Libido is often referred to as sex drive, and it’s complicated for women. In fact, it fluctuates throughout each menstrual cycle and day. If you constantly feel low libido, it might make you anxious or upset. However, there are healthy lifestyle changes you can make.
Many factors come into play when focused on low libido in women as well as libido in men. However, sleep is likely the most important. If you don’t get enough sleep, everything in life suffers, including your health, productivity, mood, and libido.
What you can you do about your low sexual desire? Is it fixable? You will learn all about that below. Plus, we discuss specific issues men face, as well.
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Why Is Your Libido Low?
These things can cause low libido in women and men:
- Not Enough Sleep – You’ll feel tired and won’t want to have sex. Therefore, not getting plenty of sleep can negatively impact all things in your relationship, including sex hormones.
- Sleep Disorders – Sleep apnea and insomnia can, in themselves, cause low libido, but they’ve also been associated with menopause. Women are more likely to experience a low sex drive because of sleep disorders.
- Low Testosterone – Though testosterone is considered a male hormone, it does play a role in female libido. A study looked into premenopausal women who had a decreased libido. It found that many of them had unmeasurable or low testosterone levels, which has been found in postmenopausal women, too.
- Age – Your testosterone levels get lower with age, but the main androgen precursors in women decrease, too.
- Mental Health Issues and Stress – Depression and anxiety can make you feel stressed, which affects your sex life.
- Medication – Some medications have a lower libido as a side effect. These include blood pressure meds, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants.
- Health Conditions – Things like diabetes, underactive thyroid, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can affect your sexual desire.
- Alcohol, smoking, and drugs
Before learning how to increase sexual desire, you must know what might cause low libido for women:
Menstrual Cycle Affects Sexual Desire
Libido fluctuates throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle because of changing hormones. A study found that women had a high libido and were more sexually active when they had more of the luteinizing hormone, which occurs before ovulation. Testosterone levels rise during ovulation, too, and that could increase your libido.
Another study offered similar findings. It found that estradiol (one estrogen type) had a positive effect on sexual desire, but progesterone had a negative impact. Estrogen levels are higher during the first half of the cycle (follicular phase), but progesterone is higher during the second half (luteal phase). This research found that the sex drive rose in that first half, peaked during the mid-cycle, and fell after that.
Other symptoms relating to the menstrual cycle could contribute to you having a lower sex drive than normal. These include breast tenderness, fatigue, and cramps. Therefore, low libido might not be a problem you have to fix; it’s simply a sign of where you’re at in your cycle.
A 2016 meta-analysis focused on various birth control methods, such as condoms and contraceptive implants. They all could negatively impact female libido. The paper showed that women reported difficulty reaching an orgasm and loss of arousal when utilizing condoms. However, they also had a lower sexual desire and decreased frequency when using the LNG-IUS system (Levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine).
Oral contraceptives are linked to a decreased libido, more pain during sex, reduced frequency of orgasm, and lower arousal. Also, they cause vaginal dryness and breast tenderness and might lower levels of testosterone.
Hormonal birth control causes other side effects, including weight gain, bloating, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Breastfeeding and Pregnancy
Women rarely feel the best when breastfeeding and during pregnancy. The side effects don’t help, including mental health problems, weight gain, and morning sickness. However, hormones are to blame during those times.
Pregnant women often report a lower libido, decreases in sexual activity, and less satisfaction. They also feel less attractive. That doesn’t stop once the baby arrives. Afterward, women produce prolactin to help with milk production and less estrogen. These things suppress the sex drive, too.
Then, sleep is impacted; you get less of it because you’re caring for a newborn.
Perimenopause is the time leading to menopause, and it can also change your sex life. Symptoms often include decreased sexual sensation and libido and a delay or diminished orgasm. Then, you’re also dealing with weight gain, night sweats, hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety, and depression, which contribute to a low sex drive.
Likewise, perimenopause impacts sleep, which changes your sex life. Women often report:
- Decreases in sleep quality
- Increases in sleep disturbances
- Longer sleep latency (time it takes to get to sleep)
Postmenopause and Sexual Dysfunction
The lead-up to that transition isn’t the only problem. Women often experience a low sex drive after that.
One study considered perimenopausal and postmenopausal women between 45 and 55 years old. About 64 percent had a diminished libido. Researchers found that menopausal symptoms, such as night sweats, poor sleep, and depression, were associated with this.
Likewise, many women in the study also had pain during sex and vaginal dryness. This is caused because there’s less estrogen in the body at this time. In fact, female sexual dysfunction could be up to 85 percent, though some women might not report their issues.
Does Sleep Affect Sexual Function?
Sleep can significantly impact a woman’s sex drive. It does more than make you tired. Learn more about sexual functioning and sleep quality:
Women Don’t Sleep Enough
A study in 2017 focused on women 50 to 79 who were postmenopausal. The results indicated high levels of insomnia with lower sexual satisfaction odds. Sleeping less than seven or eight hours each night meant lower odds of having sex, decreased female sexual function, and less satisfaction.
However, it wasn’t only postmenopausal ladies. A study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked into female college students to determine how sleep might affect their sex drives. Women who often slept longer at night had more genital arousal than those who slept for shorter periods.
Likewise, sleep doesn’t just affect sex with time. Sleeping for longer periods led to increasing women’s sexual desire that next day. Just one more hour of sleep increased the odds of the woman having sex by 15 percent.
Here are other ways that sleep impacts your sex life:
- Weight Gain – You could gain weight if you don’t sleep enough, which means a higher risk of obesity. Such things affect your overall body image, but they lead to sexual dissatisfaction, arousal problems, and painful sex.
- More Cortisol – High levels of cortisol are linked with low levels of sexual arousal. It can be caused by stress, being out of sync with the body’s clock, and sleep deprivation.
- Messes with Your Hormones – Sleep loss cuts your testosterone levels, but it hikes cortisol levels, which lowers estrogen. In a sense, no sleep is a hormone cocktail that ruins your libido.
- More Fights – If you don’t sleep enough, you may argue with your partner more often. It also makes couples hostile. Keep track of your sleep routine!
- Impacts Sex Life – Research indicates that sleep apnea can negatively influence the female sex drive, orgasm, arousal, and desire.
How Women Increase Libido and Sexual Health
More research is required that focuses on women’s health in general and particularly female sexual health. However, experts now recommend these things:
- Eat Aphrodisiacs (Libido-boosting Foods) – A healthy diet will help you with body image, blood flow, sleep, and more. Consider bananas, avocados, and chocolate.
- Exercise – Exercise boosts blood flow to the genitals, helps you fall asleep (if you don’t work out close to bedtime), and improves your body image and mood.
- Reduce Stress – Consider relaxing activities, such as exercise, journaling, and yoga, while meeting your sleep needs every night.
- Work on Your Relationship Problems – Improve trust and intimacy, add fun date nights, and try new things for your sex life. Plus, ensure that both parties get enough sleep to reduce conflict.
- Consider Sex Therapy – Seeing a sex therapist can help you work through any psychological problems that might affect your sex drive.
- Ride the Hormone Wave – This could be determining when it’s the best time for sex or waiting until things settle down more after a pregnancy.
- Consider New Birth Control – Some women report having more libido on different birth control brands and options. Therefore, you should talk to your doctor about the right method for you.
- Talk to a Healthcare Professional – A doctor can help you rule out underlying medical conditions and recommend treatment options, such as hormone replacement therapy, if menopause impacts your sex drive.
- Quit smoking and limit your alcohol consumption.
- Get enough sleep!
Improve Sexual Function By Meeting Sleep Needs
You’ve learned that sleep significantly impacts your sex hormones and sex drive, as well as stress and weight gain, which can also affect your mood. One way to combat that is by meeting your sleep needs each night. Morning grogginess is normal for most people, but caffeine can make it hard to know if you’re getting proper sleep.
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. The average is eight hours and 10 minutes, though there’s wiggle room. However, 13.5 percent of people require nine or more hours of sleep every night.
Lower Sleep Debt
Sleep debt measures the amount of sleep you give your body for 14 nights and how much you owe it. Therefore, if you should be sleeping eight hours and 30 minutes and only get seven hours each night, you’ve built up plenty of sleep debt. You likely feel those effects in your sex life.
However, you can catch up on the sleep you miss by taking naps or going to bed earlier. If possible, you might sleep in, as well.
What’s a Normal Sex Drive for Men?
Your sex drive or libido focuses on how much you desire sexual satisfaction or connection. There’s no standardized definition of a high/low sex drive, but generally, if it’s high, you have more frequent sexual needs and engage in sex more often. Those with a low sex drive might not think about sex much and are less likely to engage in those activities.
What’s normal is based on each person’s views and needs. Therefore, it’s more difficult to find the source of the problem unless you know what’s typical for you. Likewise, sexual interests change with time, especially during a relationship. In the initial stage, there’s more desire, but when things shift long-term, partners often experience reduced and increased drives.
Natural Ways to Boost Your Sex Life
There are many ways to boost your libido naturally. However, lifestyle changes are the most important. While foods and supplements can help, there’s no concrete evidence. However, they’re seen as low-risk, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure that you research brands and talk to your doctor before taking herbal products and mixing medications.
Rule out Physical Causes
If you’re experiencing painful sex or a loss of sex drive, it’s best to discuss these issues with a healthcare professional. They will evaluate your sexual health to determine if there are underlying problems and focus on treatment options.
Typically, erectile dysfunction is a big reason for a loss of sex drive, and low testosterone levels might play into that. Therefore, if you have erectile dysfunction, you need to determine the cause and take medications. Likewise, some medical treatments, such as heart disease and antidepressant medication, can lead to sexual dysfunction.
Decrease Stress Levels
Stress is a distraction that lowers your energy levels and makes it harder to enjoy sex. If you reduce stress, you can lower your blood pressure and address your loss of libido. It’s wise to make lifestyle changes to lower stress levels in everyday life and try things like regular exercise, massages, and breathing exercises.
Communicate with Partners
Good communication is crucial when dealing with low sex drives in a relationship. Share your experiences and get your partner’s perspective to give insight into everyone’s needs. This can bridge the gap for those with mismatched sex drives.
If you have trouble opening up about intimacy, sex therapy and couples therapy might be wise. They can help you work through those challenges.
Limit Alcohol and Cannabis Consumption
Some people prefer to use cannabis or have a glass of wine before sex. There’s nothing wrong with that, but too much alcohol and cannabis can lead to issues with sexual functioning. In fact, you could get too tired to do the deed.
Use Maca Root Supplements
Maca root is native to Peru, and the plant is related to ginseng. People believe it increases sexual desire. You can find these herbal supplements in health food stores and online. While there aren’t enough studies to be definitive, some researchers say that maca root can positively impact sexual desire within men.
Use Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is a tree in China and has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. Studies show that it could increase sexual desire, especially when the sexual dysfunction occurs from antidepressants. This is because of the supplement’s influence on smooth muscle tissue and blood flow.
Advisory: many of the above ingredients can be found in this male enhancement that is highly recommended.
Add Fenugreek to Your Diet
Fenugreek is a spice used in South Asian dishes and is rumored to help with sexual function. One randomized clinical trial in 2011 used healthy males from 25 to 52 years old and concluded that fenugreek could help to maintain normal testosterone levels. A study in 2015 found that the extract improved sexual function in older and middle-aged men.
You can find this ingredient in some of the recommended male enhancement supplements.
A study found that men who ate 100g of pistachios every day for three weeks had firmer erections and more blood flow to their penises. However, it didn’t have a control group and needs more research.
Eat More Chocolate
Chocolate is known to be an aphrodisiac, and one 2009 clinical study tracked the stress hormones of 30 people for two weeks. They consumed chocolate, which suggests that it could lower stress and anxiety levels. There’s no solid evidence that it could lead to more sexual pleasure, but it might make you happier and contribute to more enjoyable sex.
Consider Natural Aphrodisiacs
A Malaysian study from 2013 found that eating oysters increased the sexual behavior of mice compared to the controls. Researchers believe it’s because of the high zinc levels. Zinc is crucial for your sex hormones to function correctly. However, there’s no proven link, but it shouldn’t hurt.
Mix It Up in the Bedroom
Many times, men and women get bored because they’re doing the same things in bed. It’s been said that female sexuality focuses on pleasing a man, but most ladies want excitement and newness, as well. Therefore, you might consider adding sex toys to the mix! Vibrators and penetrative tools can help open both people up to new things.
A low sex drive is common and affects people of all types, whether they’re in a relationship or not. Most of the time, it happens because of hormonal changes or lack of sleep, which are easily fixable. However, if you don’t take action, you may end up with severe sexual dysfunction.
It’s wise to talk to a doctor about your concerns before trying natural remedies. There could be an underlying health issue at play. Then, reduce your stress, limit alcohol consumption, and try new things in the bedroom to liven things up!