There are a lot of things that can affect your libido, from stress to low lubrication. Some changes are natural, while others can be serious.
Hormonal shifts can cause hot flashes, vaginal atrophy and dryness, which can all make sex less fun. But there are ways to increase wetness and libido.
1. Get a good night’s sleep
While getting wetter doesn’t necessarily mean arousal, having adequate lubrication makes sex more comfortable and safe. A lack of lubrication may lead to friction, small skin tears and inflammation, which can cause infection.
Sleep is also important to libido, as it affects hormone secretion. Women who get seven to eight hours of sleep each night have a higher libido than those who don’t.
A woman’s libido can decline around menopause as a result of hormonal changes. These changes can lead to vaginal atrophy, dryness and pain during intercourse. Hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate some of these symptoms, but it’s important to talk to your health care provider first.
Exercise can boost libido and help with lubrication. Try a yoga class, stretching to improve pelvic muscles or breathing exercises. Aphrodisiac foods, such as garlic, black cohosh and red clover can also increase blood flow to the genitals.
2. Talk to your health care provider
If you’re a woman who has experienced reduced libido as you age, you may feel confused and depressed about it. A variety of factors could be at play, from hormonal shifts to poor diet and even certain medications.
The most common cause of decreased libido in women is menopause. This can be a difficult time for many women, and is often accompanied by hot flashes and night sweats. Other issues such as stress, weight gain and a lack of physical activity can also contribute to low libido in women.
If you’re struggling with a low libido, it’s important to talk to your health care provider. They can help you determine whether your low libido is a result of an underlying medical condition or a side effect of your medications. If so, they can suggest appropriate treatments. For example, if your libido is caused by a hormone imbalance, you might consider estrogen replacement therapy. Acupuncture and herbs that promote blood flow to the genitals such as Ginkgo biloba and tribulus can also be helpful.
Men and women who exercise regularly enjoy higher libido than those who do not, according to research. Any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up and increases blood flow helps, especially for men whose libido can drop as they age (but even those who need erectile-boosting medication can improve their libido with regular exercise).
Swimming is one of the best exercises for this as it feels gentle on your joints but boosts endurance and provides strength training. It also slashes stress levels which can reduce libido. For women, ‘Kegel’ exercises (tightening and releasing your pelvic muscles) are said to increase orgasms, sexual pleasure and arousal by increasing vaginal lubrication.
Talk to your health care provider before making any major changes to your exercise routine. They’ll be able to run some underlying tests to see what may be impacting your libido and help you figure out the best approach.
The desire to have sex can be affected by hormonal changes, stress levels and brain function. It’s normal to experience dips in libido at some point, and you can help yourself rekindle the flame by taking certain lifestyle tweaks.
For example, if you’re prone to vaginal dryness, increase your natural lubrication by lingering on foreplay with your partner and having more frequent sex sessions. Studies show that lengthier foreplay increases a woman’s arousal, relaxation, pleasure and ability to reach orgasm.
You can also eat foods with nutrients and properties that can boost your natural lubrication, including avocados (they’re rich in healthy fats and vitamin B6), dark leafy greens and herbs such as Chinese ginseng, ginkgo biloba and muira puama. And acupuncture — an ancient practice that balances and relaxes the body by placing needles at specific points — can be a great way to increase libido.
Massage, a natural libido booster, can improve mood and stimulate blood flow to the reproductive organs. It also helps relieve vaginal dryness and friction that causes discomfort during sexual intercourse. Regular exercise also helps. Cardio and strength training exercises, as well as kegels to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (which contract during orgasm), can be effective libido enhancers.
Talking openly with a partner about sexual fantasies and needs can help boost libido. Couples can try oral sex, masturbation, and vibrators to increase sexual pleasure. Some women benefit from working with a sex therapist to help overcome psychological triggers that contribute to low libido.
Keep in mind that every woman’s libido is different. If you’re happy with your sex life and don’t have symptoms of low libido, there is no reason to worry. However, if your libido has declined significantly or you are feeling other signs of low sex drive, it’s important to talk with your doctor.
6. Talk to your partner
Everyone’s libido is different. If you’re having a hard time feeling aroused, discuss it with your partner. Open communication can help you get to the bottom of your feelings and discover new ways to stimulate one another. A few key things to talk about include your sexual likes and dislikes, how often you have sex and whether or not you feel physically satisfied during intercourse. Talking to your partner may also help you identify any problems in the relationship or health issues that are contributing to a low libido. For example, depression can reduce libido and some medications can affect your libido as well.
Make sex a priority in your relationship. Schedule dates in the evening and start spending quality time together. Scheduling sex might sound unromantic, but for women, desire does not occur spontaneously; it’s a response to being relaxed and having fun.