Of course there are times when your libido may more revved than others. But if you’re feeling less into it, more often, consider some of these everyday habits that could be pumping the brakes on your sex drive.
You sweat all the small stuff. And when you combine the pressure at work with everyday home stress with that snippy text that sent you reeling and the sleep you lost over a petty argument, it’s no surprise you’re having a hard time finding that lovin’ feeling. Researchers from the Kinsey Institute in Indiana surveyed people about their sexual activity to see how certain moods affected their libido; they found women were less likely to get in the mood when stressed or anxious, compared to men. Not that guys are off the hook: alongside with health issues, emotional problems—like chronic stress or depression—can lead to erectile dysfunction. (Here are other common causes of ED.)
You’re not feeding your libido right. Your diet could be a culprit in your low libido. Healthy fats found nuts and avocados, for example, help keep your heart and arteries healthy so blood can get down there; the same is true for berries, grapes, and citrus fruits. The foods to limit in your diet: anything made with white flour, which may cause blood sugar to spike and energy to fall; fried foods, which can raise artery-clogging cholesterol levels; and salty packaged products (like cold cuts and canned soups) that can lead to high blood pressure and reduced blood flow.
You pop certain pills. Some high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and even over-the-counter antihistamines and other drugs used to treat chronic conditions may lower libido or cause sexual problems. If you think any meds in your regimen may be impacting life between the sheets, talk to your doctor.
You’ll have another round, or two. A glass of wine or cocktail may get your juices flowing and have you feeling a little friskier, but research has shown too much alcohol, too often, may decrease sex drive in both men and women. Excessive alcohol use can also make it harder to have an orgasm, as well raise the risk for erectile dysfunction. Another vice worth curbing: smoking. Research has shown men who successfully kick cigarettes report more...ahem... robust erections and reach max arousal faster than smokers who relapse.
You skimp on sleep. Not only will that likely leave you too tired for sex, but it may also lower your libido. One small study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found testosterone levels in men dropped as much as 15 percent after just one week of five-hours-a night sleep. You know what can help here? More sex. That’s because doing the deed boosts hormones that help you feel connected to your partner, lowers stress hormones, and—if you reach the big O—releases prolactin, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Consider it the perfect storm of hormones to help you cuddle and fall asleep. Experts recommend aiming for seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night.
Beckman LJ, Ackerman KT. Women, alcohol, and sexuality. Recent Dev Alcohol. 1995;12:267-85. ( Accessed on December 31, 2021 at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7624547/ )
Choose healthy fats. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/choose-healthy-fats.)
Drugs that may cause impotence. Bethesda, MD: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004024.htm.)
Facts on fat. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2017. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/FATS-The-Good-the-Bad-and-the-Ugly-Infographic_UCM_468968_SubHomePage.jsp.)
George WH, Davis KC, Heiman JR, Norris J, Stoner SA, Schacht RL, Hendershot CS, Kajumulo KF. Women’s sexual arousal: Effects of high alcohol dosages and self-control instructions. Horm Behav. 2011 May;59(5):730-8.
George WH, Davis KC, Norris J, Heiman JR, Schacht RL, Stoner SA, Kajumulo KF. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006 Nov;14(4):461-70.( Accessed on December 31 2021 at https://socialwork.uw.edu/biblio/womens-sexual-arousal-effects-high-alcohol-dosages-and-self-control-instructions)
Glycemic index and diabetes. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2017. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Glycemic-Index-and-Diabetes_UCM_457070_Article.jsp#.Wa_yociGMdV.)
Harte CB, Meston CM. Association between smoking cessation and sexual health in men. BJU Int. 2012 Mar;109(6):888-96. ( Accessed on December 31 2021 at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21883852/)
How high blood pressure can affect your sex life. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2017. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/LearnHowHBPHarmsYourHealth/How-High-Blood-Pressure-Can-Affect-Your-Sex-Life_UCM_301827_Article.jsp#.Wa_ypciGMdX.)
Is sex helping or hurting your sleep? Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at https://sleep.org/articles/does-sex-affect-sleep/)
Janssen E, Macapagal KR, Mustanski B. Individual differences in the effects of mood on sexuality: The revised mood and sexuality questionnaire (MSQ-R). J Sex Res. 2013 Oct;50(7):676-87. ( Accessed on December 31, 2021https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3701019/
Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. 2011;305(21):2173-4. ( Accessed on December 31, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/)
Mental health medications. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Mental Health. (Accessed on ( Accessed on December 31, 2021 https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications/index.shtml.)
National Sleep Foundation recommends new sleep times. Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/page/0/1.)
Processed foods: What’s OK and what to avoid. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/avoiding-processed-foods.)
Types of blood pressure medications. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2017. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/Types-of-Blood-Pressure-Medications_UCM_303247_Article.jsp#.Wa_ypsiGMdV.)
What causes ED? Linthicum, MD: Urology Care Foundation. (Accessed on December 31, 2021 at http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/causes.)