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10 ways to boost libido

Both males and females can boost their libido using the following methods:

1. Manage anxiety

Share on PinterestRegular exercise and open communication can help prevent anxiety affecting libido.

Having high levels of anxiety is a common barrier to sexual functioning and libido for both males and females. This may be anxiety due to life stress or specific sex-related anxiety.

People with an intense work schedule, caring responsibilities, or other life stresses may feel fatigued and, as a result, have a low sexual desire.

Anxiety and stress can also make it more difficult for someone to get or maintain an erection, which can put a person off having sex. A 2017 review of erectile dysfunction in young men has suggested that depression and anxiety can result in a reduced libido and increased sexual dysfunction.

There are many things that people can do to manage their anxiety and boost their mental health, including:

  • practicing good sleep hygiene
  • making time for a favorite hobby
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a nutritious diet
  • working to improve relationships
  • talking to a therapist

2. Improve relationship quality

Many people experience a lull in sexual desire and frequency at certain points in a relationship. This may occur after being with someone for a long time, or if a person perceives that things are not going well in their intimate relationships.

Focusing on improving the relationship can increase each partner’s sex drive. This might involve:

  • planning date nights
  • doing activities together outside of the bedroom
  • practicing open communication
  • setting time aside for quality time with each other

3. Focus on foreplay

Having better sexual experiences may increase a person’s desire for sex, thereby boosting their libido. In many cases, people can enhance their sexual experiences by spending more time on touching, kissing, using sex toys, and performing oral sex. Some people call these actions outercourse.

For women, foreplay may be especially important. According to some 2017 research, only around 18 percent of women orgasm from intercourse alone, while 33.6 percent of women report that stimulation of the clitoris is necessary for them to orgasm.

4. Get good-quality sleep

Getting good sleep can improve a person’s overall mood and energy levels, and some research also links sleep quality to libido.

A small-scale 2015 study in women suggested that getting more sleep the night before increased their sexual desire the next day. Women who reported longer average sleep times reported better genital arousal than those with shorter sleep times.

5. Eat a nutritious diet

Following a nutritious diet can benefit people’s sex drive by promoting good circulation and heart health, and by removing specific foods that can decrease libido.

Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease can affect physical sexual functioning. Also, polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect hormone levels, which may also disrupt libido.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, low in sugar, and high in lean proteins can help prevent disorders that affect libido.

6. Try herbal remedies

Share on PinterestResearch into the benefit of maca powder for libido is ongoing.

There is little research into how effective herbal remedies are at improving sexual function in males and females, though some people may find them beneficial.

A 2015 review study states that there is limited but emerging data that the following herbal remedies may improve sexual function:

  • maca
  • tribulus
  • gingko
  • ginseng

People should be wary of using herbal medicines without their doctor’s approval. Some herbal medicines can interact with existing medications, and the Unites States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate them. For this reason, their quality, purity, and safety remains unclear.

7. Get regular exercise

Getting regular exercise can help libido in many ways. A 2015 study of men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy, which lowers testosterone levels, found that regular exercise helped men cope with issues such as body image concerns, low libido, and relationship changes.

A 2010 review of women with diabetes cites research showing that exercise may help lower diabetes-related symptoms in women. The study emphasizes that doing exercises of the pelvic floor may be useful in women without diabetes.

8. Maintain a healthful weight

Some overweight and obesity to low sex drive, along with other factors related to reduced fertility. This is associated with hormonal factors, such as low testosterone concentrations.

Some people who are overweight may also experience psychological effects, such as lower body confidence.

Maintaining a healthy body weight can improve a person’s sex drive, both physically and psychologically. Eating a healthful diet and getting regular exercise can help achieve this, as well as boost a person’s overall energy levels.

9. Try sex therapy

Sexual desire is complex, with both psychological and physical components. Even when a person has a physical condition that affects libido, such as diabetes, improving the emotional and psychological response to sex can improve libido and sexual functioning.

Therapy is an effective strategy for increasing low libido. Individual counseling can help address negative views about sex, self-esteem, and secondary causes of low libido, such as depression and anxiety. Relationship counseling can help some people work through factors affecting their sexual desire.

Alongside talking therapies, mindfulness therapy may also help. One 2014 study found that just four sessions of mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy in a group setting improved sexual desire, sexual arousal, and sexual satisfaction for women.

To find a suitable therapist in your area, search the AASECT directory.

10. Quit smoking

Smoking cigarettes can have a negative impact on a person’s cardiovascular system. Good heart health is important for good sexual functioning.

People who smoke cigarettes may find that their energy levels and sex drive increase after they quit.

5 exercises scientifically proven to boost libido

The science connecting exercise to sexual libido is limited and often derived from either low-powered laboratory studies involving mostly women or unscientific descriptive surveys conducted by exercise magazines and sporting-goods companies. Nevertheless, there are some general trends that support the idea that exercise can boost libido and sexual health in both men and women.

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One-time acute exercise sessions seem to boost sexual arousal via activation of the sympathetic nervous system, but it’s unclear whether this finding holds in habitual exercisers.

Notably, chronic training yields lower overall sympathetic autonomic neural tone and lower sexual drive. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that exposure to increased levels of endurance training on a regular basis (eg, marathon training) was significantly correlated with lower libido scores in men. Based on their findings, the investigators recommended that physicians who treat men for sexual disorders or counsel couples on infertility assess the degree of endurance exercise training in men as a possible contributory factor to decreased libido.

  • See Also: One more reason to get moving

Let’s look at possible exercises that might boost libido and sexual health.

  1. Strength training: Strength training involves the use of resistance, or weights, to make muscles stronger. Some experts believe that strength training boosts libido a bit more than cardio exercises—such as such as working the elliptical trainer or treadmill—do. This phenomenon could be because strength training is better at relieving stress than cardio is.
  2. Kegels: Some sources suggest that Kegel exercises, which help strengthen pelvic floor muscles, may help boost libido in both men and women. Typically, these exercises are used help alleviate problems with urine leakage or bowel control. But in women, Kegels might strengthen vaginal muscles for a more powerful orgasm. In men, these exercises could help delay ejaculation.
  3. Yoga: Practitioners of Ayurvedic yoga have long claimed that the practice helps with a variety of sexual disorders. Researchers who conducted a low-power study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that yoga helped with premature ejaculation, and was recommended as a safe and effective nonpharmacological option. In another low-power study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, yoga improved all domains of sexual function in women, including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. And these improvements were much more pronounced in older women (aged ≥ 45 years) vs younger women.
  4. Walking: Just 30 minutes of walking a day may decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction in men by up to 41%, according to a Harvard study. A separate trial indicated that such moderate exercise may also help to prevent erectile dysfunction in middle-aged, obese men.
  5. Swimming: Similar to walking, swimming for just 30 minutes three times weekly might boost sex drive, according to another Harvard study. And swimming can result in weight loss, which also improves sexual endurance.

  • See Also: When you choose your post-workout snack determines how healthy it is

On a final note, it’s unclear exactly how much exercise per week is truly needed to boost libido. Some research examining sexual function in men supports the notion that 2 hours of strenuous exercise, like running or swimming, may help. Alternatively, 3.5 hours of moderate exercise or 6 hours of light exercise may do the trick.

Give your libido a boost

A low sex drive is the most common sexual complaint women have. But for those of us looking to spice up our lust life, a variety of female libido-boosting, arousal-enhancing gels, patches and pills are poised to hit the market. While they’re not a fix for problems rooted in relationship difficulties—which may benefit from counselling—they offer some highly anticipated treatment options. Best Health spoke with experts across Canada for an update on the latest ways to get your female libido in check.

Arousal aids that’ll enhance your sex drive

Specialty personal lubricants make up the majority of remedies available to boost female libido, enhancing arousal and orgasm.

Current over-the-counter products include Vibrel, a vitamin B3-based formula that bolsters blood flow below the belt, and Zestra, which reportedly enhances “sensory nerve conduction” with botanical oils. Both arrived in Canada last year.

With these experimental natural products, a strong placebo effect may partly account for their effectiveness, explains Lori Brotto, director of the Sexual Health Laboratory at the University of British Columbia. Still, she encourages patients to try them.

“If the patient benefits because she’s expecting to, great—go for it.”

So far, there is only one Health Canada-approved product for women with arousal disorder (the inability to attain or maintain excitement and lubrication during sex): Eros Therapy.

This hand-held device goes on the clitoris and uses a gentle mini vacuum to heighten blood flow and sensation.

It can be applied during foreplay or without intercourse to condition sexual responses. “It’s a different kind of vibrator, really,” says Irv Binik, a psychology professor at McGill University and director of the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Sex and Couple Therapy Service. “Some women like it; some don’t.”

What’s up next? Several companies are developing arousal enhancers based on topical alprostadil (prostaglandin E1, a substance found naturally in the body), which also enhances blood flow.

The ingredient is used to treat erectile dysfunction, and researchers are hopeful it will work for women.

Testosterone? Good for female libido after all

Testosterone appears to play a direct role in sexual desire for both men and women, and products containing the hormone are already being prescribed “off-label”—that is, prescribed for a use not approved by Health Canada—for women with low sex drive.

“What’s interesting is that, for women with low testosterone, it seems to increase desire but also arousal, or lubrication, and sense of orgasm, so it can have an impact across the sexual response spectrum,” points out Dr. Stephen Holzapfel, director of the Sexual Medicine Counselling Unit at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.

In the U.K., Procter & Gamble’s testosterone-based Intrinsa patch has been prescribed to surgically menopausal women since last year, but it has yet to land in North America.

LibiGel may become the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for female sexual dysfunction.

It’s a testosterone gel applied daily to the upper arm and could launch in the U.S. as early as 2011.

In a small but notable trial with surgically menopausal women, those who used it for three months reported an increase in “satisfying sexual events” by 238 percent compared to baseline levels.

But like HRT, testosterone products are controversial because the safety of their long-term use—especially by premenopausal women—is unknown, and there are fears of adverse effects in pregnancy, breast cancer and heart disease.

Focus on your brain

Going beyond blood flow and hormones, some scientists are focusing on the brain to help increase the female libido.

New Jersey-based Palatin Technologies is investigating a new class of drugs that could spur desire in men and women by acting on the zones of the brain linked with arousal.

While research on the company’s headline-grabbing “aphrodisiac,” a nasal spray called bremelanotide, was shelved last year over FDA concerns about side effects (namely, increased blood pressure for short periods), a similar product is now being tested on women.

Animal studies are promising: The drug led the females to solicit sex more often, says Jim Pfaus, a Concordia University professor of psychology who has researched both the old and new compounds. The substance “amplifies the action of the excitatory system” in the brain, he explains.

Another promising drug is flibanserin, now undergoing extensive phase III trials (results are expected in late 2008 or early 2009).

The oral treatment balances out “too much inhibition”—the other main force in the brain that guides libido, explains Pfaus.

The drug “doesn’t mean everybody’s going to wear lampshades and have sex in the street,” he says. It just “normalizes” hyper-inhibitory systems. Depending on the trial findings, we may see this drug in Canada in the near future.

With its broad potential to help many revive their sex drive, including premenopausal patients, this may be the breakthrough women are waiting for.

5 Natural Herbs and Supplements to Increase Sex Drive in Women

S-E-X. You can’t get enough of it in your 20’s, and then at some point in life, it can start to feel like a chore.

There are other things that just seem much more appealing during those few minutes of downtime, like taking a nap, or watching a little reality TV, or even just getting the laundry done. What can you do about it?

There are many factors that can affect sex drive, such as whether or not you are in a relationship, how you are getting along, body image satisfaction, dietary intake, medication use, depression or history of sexual abuse. But if you don’t have any of those issues, how come you still aren’t in the mood?

Hormones that affect sex drive in females.

For starters, it might help to know that about ¼ of women of reproductive age and ½ of postmenopausal women suffer from decreased libido. So if you thought you were alone in this, you are not. In addition, it’s normal for sex drive to wane if you’ve been in a relationship for a while or are simply getting older.

Even though we haven’t exactly identified which hormones dictate sex drive, we do know that hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, are abundant when we are younger, and diminish as we age. And from nature’s perspective, this is logical because we don’t need to keep trying to make babies once we hit a certain stage of life.

In order to check up on these hormone levels as you age, Parsley Health doctors perform lab tests to evaluate the health of your sexual function. Since we know our bodies are producing less estrogen and testosterone, a critical determinant of the production of these hormones is cortisol, the stress hormone made in the adrenal glands that can also be tested, often with a saliva test.

Cholesterol, that famous lipid we’ve been trying to lower for the past few decades, is also worth measuring because having some around actually serves a purpose. One of its jobs is to act as a precursor of a number of hormones. Cholesterol can either follow one pathway to turn into cortisol or follow a different pathway to form testosterone and estrogen. So when cholesterol is very low, or stress is very high, we create less estrogen and testosterone—which might help to explain why you experience a boost in libido on vacation when stress is low.

Foods that affect sex drive.

One of the biggest factors that might be affecting your sex hormones is your dietary intake. Getting in enough foods rich in omega-3 fats help to support nerve and neurotransmitter actions that aid in sexual function while foods rich in zinc such as pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, spinach, and eggs support proper and speedy blood flow to all the right places. However, a diet that lacks essential vitamins and minerals and is filled with chemical preservatives and sweeteners might be having the opposite effect on your mojo.

For example, research shows that processed, chemically-derived food products such as diet soda can increase your risk of weight gain and cause hormonal dysfunction, leading to weakened sexual desire. Inadequate fat consumption from low-fat diets can significantly decrease testosterone levels, making it harder to get in the mood. Separately, conventional meat and dairy products which are produced from animals that are grain-fed and injected with hormones may slow digestion and disrupt your body’s natural hormonal balance.

So what is the best diet for sex drive? A varied, whole foods based nutrition plan that emphasizes organic plant foods, healthy fats, and well-sourced animal products is an essential initial step to correcting a diminished sex drive. You can also get a boost from certain herbs and supplements.

Top 5 herbs and supplements to naturally boost female sex drive.

When everything seems to be in about as good a place from a diet and lifestyle perspective as it’s going to be yet your sex drive is still low, there are some natural herbal supplements that might be helpful in nudging your body’s libido in the right direction.

1. Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

This plant is native to the Peruvian Central Andes and has been used in South America for years to improve fertility. There is some evidence that about 3 mg per day improves sexual desire and may be specifically helpful in those taking SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants. The effect appears modest, but there are no known side effects, and as a bonus, it may also enhance energy and quality of life.

2. Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

This is a plant high in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen (aka plant estrogen). One study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology International found that post-menopausal women who took 80 mg of red clover isoflavones over 90 days improved not only libido but also mood, sleep, and energy.

3. Korean Red Ginseng (Panax ginseng)

There have been some small studies of this herb that show it improves sexual desire in females at a dose of 3,000 mg per day. In the smaller of these studies, 2 of 28 women developed vaginal bleeding, though another study of 72 women reassuring found no change in estrogen levels at that same dose and did not report episodes of vaginal bleeding.

4. Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris)

This plant originated in Ayurvedic medicine and has been studied in both post-menopausal women and women of reproductive age with decreased sexual function. A dose of 7.5mg per day of extract in pre-menopausal women and 750mg/day (in tablet form) in menopausal women benefitted them in regard to many aspects of sexual dysfunction, including desire and lubrication. It increased testosterone levels in the post-menopausal women, which may, at least in part, explain it’s effectiveness.

5. Lady Prelox®

This is a combination of a few herbs and nutrients that have shown some benefit to female sexual function: Pycnogenol® pine bark extract, L-arginine, L-citrulline and Rosvita® rose hip extract. It was studied in pre- and post-menopausal women and both populations experienced improved sexual function.

6. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum)

Fenugreek is a plant that is cultivated worldwide and whose seeds are commonly used in South and Central Asian cuisine. The seeds also have roots in Ayurvedic medicine where they have been celebrated for their anti-inflammatory and libido-boosting effects. Some studies show the mighty herb positively influences sex hormones by increasing the activity of both testosterone and estrogen. One such study investigated the effects of fenugreek extract supplemention on 80 women who reported low sex drive. The experimental group took 600 mg of fenugreek daily and, compared to the placebo group, observed a significant increase in sexual desire and arousal by the end of the eight-week study. Typically, fenugreek is well tolerated but may interfere with certain medications, cause digestive distress in sensitive individuals, and should not be taken during pregnancy.

Precautions with using herbs to increase female libido.

The natural supplements reviewed above are included because they have been tested in randomized controlled trials, meaning they were compared with a placebo. This is key when evaluating libido since what happens between our ears is incredibly influential on our sex drive.

But it is important to put these studies into context – they are small studies, usually with fewer than 100 participants, and each herbal supplement for sex drive has best tested in only a handful of studies. That means you should recognize that, though they appear to be safe to use, we don’t know a lot about how long to take them, or if they are safe for everyone.

It’s best to work with your Parsley Health doctor to help you determine which natural supplement may be right for you and to help rule out any more serious underlying issues that may be contributing to your low sex drive.

With that caution in mind, if you want to increase your libido, manage that stress with some deep meditative breaths, set up a little romantic mood lighting and music, and, if your healthcare provider gives the okay, try one of these supplements.

Final thoughts on how to naturally increase sex drive.

  • Several factors can affect sex drive in women, such as whether or not you are in a relationship, how you are getting along, body image satisfaction, dietary intake, medication use, depression or history of sexual abuse.
  • High levels of cortisol suppress our sex hormones, which can lead to a lower libido.
  • Introducing restorative practices like meditation and yoga can go a long way in reducing cortisol levels and may help increase your libido.
  • Herbs and supplements can help improve your libido naturally, but it is best to work with a doctor to help you determine which is best for your needs.

First of all: Don’t worry, you’re nowhere near the only woman who experiences this. Anne Barbieri, M.D., an ob-gyn at Mount Sinai Medical Center, says people of all ages come into her office with a stalled sex drive, whether they’re in their twenties or sixties.

“For some people experiencing this, it’s due to a hormonal imbalance, but that’s not always the case,” she says. “You have to get into the complicated issue , which means talking about hormones, physical health, their emotional state, their lifestyle in general, and their relationship.”

“Women’s sexual desire and appetite begins in that great organ above the shoulders.”

But, first things first: To talk about what causes a low libido, you have to understand how your sex drive works.

What controls female libido anyway?

So, what charges your love machine? A key component is testosterone. As a woman, you don’t have enough of the hormone to grow a goatee; but the amount you do have plays a role in your sex drive, especially just before ovulation (when you’re most likely to get pregnant).

Every month at mid-cycle, your brain signals the ovaries—which create 50 percent of the body’s testosterone—to produce a surge of the lust-stimulating stuff. Basically, your body wants you to get busy during its optimal baby-making time.

Testosterone also initiates blood flow that causes your vagina and clit to become plump and sensitive. This leads to lubrication and, with any luck, one hell of an orgasm.

Why aren’t you feeling horny?

Now, as for what can put a pause on your passion, that’s where things can go in a few different directions.

Sherry Ross, M.D., women’s health expert and author of She-ology explains: “Women’s sexual desire and appetite begins in that great organ above the shoulders, rather than the one below the waist,” she says. “The daily stresses of work, money, children, relationships, and diminished energy are common issues contributing to low libido in women.”

That’s because, when your body produces more cortisol (the stress hormone), it decreases its output of testosterone (womp, womp).

That’s why Barbieri often asks patients about lifestyle factors first—like if her patient is committed to someone, communicating with her partner, and feeling happy. And she’ll look for signs of emotional or physical abuse, too.

Next up is lifestyle and schedule. “If someone is physically and mentally exhausted, that can lead to low libido,” Barbieri says.

Besides all that, Barbieri says she’ll also touch on hormonal issues like menopause and birth control.

Some contraceptives alter the body’s testosterone production—and not in a good way. Hormonal birth control often puts the ovaries to sleep, halting ovulation. Conked-out ovaries can’t produce testosterone. And lower testosterone often means lower libido.

“The most healthy and natural method to improve a women’s sex drive is having a close connection.”

A few other physical factors that can throw your hormones out of whack: depression (some antidepressants can put a damper on your sex drive), high blood pressure, high BMI, being overweight, and medical conditions like endometriosis, arthritis, and menopause.

How to increase your sex drive

If you just never want to do it, Barbieri says it’s worth trying at least a few of these:

1. Talk about that role-play fantasy you’ve been harboring.

Or consider introducing that sex toy you’ve always been curious about. Because, real talk: If you’re not communicating with your partner, you’re likely not getting what you need—in all aspects of the relationship.

“The most healthy and natural method to improve a women’s sex drive is having a close connection, emotionally, mentally and physically, with your partner,” Ross says. “Having good communication with your partner is the best foreplay a woman could ask for.”

2. Load up on avocado—and exercise.

You know that to nourish your body, you need seven to nine hours of sleep, regular exercise, and good-for-you food.

Well, all that will help fuel your sexual appetite, too. “Eat a diet that’s based on whole foods and rich in healthy fats, like avocados, olive oil and nuts,” Barbieri says, while lowering your intake of refined carbs, trans fat, and sugar

Those mood-enhancing endorphins you feel during or after a workout? That can also get you revved up in bed. “Women who do moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise showed an increase in libido and sexual performance,” Ross says.

3. Throw on a face mask while watching some Queer Eye.

Stress is a major libido killer. But taking some time for yourself can help that, Barbieri says. Set aside time during your week to treat yourself to some self-care. Take yourself out to a movie, get a mani, take a yoga class—whatever gives you some sense of bliss.

4. Load up on oysters. Yes, really.

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The science isn’t definitive, but hey, aphrodisiacs like oysters, eggs, caviar, asparagus, celery, onions and clamsare worth a shot. “Some are thought to improve sex drive by visually looking like genitalia (eggs and caviar), while others have the shape and texture (clams and oysters) of genitalia,” Ross explains. “Other foods (oysters) are high in zinc which many people are deficient in and can cause a low sex drive.”

5. Call in the big guns.

Losing weight, working with a doctor to address medication side effects, or going to physical therapy for any pelvic pain can all help turn up your sex drive.

Hormone replacement therapy is also an option if you’ve tried other methods, says Barbieri. In these cases, the most important thing is talking to your doctor to figure out what makes the most sense for you, before doing anything drastic.

Low dopamine levels. Sexual desire obviously involves the brain — and the brain’s chemical messaging system is intimately linked to sexual desire. One of those messengers is dopamine. Doctors have noted that Parkinson’s disease patients treated with dopamine-stimulating drugs had increased sexual desire. Goldstein says these drugs help some men with HSDD.

Each cause of low sexual desire has its own treatment. When the root cause is psychological, sex therapy can offer men specific techniques and strategies for regaining their enjoyment of sex. “It is not psychotherapy; it is psychology counseling focused on sexual issues,” Goldstein explains.

In cases where the problem is low testosterone, men can take testosterone supplements if they have measurably low levels. About 25% of men go for weekly testosterone shots, Goldstein says, but most opt for skin patches or gel formulations applied directly to the skin of the chest, shoulders, or abdomen.

When Goldstein suspects low dopamine levels are at the heart of a man’s low sexual desire, he might prescribe dopamine-increasing drugs, though this treatment is not currently approved by the FDA and has risks.

However, a new drug now in clinical trials — for women — does increase dopamine levels while decreasing a specific kind of serotonin in the brain. Early clinical studies suggest the drug could help women with low sexual desire. Goldstein thinks this new treatment has promise. And if it’s approved for women, he says, it will likely be tested in men.

In the end, the choice for men who’ve lost their desire for sex is not between being a panting sexual animal and being a eunuch. Instead, the real choice is whether these men are ready to regain a vital source of intimacy with their partners — and a key part of a healthy life for themselves.

Recharge your sexual energy

If lack of energy has drained your sex life, there are ways to reignite the passion.

Published: February, 2018


Image: © nautiluz56/Thinkstock

Your sexual drive can stay high late in life, but often your energy for sex can diminish. Low energy not only affects your sex life, but can carry over to other parts of your life, too. You can become apathetic, no longer find pleasure in favorite activities, and become more sedentary.

However, many of these issues related to lost sexual energy can be addressed. “Never think lack of energy means an end to your sex life, and there is nothing you can do about it,” says Dr. Sharon Bober, director of the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Sexual Health Program. “There are many strategies you can adopt to get back in the game.”

Find your energy drainers

Your lost sexual vim and vigor is often related to some kind of physical, emotional, or relationship issue. Here’s a look at the most common causes.

Low hormones. Lack of sexual energy could be due to male hypogonadism, which occurs when the testicles do not produce enough testosterone, the male sex hormone. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common side effects.

Testosterone levels drop about 1% each year beginning in a man’s late 30s, and could fall by as much as 50% by age 70. (A blood test from your doctor can determine if you have low testosterone.) Testosterone replacement therapy, which is given via absorbable pellet implants, topical gels, patches, and injections, can often help spark sexual energy in men with low levels.

Findings from a study published online Aug. 1, 2016, by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that a year of testosterone therapy improved libido in 275 men (average age 72) with confirmed low testosterone. Compared with men in a placebo group, frequency of sexual arousal increased by about 50%, and they were able to have almost twice as many erections.

Speak with your doctor about whether testosterone therapy is an option for you. Long- term risks are not well known, but there is concern for an increased risk of heart disease and prostate problems.

Erectile dysfunction. Men with erectile dysfunction can experience low energy because the condition can be a blow to their self-esteem. “Men may feel embarrassed about it or worry they will be judged in some way if they cannot perform as well as they once did, so motivation and energy for sex gets depleted,” says Dr. Bober.

In this case, speak with your doctor about taking an ED drug or exploring other options for getting or keeping an erection, like using a penile pump.

Even though talking about ED may be difficult, it’s important to open up lines of communication with your partner. “For many men, it can help relieve stress to know they are not alone and someone is there for support.”

Poor sleep. Lack of sleep can be one of the main energy zappers. Poor sleep can increase stress levels and interfere with how your body and brain store and use energy, which is why you feel so sluggish after not sleeping well. And if you are tired, you have less energy for sex. Talk with your doctor if you have trouble sleeping. Steps like changing medication or dose, cognitive behavioral therapy, and adjusting your diet and sleeping environment can often improve sleep quality.

Lack of movement. When you have no sexual energy, you need to get moving. Regular exercise is one of the best natural energy boosters. Numerous studies have linked exercise with improving fatigue, especially among sedentary people. You don’t need much to get a jolt — 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise can do the trick. Focus on a combination of cardio and weight-bearing exercises like brisk walking and strength training.

Get checked out

Many medical conditions can affect sexual drive, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. So be diligent about regular medical check-ups. Also, many drugs, including blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, and tranquilizers can produce erectile difficulties. Consult with your doctor if you take any of these.

Back in sync

Lack of energy also could be relationship-oriented, if you and your partner are not in sexual sync. For instance, you may have energy for sex, but your partner doesn’t, or at least not at the same level.

“Sex may not always be comfortable for women because of menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness. If sexual activity is physically uncomfortable, not surprisingly, a woman’s sex drive also diminishes,” says Dr. Bober. “This can affect both partners, and if a man is worried that he might hurt his partner, that will certainly affect his interest in sex, too.”

In this situation, you need to communicate with your partner about how important sex is to you. It’s not about making demands, but about finding ways to explore mutual goals, such as pleasure and closeness.

“Perhaps it means negotiating a compromise just like you do in other aspects of a relationship,” says Dr. Bober. “Partners find ways to share everything from household chores to bill planning, and sex shouldn’t be any different.”

There’s a lot of room to find common ground, she adds. “There are many ways to be sexually active with your partner besides traditional intercourse. For example, you can ask your partner to be with you when you pleasure yourself, which feels intimate and can allow both partners to feel connected.”

Talk about it

Sometimes the sexual barrier is not about sex at all. An open dialogue also can reveal issues beneath the surface that may interfere with your partner’s sexual energy.

“Your partner may desire sex as much as you, but there may be underlying problems in the relationship that could affect sexual desire and need to be addressed,” says Dr. Bober.

Finally, another way to ignite lost sexual energy is to do new things together. “Couples can get into routines that can make for boring sex lives,” says Dr. Bober. “It can be fun to speak with your partner about ways to keep the relationship interesting and erotic.”

Many times, this can be done outside the bedroom, like having more date nights, going for long weekend romantic getaways, or even doing simple activities together like joining a club or taking a class.

“Investing in change can energize both you and your partner, and most important, pave the way for a renewed sense of closeness and novelty that is great for all couples,” says Dr. Bober.

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Do you find yourself too busy, too tired, or too distracted for sex? Or does your drive just not seem to be there like it used to?

Testosterone is not responsible for libido alone. Especially for women, desire stems from a much more complicated set of hormonal and emotional interactions. But for men, while testosterone is not the whole story, it does play a leading role and the modern lifestyle may be your T’s worst enemy.

There is a new syndrome called Irritable Male Syndrome, or IMS, that’s due to testosterone deficiency. It goes beyond low libido, and includes emotional withdrawal, lack of motivation, aggression, personality changes, and anxiety. It can also present as self-destructive behaviors like gambling, alcoholism and workaholism.

If this sounds like you or your man, you’re not alone. Low testosterone affects at least 13.8 million men, with a significant number of those being men in their 30s.

The impact of low T is not just low sex drive or even mood issues. Testosterone deficiency leads to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bone fractures, projected to cost upward of $500 billion in the US in the next 20 years.

Low testosterone also increases a man’s chance of death. One study tracked 800 men for 50 years and showed that the group with the lowest testosterone levels had a 33% greater chance of death from all causes than the group with the highest testosterone levels. And another study showed that men with testosterone deficiency had 88% higher mortality levels than men with normal testosterone.

So how do you know where you stand when it comes to T? If you’re a man experiencing IMS symptoms, or noticing weight gain, fatigue, muscle loss, male pattern baldness, or changes in libido, get tested by a functional medicine doctor who can help you address the root cause of the problem.

While hormone replacement is an option for some, men who take the following seven steps are often able to rehab their testosterone, their sex drive, and the many other symptoms of T deficiency that go along with it.

1. Stay trim.

Belly fat and obesity are testosterone killers. One study showed that obese teen boys have up to 50% less testosterone than their non-obese peers. One reason for this may be that fat cells contain more aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.

Unfortunately, obesity and low testosterone reinforce each other, leading to a spiral of weight gain and hormone imbalance in men. The good news is that reversing the spiral is mutually reinforcing as well.

2. Get eight hours of sleep.

One study showed that after only one week of just five hours of sleep nightly, testosterone levels dropped 10-15%. While surviving on only a few hours may sound macho to some, it’s actually eroding your most important male hormone.

3. Avoid toxins that harm the testicles.

Phthalates and parabens in personal care products like lotions and shaving creams, and BPA in plastic bottles and on store receipts, are anti-androgens, meaning they disrupt the production and function of multiple hormones including testosterone.

So, green your bathroom cabinet, use stainless-steel reusable water bottles, and say no thanks to receipts at stores to avoid these chemicals.

4. Relax like a pro.

Stress is a major driver of low T. Ultimately your adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones and sex hormones are all interconnected in a beautiful but complicated dance.

A stress-driven phenomenon called “cortisol steal” can lead to a hormone imbalance where the production of testosterone is decreased in favor of cortisol. Stress also increases the production of aromatase and 5-alpha-reductase, two enzymes that break down testosterone.

If you relax and breathe, meditate, do yoga or otherwise boost your parasympathetic nervous system, even for just 10 minutes a day, you give your hormone system a chance to reboot and rebalance, lowering cortisol and increasing testosterone.

5. Avoid statins and eat more fish oil.

Not only do statin drugs negatively impact mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of your metabolism, they have been shown to lower free and total testosterone. This is most likely because cholesterol is the building block of all of your steroid hormones: cholesterol becomes DHEA, which in turn becomes testosterone.

Eating more fish oil will lower inflammation (inflammation lowers testosterone) and will also support the production of healthy cholesterol, the ultimate building block for T. As a bonus, fish oil also lowers sex-hormone binding globulin, the school bus-like protein that ferries testosterone around the body, so that more testosterone is free and available.

6. Take your vitamins seriously.

Vitamins A and E, and minerals zinc and selenium are like fertilizer for androgen production and testicular function. While in the developed world we may eat a lot of food, most of it is low or totally missing these important micronutrients.

Supplements are one targeted way to get more of these critical nutrients, or, eat more shellfish for zinc and selenium, carrots and kale for vitamin A, and almonds and sunflower seeds for vitamin E.

7. Get some sun!

The male reproductive tract is a target for vitamin D, and vitamin D supplementation has been shown to increase total testosterone, bioavailable testosterone and free testosterone. We have an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. If you aren’t sure of your level, get tested, and in addition to supplements, be sure to get your 15 minutes of direct sunshine a day.

Does Menopause Affect Your Libido?

There are many ways to treat libido changes due to menopause.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

One way is to treat the underlying hormone changes with hormone therapy (HRT). Estrogen pills can help reduce vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy by replacing the hormones your body is no longer making. There are potential serious risks of estrogen therapy, including blood clots, heart attacks, and breast cancer. If you only have vaginal symptoms, an estrogen cream or vaginal ring might be a better choice for you.

Learn more: Is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) right for you? “

There is also some evidence that moderate doses of testosterone can help women going through menopause increase their libido. Testosterone therapy also has potential negative side effects, including a risk for higher cholesterol and increased hair growth and acne.

Lubricant

A lubricant such as K-Y Jelly or Astroglide can ease vaginal dryness and help make sex more comfortable. That may help increase your libido if pain or discomfort during intercourse is affecting your libido.

Exercise

Exercise not only helps combat weight gain, but can also improve your mood. That’s because exercise releases endorphins, which can reduce stress and trigger positive emotions.

If you’re new to exercise or haven’t exercised in a while, start slow and work toward exercising for at least 30 minutes a day. At first, that may mean exercising for 10 minutes a day until you build up your endurance.

You may also want to consider trying an activity that you’ve always been interested in but haven’t tried before. The point is to do something that you enjoy so that exercise doesn’t feel like work.

Communicate with your partner

Loss of libido during menopause is often due to physical symptoms, but feeling more connected to your partner might also help you get in the mood for sex. Keep lines of communication open and be honest about your relationship and what you’re going through, both physically and mentally.

Focus on intimacy

Sex is not the only way to feel close to your partner. Kissing, caressing, and other nonsexual acts of intimacy can actually help boost your sex drive by creating a bond between you and your partner.

Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises can help tighten your pelvic muscles and enhance sensations during sex. To perform this exercise, you’ll first need to locate the correct muscles. The easiest way to do this is to stop peeing midstream. The muscles you activate are your pelvic floor muscles.

To do Kegels:

  1. Contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold the contraction for five seconds. Then slowly release for five seconds.
  2. Work up to repeating this move 10 times, 3 times a day.

Therapy

Therapy, both alone and with your partner, can help you manage some of the mood symptoms of menopause and understand how to manage a decreased libido.

Low Libido? Here’s How to Increase Sex Drive In Women

Photo: Getty Images/Martin Novak

If you’re wondering how to increase sex drive in yourself or in your partner, you’re not alone.

We tend to think of low libido as something that affects mostly older women—but that’s simply not the case. Roughly 40 percent of all women (premenopausal included) report having issues with their levels of desire, and at least 12 percent are troubled enough by them to fall into the category of female sexual dysfunction. (Read more about What’s Killing Your Sex Drive.)

First things first: If you have low libido and you’re bothered by it, tell your ob-gyn. She’ll be able to rule out biological causes, like certain meds or hormone imbalances, and refer you to a sex therapist who can work with you to create a treatment plan. But in the meantime, use these study-proven tricks to learn how to increase sex drive in women. (And see these 5 Common Libido-Crushers to Avoid.)

Take Sex Off the Table

When one half of a couple has low libido, it often creates what Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., calls a “chasing dynamic:” One partner asks the other for sex, the other says no. As this continues to happen, the asker starts to feel rejected and frustrated, which makes him or her even more eager to get that emotional and sexual connection.

Meanwhile, the decliner feels stressed and guilty over continually turning their partner down, which dampens her libido further. To interrupt this cycle, taking a “sex break” of a couple weeks or more can be helpful. This way, you can both focus on repairing and growing your relationship, whether you do that through sex or couples therapy, self-help books, or quality time together. (Related: I Tried a 30-Day Sex Challenge to Revive My Marriage’s Boring Sex Life)

Introduce Something New

Whether or not you believe humans are wired to be monogamous, recent research seems to indicate that your sex drive isn’t: As you become more comfortable with a partner, your libido naturally declines, regardless of sexual dysfunction, according to a report in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. (And the effect may be more pronounced in women than in men.)

Good news: That doesn’t mean you have to find a new partner. Other ways of adding some novelty back into your relationship might be the key to how to increase your sex drive, like watching different types of porn (instead of falling back on your fave fantasies), role-playing with your partner (imagine they’re a stranger, for instance), or buying a new sex toy to use together.

Try (Safely Vetted) Supplements

Your local drugstore probably has an entire aisle devoted to products that are purportedly the secret solution for how to increase sex drive. No, not all of them will work. However, some might have a modest effect—and, when it comes to desire, the placebo effect is really strong.

“If I said research shows that red M&Ms are a dangerously successful aphrodisiac, chances are, they’d help someone,” says Nagoski. Translation: they’re worth a shot. Just be sure to ask your doctor about what’s safe to take before trying anything new. (Related: The 4 Nutrients That Can Improve Women’s Sexual Health)

Be Mindful

Arousal starts in the mind, so it makes sense that mindful meditation, which encourages you to pay attention to bodily sensations and focus on the present moment might help women with how to increase their sex drive. After just three 90-minute training sessions (spaced two weeks apart), women with sexual dysfunction reported significant improvements in their symptoms, according to a 2008 study from the University of British Columbia.

Try these meditation apps for beginners to help you get started, or visit mbct.com to find a professional training program. (Related: How to Have an Orgasm Every Time, According to Science)

Learn More About Yourself (and Your Friends)

Many women don’t really talk about sex with their close friends. But that means we often walk around feeling abnormal for something that plenty of other women are going through. Nagoski advocates for more openness-but if you can’t bring yourself to spill in person, consider looking at online forums dedicated to sex (like reddit.com/r/sex) and female health (like the Women’s Health forum at WebMD). There’s also a whole crop of new sex apps that are devoted to sex education, helping you understand your body and sex drive, experiment, and even communicate better with your partner.

Remember the Hottest Sex You’ve Ever Had

Then try to recreate it. That doesn’t mean you have to revisit the exact place you were, or (if it was with someone other than your current partner) booty-call an ex. But think about the context as well as the sex itself, suggests Nagoski. Maybe you were on vacation without your kids or you were 10 pounds lighter. These all provide clues about controllable things that could be affecting your arousal, like stress or weight.

  • By Mirel Ketchiff @mirelbee

The other day I was chatting online with a new friend and potential lover, a younger cis-guy who lives in another city.

Me: I’m used to having a higher sex drive when I’m ovulating, it’s been like that all my life. But now that I’m 50 the intensity has skyrocketed. No one told me about this in menopause class!

Him: Oh wow–there’s menopause classes? You learn something new every day!

Me: Totally not, it’s a joke! I really wish there were classes! Massive information gap.

Him: Walking past a community hall… Sandwich board: TODAY–MENOPAUSE CLASS. TOMORROW–BINGO.

Lots of cyber-laughter ensued, but the whole thing set me thinking.

First signs of menopause

Menopause and the lead-up to it, known as perimenopause or the transition to menopause, varies from person to person. For some this phase is relatively quick and quite defined, perhaps just a year, with minimal disruption. But for many, it’s more challenging. Menstrual cycles lengthen and may become irregular and unpredictable. A friend had very heavy bleeding that lasted for weeks. Hot flushes during the day, and night sweats and other sleep disturbances can become regular companions.

These symptoms can feel like an onslaught. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the mood-swings and migraines, and it has been difficult to separate what might be menopause-related from what might be my pre-existing anxiety, fibromyalgia, and depression.

How perimenopause affected my sex drive

The one thing I haven’t found in many resources or articles is the nuclear-powered juggernaut that my libido seems to have turned into. The vast majority of online sources provide advice for the exact opposite: loss of libido during this stage in life. Some do acknowledge a huge upswing in desire can occur. Common advice seems to be that this could be due to a drop in estrogen, which causes an increase in the relative levels of testosterone in the system. This is all exacerbated in my case by the fact that not only are my cycles longer, I’m way hornier for much more of each cycle than ever before.

I’m finding my way through all of this now, several years after these changes first began. The Clue app has helped me come to more clarity about how, when, and why these physical symptoms emerge. Even when my cycles vary wildly, the app’s mechanisms can help me predict when I’ll become ragingly horny again, or when I might expect my usual monthly migraine.

The emotional aspects of this journey

For me there’s also another less physical, more emotional aspect to this perimenopause journey. For many years in my late 30s and early 40s I tried to get pregnant. My long-time partner, like me, was a cis-woman, and we were helped by several different sperm donors. I got pregnant just once over the course of five to six years, and I miscarried soon after.

These years we spent were some of the hardest and saddest I’ve ever had. Every month, getting my period felt like the death of someone very dear to me, someone I loved immensely, inexplicably, despite never having met them in the physical world. Like menopause, miscarriage is an aspect of life which is still not discussed or shared as much as many others.

During this time of Trying to Conceive (TTC as they say in online forums) I monitored my cycle with military precision. Unfortunately Clue wasn’t available at the time, but using more analog methods I tracked every possible fertility sign: my cervical fluid, the position and texture of my cervix, my dreams and moods. I even used a microscope to observe and analyze the structure of my saliva. It felt at times like a kind of madness or obsession. The drive to have a child was all-consuming.

It was clear from the beginning of our attempts that I was having difficulty conceiving, and in the end this was diagnosed as non-specific or unexplained infertility. I couldn’t afford (emotionally or financially) the kinds of tests or procedures which could have provided more information or solutions. So I decided to stop trying. It was a very difficult and sad decision.

Of course at that time my focus was entirely on tracking my cycle in order to pinpoint my fertile times. It was supremely important to me to know when I was most likely to get pregnant. Back then, I was charting and tracking solely for this purpose, and definitely not for measuring or predicting my libido surges. Due to the stressful nature of the whole process, there was virtually no libido to track.

For all of these reasons, it’s particularly poignant for me that I find myself once more tracking my cycle very closely, but for entirely different reasons.

I am reflecting deeply on that fact that I’ve reached a point in my life when pregnancy, even if I had no fertility issues, is an increasingly distant, if not non-existent possibility. There are still pangs of grief. I still avoid certain baby- or pregnancy-centered situations or people sometimes, especially if I’m going through a hard time, or need to treat that sad part of me tenderly.

I’m now single and no longer seeking to have children with anyone, and I’m mostly happy with this situation. I am at the beginning of a new phase in my career and am more happy with and in my physical body than I’ve ever been. I am sexually active and, despite the occasional perils of dating at my age in a city with a very young population, I’m enjoying it.

I feel lucky to be able to make the most of this unexpected gift from the hormonal universe that my surprising human body is, and always has been.

Article was originally published on Jan. 21, 2019.

Increase in sex drive

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