If you’re in a dry spell, it’s okay. It happens, especially if you’ve been with the same partner for years or are experiencing body changes due to ageing. The good news: You can get that mojo back with a few simple hacks. There are natural ways to boost your libido without much effort — and most of them are really enjoyable, too, so it’s a win-win.
Here are nine surprising things that may increase your sex drive, so you can have a more fulfilling relationship overall and make some extra special time for yourself.
You've probably heard that chocolate is a natural aphrodisiac, aka something that can spur sexual desire. “It’s high in tryptophan, a chemical that increases the synthesis of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that can have a big impact on libido,” says Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition. “In fact, some studies even show that eating more chocolate is associated with significantly improved sexual function in women."
Pick a low-sugar, high-quality dark chocolate (try Green & Black's Organic 85% Dark Chocolate) to maximize the antioxidant content and health benefits, and be sure to keep your portions in check, as excess chocolate and sugar intake can influence your weight. A square or two is a good serving.
“Derived from the bark of the Yohimbe tree, yohimbine supplements are frequently used as a natural remedy for sexual dysfunction," says Axe. "By encouraging smooth muscle relaxation, yohimbine is believed to help aid in the treatment of conditions like erectile dysfunction.” And there's some research to back that up, he adds, "although more well-designed human clinical trials are needed to evaluate its effectiveness." Before taking any supplements, consult with your primary physician to make sure they're safe for you.
Limiting alcohol intake
Booze might make you looser initially, but too many glasses of wine can cause an opposite effect. “While the occasional glass of wine with dinner is okay, overdoing it with the alcohol can quickly kill off your sex drive," says Axe. "Too much alcohol can interfere with your performance and make it hard for your body to respond sexually, resulting in issues like erectile dysfunction and a decreased ability to orgasm." Instead, have a glass or two to set the mood, but then head to the bedroom instead of pouring another one.
“Although it was originally used as a natural remedy to enhance fertility, maca is now recognized for its powerful libido-boosting properties,” says Axe. “In men, maca has been shown to help improve erectile dysfunction and increase sexual desire. In women, maca can help balance hormone levels and ward off side effects of menopause that may contribute to low sex drive, such as anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction,” he explains. You can find it in local health food stores as a supplement (or buy Viva Naturals Organic Maca Root Capsules online for $15, amazon.com), or get it in powder form to mix into smoothies, soups, or desserts. (Try Whole Foods Market Organic Maca Powder, $13, amazon.com.)
Add this to the many reasons to stay well hydrated: Doing so can help you maintain sex drive and stamina. “Dehydration is associated with a long list of negative side effects that can quickly kill the mood, like fatigue, headaches and vaginal dryness,” says Axe. “Be sure to drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables to stay adequately hydrated." For most, getting 8-10 glasses of water is enough, he says.
“Well-known as a natural aphrodisiac, both Asian and American varieties of ginseng are believed to boost sex drive," says Axe. "The beneficial effects of ginseng are attributed to its content of ginsenosides, which have been shown to improve blood flow and decrease erectile dysfunction." What’s more, research shows that ginseng can also help improve libido, sexual performance, and even sperm quality.
Having more sex
“Yes, having sex boosts sex drive more than anything else I can recommend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my clients, ‘Sex begets sex. The more you have, the more you want,’” says Holly Richmond, PhD, a somatic psychologist and AASECT certified sex therapist.
By getting it on, you stimulate those feel-good hormones, like dopamine and oxytocin, which sends a signal to your body to crave more. “I compare it to exercise," says Richmond. "It can be so hard to start a regular routine, but once that’s established, you miss working out like crazy if you miss a day or two."
Speaking of exercise, it can also fuel your libido. “Exercise stimulates testosterone production, which is key to a strong libido," says Richmond. "And, exercising with your partner is a great way to do something together that makes you feel strong, confident and, as a byproduct, sexy."
You can do HIIT, running, Pilates, or other forms of cardio and strength-training together, but you might want to try yoga, too. “Yoga has been shown to help combat fatigue and stress while decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety, all of which can contribute to a low libido,” says Axe. Bonus: It can also enhance flexibility, balance, and strength, which can have a beneficial effect in the bedroom, as well. Plus, you can even have post-workout sex, which might just be even hotter.
Adventures can make things exciting, and this adrenaline boost will also improve sex drive. “This can be anything from travelling to a new place, learning a new language, trying a new sport, or better yet, adding something totally new to your sexual repertoire,” says Richmond.
“Humans crave novelty in most aspects of our lives, and sometimes in long-term relationships, novelty has radically diminished," she says. "Bring it back with anything you are both game to try — the mind/body connection will translate to a renewed sense of exploration and excitement, personally, relationally, and for your sex drive."
This article originally appeared on Prevention US.