton sheets and reduce interruptions with a sleep mask or blackout curtains. Get rid of external stimuli—including the TV and phones—at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Avoid eating (especially sugar) at least two hours before bed. You should have your last caffeinated beverage around 8 hours before sleep, especially if you have trouble drifting off. Finally, going to bed and waking at the same time every day helps the body maintain a circadian rhythm.

If you make all these adjustments and sleep is still an issue, testing for a sleep disorder may be a good idea. Sleep apnea is a common condition that can reduce testosterone levels which—you guessed it—decreases your sex drive.  

6
Your Stress Levels

Getty Images/RunPhoto

Last, is the number one libido killer: stress. All the factors mentioned above can cause or contribute to heightened levels of stress. Hard times happen to all of us, and lifestyle adjustments can help us find balance. But sometimes yoga and a bubble bath just won’t cut it.

Stress releases the hormone cortisol in the body, which effectively triggers the fight, flight or freeze response. Remaining in this state for an extended period of time can lead to a condition called chronic stress. While low levels of cortisol are healthy and natural, chronic and excess amounts can lead to negative effects on your health—which is another cause of low libido. The last thing we want when we’re tired and stressed out is a night of passion.

However, sex is actually a great stress-reliever as it replaces the cortisol with feel-good hormones like oxytocin and endorphins. So the next time you’re feeling your blood pressure rising, swap the Chardonnay for an orgasm (or two)—your brain and body will thank you!

Continue Reading