How to Boost Low Libido
Talking about sex can often bring about feelings of discomfort, embarrassment, or awkwardness. But let’s be real: it’s 2022 and about damn time we break the stigma surrounding sex. Sex proves to be a critical part of life and well-being by supporting us with significant emotional and physical benefits, but now more than ever, modern doctors and researchers are highlighting that low libido is a key indicator of our general health and overall quality of life.
Recent studies show that up to 43% of women and 31% of men have experienced low libido at some point, so why is the topic so taboo? If you suffer from a low sex drive, just know that you aren’t alone. Low libido can be provoked by a plethora of components, so let’s get to the root of the cause and break down how to boost low libido. Let’s talk about sex, baby!
- Libido is a term used to describe one’s desire for sexual activity, and it can put a strain on relationships and mental health when it’s overly high, or too low.
- Low libido can be provoked by a wide variety of causes including, but not limited to, hormonal shifts, medicine, depression and stress, relationship problems, and lifestyle changes.
- You can improve your sex drive by learning how to manage your mental health, exercise, change your diet, invest in your relationship, and improve your quality of sleep.
What is libido?
As defined, libido refers to one’s sexual drive or appetite. Stimulated by biological factors such as hormones (namely testosterone and estrogen), physiological factors such as levels of stress and learned behaviors, and social factors such as relationships, libido fluctuates greatly according to our hormonal shifts, current mental states, and phases of life. Additionally, it can be significantly affected by a variety of medications.
Having high libido means you’re more likely to crave sexual intimacy and pursue it with a partner or through masturbation. To be clear, a high sex drive is healthy and completely normal; however, having an overly high libido can interfere with your quality of life and can often be a sign of hormonal imbalance, and could be something to speak with a doctor about!
It is important to differentiate between a vigorous libido and one that is too high. Having a vigorous libido can reap tremendous health benefits that include less stress, healthy relationships, boosted confidence, better sleep, and overall better quality of mental health. It starts to cause concern when it interferes with one’s work, sleep, or social life, mental health, level of satisfaction, and quality of relationships.
However, when your libido takes a dip, your interest in sex does as well, and could very well be completely absent (which isn’t great for anyone involved.) Both extremes can be diagnosed and connected to a cause, but if not, libido can start to put a strain on relationships which, of course, is not ideal. Ultimately, low libido is much more common than high libido and has more causes. Fortunately, you can find the cause and sexual interest can be restored!
Keep in mind, there isn’t exactly a “norm” to diagnose low libido, and it is important to note that there is an extremely high degree of discrepancy in how everyone experiences it for themselves. That being said, common symptoms of low libido include:
- Little to no interest in sexual activity
- Lack of desire for a partner
- Minimal interest in initiating sex
- Stress and concern about the loss of desire for sex
- Not feeling satisfied from sex
What causes low libido?
Not one single thing causes low libido. Here’s a list of some of the most common causes of a low sex drive (note the variation in causation!)
- Hormonal shifts (think decreases in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Low testosterone is often the prime suspect.)
- Prescription medicines (think certain antidepressants, birth control, and opioid pain relievers)
- Lifestyle changes (think too much or too little exercise, aging, fatigue)
- Mental health (think anxiety, depression, stress)
- Relationship problems (think unresolved fights, trust issues, insufficient communication, and lack of connection)
With such a wide variety of potential causes of low sex drive, more often than not, it is the result of a multitude of factors that each contributes in their own way.
Testosterone is often referred to as the “sex hormone,” as it drives sexual desires and thoughts in both men and women. As we age, our testosterone levels naturally drop, which can greatly impact libido. Also, if you’re on the [burden] that is birth control, you may be familiar with the fact that decreased sex drive is an extremely common side effect. This is due to the extra estrogen in the pill that attaches itself to testosterone and ultimately lowers sexual desire.
Sex isn’t just physical, it’s mental as well. It is easy to get caught up in incessant dates and deadlines, impending life decisions, imbalanced work and social life, and infinite other stress-inducing tasks. Struggling to properly cope and manage stress, anxiety, and depression can be a huge contributor to a low sex drive.
Additionally, relationship problems are an often forgotten point, although they really shouldn’t be. Put simply, any conflicts experienced in a relationship can be realized in the form of low sex drive. Important questions to ask in a relationship: Are you communicating effectively? Are you bored? Are you fulfilling each other emotionally? Are you finding yourself constantly annoyed that your significant other isn’t taking out the trash when it’s their turn, again?
Some of these things may seem minuscule, but they add up quickly. Improving life inside the bedroom may have to start outside of it. Investing a little bit more TLC into your relationship and getting to the source of the problems can help tremendously in increasing sex drive.
How to boost low libido
As previously noted, having a low sex drive likely isn’t the result of just one factor. It’s also necessary to highlight that it is natural for sex drive to fluctuate over time. Just like everything in life, ebbs and flows are normal, but drastic and unanticipated changes in sex drive can be cause for concern, and you should reach out to your doctor.
Here are some ways to boost libido if you’re experiencing an aforementioned ebb and flow:
Managing your mental health
There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, but you can try to manage your anxiety by trying out therapy, different anti-anxiety and depression medications, journaling, meditation, and exercise (see below.) If you experience low libido as a result of these medications, it may be beneficial to speak to your doctor about managing your mental health differently, as this can seem like a double-edged sword.
There is certainly no shortage in the benefits of moving your body, but you can go ahead and add “boosting your sex drive” to the already endless list of exercise’s advantages. Exercise can boost your libido via increased health and mood, positive self-image, and improvement in your endocrine system (the system that regulates our hormones.)
Improving sleep quality
A good night’s sleep makes for an even better day. The CDC revealed that one-third of American’s do not meet the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. According to research, an extra hour of sleep each night increased the likelihood that women had sex the next day by 14%. Maybe it’s time to give our REM cycles a little more TLC.
Changing your diet
Incorporating herbs such as maca, ginseng root, and Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE) into your diet (all usually available in pill form) can help increase sex drive for a plethora of reasons. Also, ensuring that you’re fulfilling your nutritional needs by eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and enough protein can reap serious improvements in your libido levels. Eating aphrodisiacs (such as green tea and oysters) and avoiding libido-lowering foods (such as red meats, alcohol, and fried foods) could spice up both your kitchen, and your sex life.
Invest in your relationship
Often, the longer you spend in a relationship, the more common it is that things get “boring” in the bedroom, or you feel that the chemistry and sparks are lost. Investing in your relationship in the form of open communication, scheduled dates, sex and/or couples therapy, or taking vacations together can be a gamechanger. When you’re fulfilled emotionally, the more likely you are to desire intimacy with your partner.
In conclusion, if your sex drive starts to interfere with your day-to-day quality of life, talk to your doctor, as the problem can likely be diagnosed and treated. Remember: if you're experiencing low libido, you aren't alone; many people experience sexual challenges, but the topic is highly stigmatized and rarely discussed. It’s time to change the narrative and have open conversations about a perfectly normal part of life!
Written by Morgan Taylor