If you’ve found yourself wondering where your sex drive has gone, you’re not alone. As we go through life and deal with changing hormones, increased stress, relationship issues, and other mental and physical challenges, it’s no secret that our libidos tend to suffer. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly one in three women report low levels of sexual desire. For women, this is caused by a combination of both mental and physical factors. “Women’s sexuality tends to be multifaceted and fairly complicated,” says sex psychologist Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg. “Although we would love to simplify it so we could have the one-two or even a one-punch treatment, it doesn’t tend to work that way,” she says.
There are many ways you can naturally get your sex life back on track. Whether the problem is big or small, your sexual health goes hand in hand with your mental, physical, and emotional health, and it’s important to treat it as a major component of your overall well-being.
“There’s a lot of confusion and guilt around this topic and it can make you just want to brush it under the rug,” explains sociologist and sexologist, Dr. Jennifer Gunsaullus. “A lack of physical intimacy can negatively impact the deep connection of your relationship. Sexual intimacy is a powerful way for couples to build and maintain their love and nurturing, and can provide the juice needed to keep working through problems, so it’s imperative you don’t ignore it,” she says.
Even in the best relationships, sex can become ho-hum from time to time. But, armed with the right information, a positive outlook, and a little bit of imagination, you can rekindle the spark and maintain a healthy sex life for many years to come. Scroll on for 7 unexpected ways to give your sex life the boost you’ve been wanting.
Use a foam roller to reconnect to your pelvic floor.
One hundred Kegels a day. That’s what it takes to make an enormous difference to our sexual health and well-being, according to a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. A strong pelvic floor not only plays a role in urinary incontinence, it can also affect how we experience intimacy and pleasure, says body-alignment, fascia, and movement specialist/author Lauren Roxburgh. “When you have a weak pelvic floor, it’s much harder to connect to your body or experience sex in the most fulfilling way possible,” she says.
Releasing and strengthening the pelvic floor can allow you to relax that area when you’re having sex so that you can feel the rest of your body more instead of being stuck in your head. Releasing the pelvic floor and connecting with it through stretching and breathing can help us relax, release stress, and create a sense of grounding. Read more about Lauren’s foam rolling exercises to better sex here and here.
Add a libido-boosting adaptogen to your diet.
Turns out, love potions do exist. Adaptogens — a group of natural, ‘superfood’ ingredients which incorporate a range of amino acids, vitamins and herbs — have been around for centuries, and were traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for boosting energy levels and combatting stress. But, turns out they can have a seriously positive effect on your sex drive, too. Studies show that certain adaptogens can improve your libido and physical stamina, boost your immune system, decrease stress, and aid in mental clarity.
“Ultimately, adaptogens are non-stimulating, non-addictive super-herbs and super-mushrooms that will naturally help guide your body to its own natural homeostasis and rev up your libido,” explains Amanda Chantal Bacon, chef, food educator, and founder of Moon Juice. We’ve waxed poetic about adaptogenic herbs before—and love adding them into our morning smoothie or coffee. Read more about the life changing power of adaptogens here.
Take a quiz to find out if you have symptoms of HSDD.
Loss of sexual desire, known in medical terms as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), is the most common form of sexual dysfunction among women of all ages. It’s an all-too-real issue that impacts the daily lives of 1 in 10 women, their relationships, and their sense of well-being. For these women, a lack of sexual desire or feelings of comfort and intimacy when it comes to sex are actually rooted in a biological basis. Brain scan studies show markedly less activity in areas of the brain that are important in sexual response for women who suffer from HSDD. The key components of HSDD can negatively impact personal attitudes, such as body image and self confidence, and can lead to interpersonal difficulties, such as feeling less connected to a partner. Think you may be suffering from it? Find out here by taking the quiz.
Get more sleep.
While you may assume that in order to have great sex, you’ll need to sacrifice some sleep, it turns out the two actually go hand-in-hand: more sex helps you sleep, and more sleep boosts your sex drive.
Having sex can actually make it easier for you to fall asleep too, due to the hormones that are released during the act. Sex boosts oxytocin (a hormone that makes you feel connected to your partner) and lowers cortisol (a stress-related hormone). Plus, having an orgasm releases a hormone called prolactin, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy. On the flip side, sleep-deprivation raises cortisol levels, which can deplete your sex drive and leave you feeling less than frisky.
Don’t skip your work out.
Physical activity is first and foremost among the healthy behaviors that can improve your sexual functioning. Numerous studies have shown that women who work out regularly have stronger sex drives –because physical arousal depends greatly on good blood flow, exercise (which strengthens your heart and blood vessels) is crucial. Studies also showed that moderate exercise can also help intensify feelings (and frequency) of arousal in women.
Working out regularly can also help with another factor that can negatively affect a woman’s libido: confidence. Being unfit or feeling uncomfortable with your body can keep you from wanting to have sex, while being in good physical condition helps you feel comfortable, confident, and ready for some fun between the sheets.
Stay away from the screen.
Whether you’re sending emails, scrolling through social media, or watching another episode of your favorite Bravo show, late-night screen time disrupts your sleep cycle and affects your libido. The electronic activity revs up your brain just when it should be winding down, and the glow from the screen delays the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Poor rest is known to reduce testosterone levels in both men and women — the hormone responsible for healthy sex drives. Missing out on sleep also creates an imbalance of dopamine and serotonin and can contribute to other health issues such as depression or weight gain, which can also have a significant affect on your libido. Set a goal of sleeping at least seven hours a night and avoiding screen time for at least 30 minutes before bed.
A recent study suggests that women who meditate experienced greater sexual satisfaction than women who don’t. “At a very surface level, mindfulness helps us with distraction,” says Lori Brotto, professor of gynecology at the University of British Columbia, co-author of the study, and author of Better Sex Through Mindfulness. “We know that people can be easily distracted in general, and in particular around sexual activity. One of the ways that mindfulness helps us in that domain is that it teaches us to be fully anchored in the here and now, in the sensations,” Brotto says.
In other words, meditation and mindfulness practices can help us learn to be present to the actual lived experience of the body and less caught up in the back and forth of our brains. “We practice synchronizing mind and body so that when we go into our life or we get into bed with someone that synchronization is more familiar,” she says. “In a sense, sex can be the ultimate mind-body practice.”
If you’ve ever tried to meditate, you know that becoming present is a practice. Though the goal of meditation shouldn’t necessarily be to get turned on, it can help you become present, to bring your awareness to your body, and therefore, to have better, more present sex.
*this post is in partnership with Right To Desire. If you are suffering from HSDD, know that you aren’t alone, and it’s not your fault. We encourage you to join the 15 million other women struggling with HSDD, join the conversation, enter this contest, and start changing the narrative around HSDD.