Ironically, the main libido-killing factor we most often hear about is stress. While it certainly can cause a dip in desire, it's also not the only reason why you're feeling lackluster about sex. Many factors play a role in libido; from hormone changes to your degree of self-confidence. Plus, libido is a finicky thing that changes over time, with different life stages and personal relationships.
What’s more, many of your seemingly harmless daily habits might be having a greater effect on your sex drive than you realize. Here, we've rounded up seven surprising everyday practices that might actually be screwing with your sex drive. And if changing a few behaviors means more orgasms, consider us signed up.
Holding onto resentment
There's a reason people tell you to never go to bed angry.
“Harboring feelings of resentment or anger may block your natural connection and desire to exchange erotic energy. It’s important to discuss unresolved issues and work towards a harmonious relationship, as this will keep your libido flowing,” Alicia Sinclair, clinical sexologist and CEO of B-Vibe tells Women’s Health.
As we’ve mentioned, stress in general screws up libido. When we’re experiencing anxiety or high mental strain, our bodies produce the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. This is like kryptonite for erotic feelings. In order to combat stress in your relationship, try these tips for a healthy way to deal with common couple fights.
Binge watching the new season of Stranger Things
Winter is coming, and as the weather gets colder, there is nothing better than getting snuggly on the couch and watching endless hours of your favorite Netflix shows. The problem? Being a couch potato throws a wrench in your sex life.
Regular exercise is a key element in getting in the mood. According to a study in Physiology and Behavior, exercise enhances serotonin and dopamine levels, the feel-good chemicals in the brain that get you feeling frisky. Sinclair tells us that hitting the gym is especially important on days you plan to have sex, as it increases blood flow and, consequently, libido.
Looking for some exercise ideas? “Lunges and squats work the muscles in your thighs, butt, and pelvic floor. This work stimulates blood flow and can positively affect your libido,” says Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., clinical sexologist and psychotherapist.
Eating all those salty snacks
If you’re trying to feel sexier, look at what you’re eating. Salty, heavy foods do nothing for your eroticism—we don’t feel hot when we’re sluggish.
If you want rev up your sex drive, stick to lighter foods that don't make you feel foggy and gross. For starters, Overstreet says to stay away from refined carbs and sugar. Part of what gets us in the mood is feeling comfortable in our bodies. If you eat healthfully, you’ll likely increase your confidence and energy, which can lead to more sexy time.
Not having sex
Believe it or not, if you’re not in the mood for sex, it might be because you’re not having sex. That's right, you might not be in the mood for sex because you aren’t having sex because you aren’t in the mood for sex.Translation: It’s one big vicious cycle.
Sinclair says that, ”The more sex you have, the more sex you're likely to want.” When you stop having sex, your body adjusts to this state of being. Think of having sex like going to the gym: You don’t want to go, but once you do, you feel fabulous afterwards.
In the immortal words of Nike: Just do it. (But, you know, only if you want to.)
On that note...
Skipping out on masturbation
Much like how not having sex can lower libido, so too can foregoing masturbation. Again, the vicious cycle. Don’t fall into it.
Masturbation is a form of self-care. It gives you time with yourself to reconnect to what turns you on. “Staying in touch with your body can help you stay connected with your desire,” Overstreet says.
Make masturbation a part of your regular routine. Find some porn you like, masturbate with your partner, or turn on your favourite sexy playlist and enjoy yourself. Take small steps everyday to give you a leg up in the bedroom.
Having that last glass of wine
We tend to follow the narrative that drinking lowers inhibitions, making you more likely to pursue sex. We feel less self-conscious, so we go for it. Unfortunately, drinking is not the libido booster you imagine.
“Many people believe that loosening up will help with their sex drive, but too much alcohol can actually have the opposite effect, as it is known to decrease testosterone,” Sinclair says. Alcohol can also decrease your serotonin levels, according to a study published in Neurotransmitter Review, which play a role in your sex drive. Sinclair's advice? If you're planning to get busy, “stick to one or at max, two, glasses of alcohol to make sure that it doesn't affect your drive.”
Not talking about sex
Okay, this isn't exactly a habit like binging on Netflix or sipping vino, but one of the major things that causes backlash on our libido is our fear of talking about sex, sex drive, and sexual desire.
“Since healthy libido isn’t openly talked about, it is surrounded in mystery. This leads to a cycle of not speaking out about it, which keeps the topic in the dark,“ says Overtreet. “This leads to an endless cycle of women who struggle with libido, which often leads them into thinking that they are flawed and broken.”
When we don’t talk about our fantasies, desires, or wants with our partner—we wind up holding onto negative internal feelings (and not coming). Communication is key in any relationship and is critical in keeping you sexually connected with your partner. To get the convo going, try asking your partner these eight questions.
Gigi Engle is a sex educator and writer living in NYC. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.
This article is from Women's Health US.