What does it mean when you’re in the mood for sex, but your body isn’t responding? This struggle between the brain and bod often means that you have a low libido, and good news-- it’s reversible!
The not so good news? Your own unhealthy habits might be causing it to dip… but there are plenty of ways to bring it right back up. If you’re up for sex, yet nothing is happening below the waist, here’s how you can create new habits to boost your libido (and your overall health and happiness, too)!
First things first: What’s the difference between desire and libido?
Libido and desire are not the same thing. Your sex drive gets you revved up for sex mentally and emotionally, but if your libido is low you might as well enjoy Netflix and no chill. While your sex drive is the desire for action, your libido is the body’s ability to respond to this—you many want it, but you might not be able to get hard or wet. Libido is simply a physical function or dysfunction, depending on your daily habits and overall well being.
Is it normal to have a low libido?
It’s unrealistic to expect the libido to always be high, as it’s sensitive to an array of psychological and biological factors. Your libido will ebb and flow throughout life (along with your sex drive), depending on what else is going on for you at any particular point in time.
Anything from a poor diet to premenstrual hormones to performance anxiety can temporarily hinder your ability to become aroused. But if you’re finding it harder and harder to get hard (or wet), maybe it’s time to check in with yourself, your lifestyle, and your habits. Rest assured, the problem rarely starts in your pants, so take a look at the following…
Everyday habits that kill libido
You’re overcommitting. Perhaps you’re buying into the societal pressure to always “be busy” (been there). You may be coping with an intense work and workout schedule, giving your weekends over to family or besties or both—and this leads you to stress, ultimately inhibiting your body’s ability to produce testosterone, the key sex hormone needed to get and stay aroused.
You’re working out way too much. Hitting the gym benefits your libido in all kinds of ways (see below) but only if you don’t overdo it. After an extreme workout, your body will enter into recovery mode, directing all nutritional and energetic resources towards repairing your muscles, rather than your genitals. Too much high intensity training will also increase levels of cortisol, the stress responder that lowers testosterone and (in the long term) causes fatigue.
You’re not sleeping enough. When you mess with your sleep, you mess with your hormones (and vice versa). Your hormones are responsible for so many daily changes that take place within the body—from regulating sleep to regulating appetite (for food and sex). These lifestyle choices work together like a symphony, so if one’s out of tune, the entire song (i.e. your body) will sound off key.
You’ve had one too many nightcaps. Alcohol is one of the biggest disruptors of sleep and sex. While a few cocktails can put you in the mood, one too many can kill it (and your erection). Over time, excessive alcohol abuse wreaks all kinds of havoc with your hormone health since it messes with insulin levels.
You’re still smoking. Cigarette use will decrease the amount of oxygen you can take into your body, which decreases your circulation. Nicotine also causes the blood vessels to contract, further restricting blood flow to the genitals.
How can I boost my libido?
Chill out. Clear space in your diary to dial your stress levels down. Do something regenerative like yoga, take a long nap, or simply do nothing at all! Reach out to your partner, family or friends for help if life is getting too much to handle alone. Alternatively, try some talking therapy to ease any anxiety.
Exercise more. Yes, it seems counterintuitive, considering the advice above, but it’s about striking the right balance. Exercise improves heart health and circulation, meaning you’re more likely to get and stay aroused. Strength training can also boost testosterone, just don’t go all-out every day. Try different gym classes, mix up your routine and take more recovery days. You’ll benefit from endorphins rather than cortisol and still feel confident about your body.
Cuddle and sleep more by making an effort to get to bed earlier. Leave devices outside of the bedroom or give yourself at least an hour of screen-free time before lights out. Spend time cuddling, kissing and stroking your partner, looking into each other’s eyes as you talk, and lulling each other into a restful sleep. Not only will your libido reap the benefits, your relationship will too—especially if emotional issues are blocking your ability to become aroused.
Eat more seafood. Asparagus, bananas, salmon, and other Zinc-rich foods boost testosterone production. Asparagus contains the vitamin E needed to stimulate production of other sex hormones. Bananas contain muscle-strengthening potassium that could intensify orgasms. Salmon is high in omega 3 that boosts blood flow and increases genital sensitivity. If your diet covers all nutritional bases, know that you’re feeding your libido.
Clean up your act to get down and dirty again. If you cut back on alcohol and quit the cigarettes (or switch to a nicotine alternative) this could work miracles for your body as your circulation improves, along with your sleep cycles and energy levels. While the prospect of cultivating a cleaner lifestyle might not seem so fun right now, the reward is a healthier body, a happier libido, and possibly a dirtier sex life. It’s a fair trade-off!