Low libido affects many people, regardless of gender. The loss of sex drive can manifest in little or no sexual desire. You’ve probably had those days when instead of having sex with a partner or masturbating, you would rather read a book or go straight to sleep. While it’s completely normal to experience sexual roller coasters during our lives, libido issues might also affect your relationships and the way you feel about yourself.
For a long time, I’ve believed that just by being young and healthy, I should pulsate sexual energy. In reality, I have a job, I need to pay my bills, there’s a pandemic going on, and sex is sometimes the last thing on my mind.
Why can’t I get “in the mood”?
Sexuality is a complex concept influenced by both your mental and physical well-being. You should feel secure, respected, and appreciated to get turned on by yourself or a partner. Your physical state is also important. When I’m tired, in pain, or even hungry, I can’t think about having sex. I might try to push myself, but I feel worse in the end, and my partner feels guilty for even starting something.
Aside from basic human needs, there are countless reasons why you can’t get horny. Here are some of the reasons you might experience a lower libido and ways you can unleash your sexual energy again.
Reasons behind low libido
Your medicine cabinet
You may be surprised at how many common or prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet come with unexpected side effects. Steroids, antidepressants, opioids might mess with your reproductive hormones and reduce your desire for sex. Using hormonal birth control may also be a factor. People report that low sex drive is one of the most common side effects. Hormonal contraception lowers both testosterone and estrogen, which also affects your libido.
Stress and anxiety
Stress is the leading cause of people struggling to unleash their sexual energy. When you experience a lot of stress, your brain releases the hormone cortisol. Too much of this hormone leads to a lack of sexual desire. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples said that they had more time to have sex, but they were too stressed to enjoy it.
During the lockdown, I felt pressured to have sex with my boyfriend. Social media and countless articles were talking about the joys of limitless sex during the quarantine. But that wasn’t my case. I wasn’t feeling sexual at all. Just because we were locked in the same apartment, didn’t mean we forgot about the outside world. But it’s completely normal to feel off in stressful times, especially when the world is panic mode.
Negative body image
Low self-esteem makes it challenging to relax and enjoy pleasure. Instead, you might get nervous and start judging your body and thoughts. Many sex therapists agree that the way we see ourselves and live our lives reflects on our sexuality. If you feel ashamed of your body and the way it looks or feels during sex or masturbation, it takes away your focus from arousal.
Psychological, physical, or sexual violence is a violation of your mind, body, and soul. If you’re in a toxic relationship, you lose a sense of security and respect. Your body can’t be pushed into arousal without your mind reciprocating. Each time you try to have sex, your body goes into a defense stage.
Sexual health issues
And I’m not only talking about STDs. You might experience a lack of sexual desire if you’re going through other reproductive health issues such as vaginismus, PCOS, endometriosis, or experience an erectile or prostate dysfunction. Also, if you recently had a related surgical procedure, you might want to prioritize recovery instead of forcing yourself to have sex.
Alcohol, smoking, drugs
Alcohol and other drugs work as depressants—large amounts of alcohol lower testosterone levels, affecting your sex drive. While one glass of wine might heat things up, too much of it can lead to a lack of vaginal lubrication and a decreased desire for sex. Also, alcohol and drugs make you feel more fearless, which often leads to unsafe sex and breached boundaries.
If you’re coming from a conservative background or where your family or friends talk negatively about sexuality and shame it, it might shape the way you see sex. The heritage of damaging views on sex can make you feel ashamed of yourself, your body, and sexuality. It could also be why some people struggle to reach orgasm during sex or get an erection because they associate sex with shame and not with pleasure.
Ways you can boost your libido
If medication or a medical condition is why you’re experiencing low libido, try consulting with your doctor to find what could be done to improve your sexual function. But not all causes are physical. Your psychology is equally, if not more, important in having a satisfying sex life. The way you see yourself and live your life will influence your sexuality and relationships with people.
But it all starts with small steps you can take right now.
Physical activity to get physical
I mentioned that during the lockdown, my sex drive dropped to its lowest. I was eating more junk food than usual. My physical activity included a walk from my bed to a desk. When the confinement was lifted (I live in Spain), I felt my sexuality surging back to normal. I had more time to exercise, get enough sun and fresh air, eat local food.
It’s important to keep your body active and healthy to have a satisfying sex life. You should find what feels good, and don’t push yourself to fit a certain frame, but some exercises such as jogging, walking, yoga are shown to improve stamina and sexual pleasure.
Food is essential as well. Try adding some fatty fish and seafood to your diet. Some say that seafood, such as oysters, works as an aphrodisiac. If you are vegan or vegetarian, add green leafy veggies such as spinach and kale to your diet to boost sexual hormones in your body.
Don’t look for answers in others
Often, we see our sexual pleasure as other people’s responsibility. But it’s not their duty to discover your sexuality if you haven’t done it yourself. Explore your pleasure zones, find what makes your toes curl, and connect with your body. You can’t find fulfillment in a relationship or dating if you don’t have it within you.
Find the best birth control method
Most of my reproductive years, I’ve been on the pill. Many people take the pill for years without knowing how it affects their sexuality and mental health. Recently, I switched pills, and it came with a bunch of side effects. I noticed that my sexual desire was nowhere to be found. Also, the pill caused vaginal dryness, making sex unpleasant and even painful.
You should know your options to enjoy safe sex. There are plenty of other birth control methods that don’t mess with your hormones as much. The first and foremost is condoms. Condoms prevent unwanted pregnancies and protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. If you are in a monogamous relationship, you can try copper IUD. Although this method is more invasive, it provides long-lasting protection from unwanted pregnancy.
Analyze your relationship
It’s entirely normal to experience periods of no sexual desire in a long-term relationship, but if it affects your life, there might be a problem. Usually, your sex life is the first to suffer when there’s something wrong in a relationship. Perhaps your body sometimes knows better, huh?
For you to feel the desire, a relationship has to check all the boxes. You should feel secure, respected, and your boundaries should be taken seriously.
If one of these is missing, that is a problem you shouldn’t ignore.
Find your sex zen
The two biggest mood breakers are stress and anxiety. If stress doesn’t let you enjoy your life and has a significantly negative impact on you, perhaps the wisest solution would be to see a therapist. But you can also try some of the stress relief methods such as meditation, sports, or mindful breathing, especially before sex or masturbation.
Mindfulness techniques help you relax before sex or masturbation and increases your chances of reaching an orgasm. A few deep breaths before the act calm your body and muscles, allowing you to delve into pleasure.
So, here you have it. Low sex drive isn’t a death sentence, and it can awaken with a few lifestyle changes. The thing to remember is that if you’re not in the mood, you shouldn’t force yourself to feel aroused. It does more damage than good.
If you’re in a relationship, you may also want to talk about it with your partner. Communication gives clarity and builds intimacy between you and your partner. And if you keep struggling with your sexuality, it’s better to see a sex therapist to find the right solution for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Egle (Instagram @egleraa) is a freelance writer and blogger focused on women’s health, femtech and entrepreneurship. As someone with a keen eye for detail and a dedication to creating compelling content, she thrives on turning words into stories. Egle’s work has been featured in The Startup, Interesting Engineering, and Fearless She Wrote.